Sample Letter to Canadian Importers
We are writing to express our deep concern regarding your business
dealings in Burma. As you may be aware, the importation of clothing
from Burma into Canada has serious ethical implications and is opposed
by the Canadian government. We hope that you will join a growing list
of companies that are publicly declaring their commitment not to do
business with the military dictatorship of Burma and all of its
affiliated companies and organizations.
Burma’s military dictatorship is an illegal regime which cancelled
the results of the country’s 1990 elections, thereby retaining its hold
on power. Even though Nobel Peace Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi and her
party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), won 82% of
parliamentary seats, she is still under house arrest and her party is
still prevented from taking office. Moreover, NLD members and other
opponents of the military regime face ongoing repression from the
authorities. Human rights abuses such as arbitrary arrest and
imprisonment, torture, rape, and forced labour, are commonplace in
Burma. Currently, there are 1,500 political prisoners languishing in
the country’s jails.
Burma’s military regime owns apparel factories, wholly or partially,
which provide profits to the regime and its arms procurement body,
“the Directorate of Procurement of the Ministry of Defence.” In
addition, like many industries in the country, the garment industry
is intimately tied to the heroin trade, which the Burmese junta
promotes, protects and profits from. This was well exemplified in
June 2000 when it was discovered that one of Wal-Mart Canada’s supply
factories in Burma was owned by the notorious Burmese drug lord,
Lo Hsing han.
A 1998 Commission of Inquiry by the United Nations’ International
Labour Organization (ILO) issued a report revealing the pervasive
nature of forced labour in Burma, which is often accompanied by other
severe abuses. Since then, the ILO has effectively expelled Burma
and has issued an unprecedented resolution calling for all ILO members
to review their relations with Burma to ensure that they are not
contributing to the widespread system of forced labour in the country.
By committing not to do business with Burma, you would not only
avoid supporting a brutal military regime, you may also avoid
tarnishing your company’s reputation by becoming a target of consumer
pressure in the future. Over the past year, more than 23 companies in
North America have ceased importing from Burma due to citizens’
advocacy campaigns in Canada and the United States.
We would request that your company confirm in writing that it is not
currently sourcing from Burma (or Myanmar, as it appears on apparel
labels), and clarify that you will not do any future sourcing from
Burma or sell products made in Burma until the democratically elected
leaders of that country determine that respect for labour and human
rights has improved sufficiently to allow companies to reestablish
business relations with Burma.
We look forward to your prompt response on this important issue.