Right activists claim allowing US firms do business in Burma 'will fuel abuses'
Rangoon, July 13 (ANI): The Obama administration's decision to ease financial sanctions and allow American firms to do business in Burma, will fuel abuses in the country instead of rewarding it for steps toward introducing reforms, human rights activists have warned.
The State Department, however, said that letting U.S. companies do business in Myanmar "will set a model for responsible investment and business operations as well as encourage further change, promote economic development and contribute to the welfare of the Burmese people.
According to The Los Angeles Times, human rights groups are appalled by the move.
They claimed the Obama administration had failed to introduce appropriate safeguards to prevent U.S. investment from bankrolling abuses such as forcing villagers off their land to make way for pipelines or mines.
"We're extremely disappointed. Whatever the U.S. corporations wanted, that's what they went with,"Jennifer Quigley, advocacy director for the U.S. Campaign for Burma, said.
Rights activists were especially alarmed that U.S. companies will be allowed to partner with the Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise, a state-owned company closely linked to the military government.
According to the paper, Quigley pointed out that although companies are supposed to reveal any human rights and environmental risks tied to acquiring land for investment, there are no punishments for such abuses or for failing to report them at all.
Though the reports could lay the groundwork for shaming companies into changing their ways that rarely works with products that American consumers don't buy directly she added.
According to the paper, guman rights activists are now turning their focus to Congress, which decides annually on whether to ban products from being imported from Myanmar.
Their hope is that although American companies may now be allowed to do business in Myanmar, their products will still be kept out of the U.S. (ANI)
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