Groups Speak Out Against Human Rights Violations in Myanmar

Industry groups and nonprofits focused on the garment and textile sectors are speaking out against the country’s treatment and displacement of Rohingya Muslims. The statement comes after the United Nations adopted a resolution implying that crimes against humanity were taking place in the country.

The persecution facing an ethnic minority based in Myanmar has raised a number of concerns with the country’s garment and textile industries.

And the U.S. and European groups that represent those industries are speaking up in an effort to prevent the situation from getting worse.

Last week, 16 organizations sent a joint statement to the president of Myanmar, Htin Kyaw, speaking out against the violence, attacks, and displacement against the country’s population of Rohingya Muslims, who are not considered citizens by Myanmar’s government. The statement comes days after the United Nations Human Rights Council passed a resolution that suggests that the attacks on the ethnic population likely include crimes against humanity like ethnic cleansing.

The groups signing the statement—among them the Ethical Trading Initiative, Fair Labor Association, American Apparel & Footwear Association, and the Foreign Trade Association—pointed out that the situation created threats to both the country’s population and its business climate.

“Since the escalation in violence earlier this year, more than 600,000 Rohingya refugees have fled across the border to Bangladesh,” the organizations emphasized in a news release. “Families have been torn apart and individuals have lost their lives.”

The groups, while stating their support for Myanmar from an economic standpoint, called on the country’s leadership “to take all necessary steps, with the support of international agencies, to bring the crisis to an end and ensure refugees can safely and voluntarily return to their homes and lives.”

The statements likely will carry significant weight with the country’s government, due to the size of the its textile and garment industry. According to the industry publication Just-Style, Myanmar’s garment exports are expected to top $3 billion in value this year, representing the country’s third-largest export.

A view of the sprawling Kutupalong refugee camp near Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh. (UK Department for International Development/Flickr)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

Got an article tip for us? Contact us and let us know!