The world is shocked and appalled by the genocide carried out by the Myanmar military, which has driven more than 650,000 Rohingya villagers to flee their homes and seek sanctuary in Bangladesh. Many of the women, including mothers and grandmothers, as well as little girls, were raped and tortured by the military. Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) doctors have treated 113 women and girls who sustained significant injuries during the violent sexual attacks; a third of those raped were under 18 and the youngest was just 9 years old. The women and girls treated by MSF are just a fraction of the thousands raped and traumatised by the Myanmar armed forces.
Despite this overwhelming evidence, the Myanmar government is continuing to endorse their army’s denials and to act as apologists for systemic rape and torture. As the elected government of Myanmar, the National League for Democracy must also take responsibility for their military’s crimes.
Corporations who continue to invest in Myanmar effectively are condoning rape as a weapon of genocide. Until our Rohingya sisters are able to return home and rebuild their lives IN SAFETY there must not be “business as usual”. UNILEVER is one of the biggest foreign investors in Myanmar and therefore has the power to impact directly on the actions of the government. UNILEVER claims to respect women’s lives and to be “…ensuring equal rights wherever we operate”. One of its products is DOVE, its logo the bird of peace. UNILEVER must withdraw from Myanmar.
Sisters of Rohingya in Burma, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, Australia, Canada, Ireland, Netherlands, UK, USA….so far. firstname.lastname@example.org
Campaign hashtags #nopeacenodove #boycottdove
OPEN LETTER TO MR PAUL POLMAN:
THE CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER OF UNILEVER
100 Victoria Embankment
London EC4Y 0DY.
Tel. +44 (0)207 822 5252
IN RESPONSE TO THE MILITARY RAPE OF ROHINGYA WOMEN AND GIRLS, AND GENOCIDE OF THE ROHINGYA PEOPLE OF MYANMAR UNILEVER MUST IMMEDIATELY WITHDRAW ITS INVESTMENT IN MYANMAR
Dear Mr Polman
I support the campaign for UNILEVER to end its investment in Myanmar: “MYANMAR: NO PEACE? NO DOVE!”
Women, girls mothers and grandmothers have been telling the world of the brutal rapes and torture they endured by the Myanmar armed forces, most recently in a report by Human Rights Watch “All My Body Was Pain”. Hundreds of thousands of women and girls have been forced to flee and still many remain trapped in dangerous situations in Myanmar. In December 2017, the UN Human Rights Chief Mr Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein told the Human Rights Council of the “concordant reports of acts of appalling barbarity committed against the Rohingya”. The reports included allegations of security forces “deliberately burning people to death inside their homes; murders of children and adults; indiscriminate shooting of fleeing civilians; the burning and destruction of houses, schools, markets and mosques and the widespread rapes of women and girls.” The National League for Democracy as the elected government of Myanmar has a responsibility to control their military and be accountable for their failures.
\UNILEVER claims to embody principles that respect the dignity and rights of women and girls, especially in your marketing of Dove products. UNILEVER has been so successful in this that the company you represent as CEO, holds the title of “Impact Champion” appointed by UN Women as part of their campaign to advance women’s rights. As an Impact Champion you proclaim that “Unilever aims to improve safety for women and girls in the communities where they operate.”
We were encouraged to see that you personally were a signatory on the Open letter to the President of the Security Council and Member Countries of the Council to end the human crisis of Rohingyas in Myanmar, and that eventually the Company endorsed this position via a tweet stating that UNILEVER “stands firm with Nobel Peace laureates calling for action from UN Sec Council to protect the Rohingya”.
But despite this stated support for Rohingya women and girls, UNILEVER continues to follow its 10 year investment plan in Myanmar of USD $667 million. This investment provides a veneer of credibility and is an important income stream to the Myanmar government and its military. By providing funds and credibility to the Myanmar government, UNILEVER is complicit with their atrocities, effectively condoning the perpetrators of rape and genocide.
Precisely because of its investment, UNILEVER has the responsibility to take tangible action to protect the Rohingya people. It can use its significant economic leverage to live up to its claims of “…ensuring equal rights wherever we operate” . It is totally unacceptable that Unilever prides itself on respecting women’s safety, yet currently is allowing the profits created in Myanmar to condone and contribute to the rape of our sisters as part of the genocide of the Rohingya people. The management, shareholders and consumers of UNILEVER must urgently end their complicity with such crimes against humanity.
A failure to act will severely damage the reputation of UNILEVER. Decades of work and billions of dollars invested in creating the image of UNILEVER will have been wasted if UNILEVER products, especially DOVE, become associated with rape, murder, ethnic cleansing and genocide.
UNILEVER has the opportunity to be a world leader in defending the lives of girls and women by divesting from rape and killing. It’s time to show that “standing up for human rights” is more than just an advertising slogan.
We look forward to UNILEVER divesting in order to end military rape and genocide in Myanmar. No Peace? No Dove!