30 April 2021 — London/Yangon — The Burma Human Rights Network strongly condemns efforts by Chevron to lobby the US against sanctions on Burma’s oil and gas businesses. According to the New York Times, the company has lobbied congressmen and the US State department against sanctioning military-tied companies in the oil and gas sector because it would disrupt Chevron’s operations in the country. The move comes as global calls to sanction the military regime’s business interest grow. Since the 1st February coup, nearly a thousand protesters have been killed by security forces and thousands more have been arrested and tortured.
Chevron’s interest in Burma is primarily offshore gas. Natural gas accounts for the largest source of state foreign revenue earnings in the country, bringing in one billion dollars annually. Sanctions on the military’s interests, particularly on energy, are one of the only ways the international community can limit the military’s access to foreign cash and limit their ability to purchase the military equipment and fuel they rely on to terrorize the civilian population. By continuing its work in Burma, Chevron is offering a lifeline to the military to continue the transport of troops to kill and detain protesters, the launching of artillery in civilian areas, and the use of fighter jets to bomb civilian areas in Kachin and Karen state.
“It is utterly disgraceful that Chevron would use their power to protect their own bottom line while civilians are being murdered in the street by the security forces they are directly funding. Fortunately, these efforts have come to light and the public knows that they have blood on their hands. The United States should completely disregard these lobbying efforts and sanction all of the Burmese Military’s business interests, especially in the oil and gas sector. Chevron should immediately reconsider its behavior and reevaluate its prioritization of profit over human life and democracy,” said BHRN’s Executive Director, Kyaw Win.
The tensions between the illegitimate military regime and the citizens of Burma have come to an impasse which will most likely continue until the military relinquishes power. Because of this, the country seems increasingly likely to enter a full civil war, beyond the conflicts already occurring in the ethnic regions. To prevent this from occurring the international community must do everything within their power to pressure the military to step down from power and restore the legitimate government. Any business that aids the military in maintaining power is directly responsible for the death of civilians that will occur as a result.
BHRN calls on Chevron to immediately cease all lobbying efforts to protect their interests in Burma at the expense of the Burmese people. The United States must reject these efforts and move forward immediately with further sanctions on Burma’s business interests, especially on oil and gas. All businesses invested in Burma must reevaluate their ethical positions in the country and build alliances with the civilian movements of Burma to establish equitable relationships with the country once the military is forced to step down. With significantly limited access to cash amid ongoing conflict, the Burmese military is spreading itself thin. The international community has an opportunity to ramp up the pressure now and prevent conflict from dramatically escalating in the coming months by showing the military that their coup is unsustainable.
BHRN is based in London and operates across Burma/Myanmar working for human rights, minority rights and religious freedom in the country. BHRN has played a crucial role in advocating for human rights and religious freedom with politicians and world leaders.
Burma Human Rights Network (BHRN)
T: +44(0) 740 345 2378