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After the Norwegian state-owned telecommunications company Telenor sold its operations in a conflict-torn Southeast Asian country to a Lebanese investment company, the Myanmar human rights organization filed a complaint against Telenor to the OECD.
These groups claimed that Telenor had “irresponsibly separated from its Myanmar operations” and failed to act in accordance with the OECD and UN principles on business and human rights. Sale of local business to M1 GroupIt was founded this month by the new Prime Minister of Lebanon with US$105 million.The deal was made in the context of widespread chaos in the country Military coup In February.
“Telenor has failed to conduct appropriate risk-based due diligence, nor has it managed to prevent or mitigate the adverse human rights impacts that may result from the sale of its Myanmar operations to its customers,” these organizations said in their complaints to the Norwegian National Contact Point. According to the OECD guidelines for multinational enterprises. “Telenor [also] Failed to contact relevant stakeholders regarding the sale of Telenor Myanmar to M1 Group. “
The 474 civil society organizations that supported the complaint have remained anonymous because of what they called the “extreme violation of rights” by the Gen Min Aung Hlaing military government Since it collapsed The government of Aung San Suu Kyi. The Amsterdam-based non-profit organization Research Center for Multinational Corporations presented the report on their behalf.
Among the telecommunications companies operating in Myanmar, Telenor is generally considered to be the most Committed to transparency Human rights before and after the coup.Norwegian Telecom Announced military government requirements Discontinue service or block access to content before being ordered to stop by the regime.
As violence against protesters upgrade Telenor employees were threatened, and the Norwegian Group felt that its position was no longer tenable. When announcing the sale this month, CEO Sigve Brekke acknowledged that the situation in the country is “increasingly challenging for Telenor due to personnel safety, regulatory and compliance reasons”.
Norwegian Telecom Logout The total value of its May investment was US$782 million.
Human rights groups, journalists and others expressed concern that the new owners of the company might be less vigilant in resisting censorship and protecting customer data.
“The decision of Telenor to withdraw is very disappointing to those in Myanmar who care about digital rights and responsible business practices,” said Vicky Bowman, director of the Myanmar Center for Responsible Business. “Before making a decision, it did not contact Myanmar users to understand their views.”
According to the Political Prisoners Aid Association, a leading human rights organization, in Myanmar, the military government has arrested nearly 7,000 people and killed more than 900 people since the coup.
According to the human rights organization that filed a complaint with the OECD, M1 is a huge conglomerate founded by billionaire Najib Mikati and his brother Taha. Records of business in the country in which it operates”. M1 operates mobile networks in Yemen, Syria, Liberia and Sudan.
Mikati served as Prime Minister of Lebanon in 2005 and 2011-14.After members of parliament voted to appoint him on Monday, he will again assume the highest office in Lebanon Prime Minister-elect.
Joe Issa-el-Khoury, M1’s consultant, stated that the Lebanese company’s concerns were “racist and discriminatory” and it never “endangered[d] Its ethics on human rights issues.” When asked how M1 will handle any request from the Myanmar military government, Issa-el-Khoury said: “Let us not feel pain due to expectations. Let us wait and see and see the authorities. What requirements may be made. “
He added that after Telenor withdraws, “the people of Myanmar will have two choices”. “Either there is a group of people from the Middle East ready to take risks… or the government will take over.”