The intensity of demonstrations and reprisals in Burma shows no sign of lessening and it is hard to know what we can do from so far away. Although the Internet has provided a fantastic way of getting images out of Burma, this new connectedness has produced a very globalized form of impotence, based on a feeling of powerlessness at a distance. It is possible though, to use our power as consumers to influence the situation, even if it is a messy, incomplete power.
- The UK trades with Burma to the tune of £26m per year. We are the second biggest European trading partners for the country, after France.
- The EU is responsible for 75% of all foreign direct investment in Burma.
- 1/3 of all multinational corporations doing business in Burma have their headquarters in the EU.
Bearing this in mind it would seem that consumer power, wielded by European citizens, could be as effective as any trade sanctions currently being proposed for sending a message to the Burmese government that we oppose their politics and their handling of the current situationa and could take effect more quickly.
Have a look at the Burma Campaign’s website and especially at their ‘dirty list’, a list of companies doing business in Burma. Boycotting these companies would ensure that a strong message is sent to the government of Burma by the companies who trade there, but remember to email or write to the companies concerned to let them know what you are doing and why – their contact details are on the dirty list.