November 8, 2008

Stop underwriting the Burmese military junta

I've just heard—thanks to my Swedish friend Eva—about a campaign to pressure Lloyd’s of London to stop insuring the military dictators of Burma. I thought that it was more than well worth a post, so here we go again with the issue of Burma.

First of all, let’s summarize the situation. Burma's military junta has been hanging on to power for years using repressive tactics, such as jailing monks and opposition leaders such as Aung San Suu Kyi. Recently the military junta has also been denying their citizens relief after last year’s devastating cyclone. Up till now Burma’s military dictators remain entrenched, propped up by dealings with Western companies. Well, one way the Burmese democracy movement has found to push for change is to cut off the businesses that prop them up by shaming those companies themselves—exposing them one by one, and forcing big companies to pull out—especially the insurers who underwrite the generals’ economic stranglehold.

Lloyd’s of London, the worlds foremost insurance market, is precisely one of the generals’ lifelines—Lloyd’s chairman Lord Levene also sits on the board of the junta-linked Total, which pays Rangoon $2m a day for oil. That is why the campaigners—Burma Campaign-UK and the Avaaz group—are urging to join them now by mass emailing the huge company, while the media furore is growing, to push Lloyd’s to terminate its Burmese contracts to save face.

“The Burmese people’s struggle is long and tough,” say the campaigners, “but as in South Africa, international pressure on the regime’s exploitative ventures could tip the balance. Because it’s hard or impossible for them to continue without insurance, this is an effective and wide-reaching approach for citizens everywhere to have a real impact.”

So far, as a result, the British government has begun to ask Lloyd's to cease its business with the Burmese military junta. Meanwhile, tens of thousands of emails and telephone calls have been bombarding key staff at Lloyd’s of London.

I think it's a very worthwhile cause. Please follow this link to take action.


  1. Hello, Rob.

    I will write a post on this next week. It's a shame these firms continue operating there.

    But I am writing this comment also to tell you that two bloggers have been imprisoned by the military Junta, one of them for 20 years and a half. It's the post I have written about them. It's in Spanish but both links are in English. If you can spread the word, I will be most grateful.

    Thank you in advance.

  2. Done. And thanks for giving me this opportunity!
    All the best