Open Letters

Questions on use of Telenor tower in Myanmar

Communication sent to Telenor on 4th December 2018

Dear Mr Brekke,

I’m writing on behalf of the #WeAreAllRohingyaNow campaign to express our grave concerns about the alleged use by snipers of a Telenor mobile phone tower in Rakhine state to shoot fleeing Rohingya, as stated in the recently published report ‘The Killing Fields of Alethankyaw‘.

We first contacted Telenor in April 2017 to express our concerns about the persecution of the Rohingya. As a major investor in Myanmar, we wanted to draw your attention to the UN flash report by the OHCHR documenting many horrific crimes carried out by the Myanmar military against the Rohingya in northern Rakhine State where Telenor was operating. We called on Telenor to put out a statement of concern, calling for the protection of the Rohingya and the return of their citizenship. This request was ignored.

Now we are alarmed to read these allegations, which also include the use of Telenor’s underground control room at the base of the tower as a dumping ground for the bodies.

We have read Telenor’s recent statement regarding the matter and would be grateful if you could bring clarity to the following questions:

  • Who are Telenor’s business partners that built, own and operate the tower?
  • What information was used by Telenor Myanmar in determining that the area of the tower was unsafe to enter between August 2016-April 2017 and again from August to December 2017? Was there any prewarning of attacks or military operations given to Telenor Myanmar regarding that area?
  • What security was in place at the tower in question? Was CCTV installed?
  • Were there any reports of disturbances or break-ins at the tower; and if so were these investigated by Telenor?
  • What did Telenor’s human rights assessment of doing business in Myanmar conclude regarding the issue of the Rohingya?
  • What steps were Telenor taking to ensure the provision of a mobile phone network across Rakhine would not contribute to the persecution of the Rohingya?
  • What policies and procedures does Telenor have in place to ensure that neither its business partners or staff collude with the military in acts of genocide?
  • Is Telenor deliberately avoiding using the word Rohingya in its statements of concern?

We call on Telenor and the Norwegian government, as majority shareholder, to conduct a thorough and transparent independent investigation into what happened, including a detailed forensic examination of all Telenor facilities, and to call for the same in the areas surrounding Telenor facilities including the investigation of water wells where bodies are also alleged to have been dumped. In addition, we call on you to halt all operations in Myanmar until such an investigation has been completed and you can be certain that neither your staff nor your business partners are colluding with the Myanmar military in acts of genocide.

We look forward to your response on this serious matter.

Yours sincerely,

Jamila Hanan
Campaign Director

Update 23 June 2019: no reply was received from Telenor regarding this communication.