Myanmar military junta threatens business owner as consumer boycott their products

Myanmar military junta threatens business owner as consumer boycott their products

Kirin tax filings leaked to whistleblower site Distributed Denial of Secrets revealed the brewery’s sales fell by 30 per cent in 2021 “due to a decrease in production volume caused by material shortages and other factors, as well as restrictions on sales activities”.

Activists have also called on the public to abandon other junta-associated products, such as cigarettes, and encouraged people not to pay their electricity bills, angering the regime.

Thein does not believe the so-called State Administration Council’s latest move to recover lost revenue from beer sales by force will be successful.

“At gunpoint they can force the retailers to carry [the beer], but people will be even more determined not to buy it,” she said.

The military has ruled the country formerly called Burma for most of the 75 years since independence from Britain. Its tentacles extend throughout the economy, either formally – via umbrella groups which control more than 100 companies – or informally through cronies with ties to the junta.

Its presence in construction, tourism and hotels and its stranglehold on lucrative exports such as oil, gas and jade pour billions into its coffers, help finance the violent crackdown against opponents that has killed more than 4000 people, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, a non-profit monitoring group.

Yadanar Maung, the spokesperson for activist organisation Justice For Myanmar, said the mass boycott was unprecedented and wounded the armed forces, but called for more to be done to limit the flow of money into the country, including for a toughening of sanctions by the Australian government. International sanctions led by the US, have imposed restrictions on state-owned banks to curb access to foreign currency and arms.

“Australia should urgently catch up with the sanctions already imposed by its allies, including on junta controlled state-owned enterprises, and show some leadership in its own region to support the Myanmar people’s struggle for democracy,” Maung said.

Despite international pressure, the governing generals retain close relations with Russia and China, its primary arms suppliers, and a May report by United Nations Special Rapporteur on Myanmar Tom Andrews said dozens of entities based in Singapore had been involved in supplying $US254 million ($378 million) of military-related equipment to the junta.

Andrews also reported that Singapore banks had been used extensively by arms dealers in transactions with the regime.

The Singaporean foreign affairs minister told parliament in July the government in the city-state was investigating the claims, saying it takes them “very seriously”. This month Singapore’s United Overseas Bank (UOB) announced it was cutting ties with financial institutions in Myanmar.

Chris Sidoti, a former UN investigator on the treatment of the Rohingya and a member of the Special Advisory Council for Myanmar advisory group, said the US-imposed banking isolation of the junta was biting hard and described UOB’s move as significant.

“I’ve received, just in the last day or two, unconfirmable reports that the military … individual generals … have been moving their money out of Singapore because they’re worried about the Singapore government at some point freezing those accounts,” he said.

Attempts to contact a Myanmar regime spokesperson were unsuccessful.

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