Western Union 'cuts ties' with Myanmar military's bank

Western Union 'cuts ties' with Myanmar military's bank

YANGON-Anadolu Agency
Western Union cuts ties with Myanmar militarys bank

A leading global money transfer service Western Union has stopped using a military-owned bank as one of its agents in Myanmar, rights groups said.

Western Union is one among the most recognizable names on the Dirty List of the international companies for doing business with military in Myanmar.

The list was published by two rights campaign groups -- Burma Campaign UK and International Campaign for the Rohingya -- in December 2018.

In an e-mail to Burma Campaign UK on Wednesday, Western Union said it has ended contract with Myawaddy Bank, a subsidiary of military business conglomerate Union of Myanmar Economic Holdings Ltd (UMEHL), with immediate effect, said a joint statement by the advocacy groups.

Western Union could not be reached for a comment, but an official at Myawaddy Bank confirmed the development to Anadolu Agency.

"Western Union services are no longer available from our bank. It is Western Union's decision to end the contract," the official told Anadolu Agency on condition of anonymity due to restrictions on speaking to the media.

The campaign groups said that Western Union has now been removed from the Dirty List.

Mark Farmaner, director of Burma Campaign UK, said that Western Union is the biggest company so far to end a business relationship with a military-owned company.

“This move will put more pressure on other companies to also stop doing business with the military,” he told Anadolu Agency via email.

“Companies doing business with the military are helping to pay for genocide of the Rohingya and other human rights violations,” he added.

Persecuted people

The Rohingya, described by the UN as the world's most persecuted people, have faced heightened fears of attack since dozens were killed in communal violence in 2012.

According to Amnesty International, more than 750,000 Rohingya refugees, mostly women and children, have fled Myanmar and crossed into Bangladesh after Myanmar forces launched a crackdown on the minority Muslim community in August 2017, pushing the number of persecuted people in Bangladesh above 1.2 million.

Since Aug. 25, 2017, nearly 24,000 Rohingya Muslims have been killed by Myanmar's state forces, according to a report by the Ontario International Development Agency (OIDA).

More than 34,000 Rohingya were also thrown into fires, while over 114,000 others were beaten, said the OIDA report, titled "Forced Migration of Rohingya: The Untold Experience".

Some 18,000 Rohingya women and girls were raped by Myanmar's army and police and over 115,000 Rohingya homes were burned down and 113,000 others
vandalized, it added.