Does Nestlé care? Consumers want to know

Nestle says, “The impact that we have locally has the potential to be felt internationally; the ideas that you bring to life today could shape our future”.  I couldn’t agree more.  The impact Nestle has internationally can also, of course, be felt locally.

Nearly half the entire Rohingya population in Rakhine state has been either murdered or expelled in what is the 21st Century’s most glaring case of ethnic cleansing; it is increasingly difficult to not characterize what is happening in Myanmar as a full-blown genocide.  Nestle is one of the biggest companies in the world, even without its significant investment in Myanmar, they possess the kind of global influence that could potentially persuade the regime in Yangon to not only halt its pogroms in Rakhine, but indeed, to reverse its policy of repression against the Rohingya.

It is absolutely essential for the most powerful players in the international business community to back up the United Nations’ and the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State’s recommendations for resolving the crisis in Myanmar if they are ever going to bear fruit.  We cannot talk about powerful players without talking about Nestle, the largest foods company on Earth.  Any word from Nestle weighs heavily on the scales of policy-making, not only in Myanmar, but around the world.  Their silence is just as significant.

When major companies like Nestle do not take a stand against genocide, it is interpreted by the regime as permission; and it will be interpreted by consumers as either indifference at best, or actual complicity and collusion at worst.

Nestle has been admirably responsive to public grievances in many instances, such as the recent campaign by Greenpeace over the company’s use of palm oil from Sinar Mas.  They took many steps to address the concerns; steps that no doubt came at a considerable expense for Nestle.

Condemning genocide costs nothing.

What Nestle stands to lose by speaking out is negligible compared to what they stand to lose by their silence; and indeed, to what they stand to gain by taking a stand.  The people in the Southeast Asian region care tremendously about the Rohingya issue; tempers are running high as the pogroms continue while the international community seems to remain largely ineffectual.  A “Day of Anger” has been announced for November 5th, with protests planned in Malaysia and around the world.  But directionless outrage and frustration can lead to very negative and even destructive consequences.  It is time for the global business leaders like Nestle to take the lead in reining in the Myanmar regime by letting them know that multinational corporations and foreign investors do not approve, and will not tolerate the crimes against humanity being perpetrated against the Rohingya.

It is time for Nestle and other leading companies to align themselves with the call for peace and justice in Rakhine.  It is time for Nestle to declare that “We Are All Rohingya Now”.

Teach a man to fish, then kill him

Something to consider…

Oil and gas companies are increasingly interested in exploration off the coast of Rakhine state. Companies like Woodside Energy, Shell, Total, and Chevron are already operating several fields offshore, and are confident that more discoveries are likely following the biggest natural gas discovery of 2016 off the coast of Rakhine.

These operations, and the expansion of these operations will profoundly impact the fishing industry in Rakhine, which disproportionately employs Rohingya. As found in a study on small scale fishing in Myanmar:

“…Rohingya made up a disproportionate numbers of fishermen since Rakhine Buddhists have historically shunned fishing businesses…”

Typically, major oil and gas companies, though not legally obliged to do so, initiate development projects in affected communities to offset the harm caused to their livelihoods.  All of the aforementioned companies have extensive community engagement programs designed to ensure as much as possible that their operations do not negatively impact the livelihoods of affected communities.

At present, as we know, the Rohingya are being ethnically cleansed from Rakhine state; which is to say, the affected community is being erased. This means that any development projects initiated by oil and gas companies will instead exclusively benefit the Rakhine; although they are not, by and large, engaged in the fishing sector.

This can be seen both as a manifestation of the government’s ethnic hatred for the Rohingya (wanting to ensure that their fellow Buddhists alone reap the benefits of development), and as a management tool for placating the Rakhine with material opportunities to abate their hostility over the exploitation of their state’s resources.

http://www.osjonline.com/news/view,comment-deepwater-myanmar-could-create-longterm-growth_49282.htm

The role of history in the Rohingya genocide

What this article provide you with:

A very good historical background on the ethnic and religious enmities in Myanmar

What this article does not do:

Refute the argument that economic interests are driving the ethnic cleansing in Rakhine state.

There is nothing reductionist about explaining the conflict in terms of economics. If you think it IS reductionist, then you do not understand the argument. Perhaps it is a mater of confusing the modalities of the conflict with the objectives.

The fact that this long history of ethnic and religious tension and suspicion exists is precisely why the strategy of redirecting the hostility of the Rakhine away from the central government and towards the Rohingya was chosen, and why it is working.

Is it necessary to ethnically cleanse Rakhine state of Rohingya in order to pursue economic interests? That is not the right question. A more apt question would be; is it useful to distract and divert the Rakhine with their long despised nemesis while the army seizes land and resources over which just last year the Rakhine people en masse demanded to have local control?

Is it “Marxist” to recognise that the government needs to establish absolute control over Rakhine’s resources as an existential imperative? When 60% of FDI is in the oil and gas sector, which is entirely located in Rakhine, is it reductionist to suggest that the primary objective of the regime is secure control of the land, the access, and the complete domination over that sector? Can Yangon afford an uprising by the Rakhine? This is not Marxist or reductionist thinking, it is real politik. This is a practical necessity for the central government, and pursuing such domination outright would very likely lead to an unmanageable conflict with the ethnic majority of the state; something that would be extremely costly in more ways than we can mention. Without the Rohingya conflict, the government would have no pretext; and selecting the most viable pretext in this case was quite straightforward, again, because of the history elaborated in this article.

Is it possible that hateful ideology has, or may, run amok , and the government could lose sight of its prime economic objective, and become fixated on a mission to do nothing else but exterminate the Rohingya? Of course. People certainly can go mad with ideology to the point of self-destructiveness; the Nazis certainly did. And, yes, the massacres are being carried out within the framework of hate; the Rohingya were selected as a diversion because, yes, the government views them as sub-human and eligible for genocide; and they likely derive satisfaction from killing and expelling them. But none of that contradicts with the fact that the primary motive in the conflict is vital economic interest.

http://www.newmandala.org/better-political-economy-rohingya-crisis/