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Article

25 Oct 2021

Author:
Aung Myo Min, The Diplomat

Telenor’s irresponsible exit from Myanmar hurts Norway’s human rights reputation

"Telenor in Myanmar: Norway’s Human Rights Reputation Is On the Line", 25 October 2021

Norway is a global leader when it comes to protecting human rights defenders...
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…In July, “after considering all possible alternatives and events,” Norway’s largely state-owned telecoms provider agreed to sell its Myanmar operations to the Lebanese firm M1 Group. According to the Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO), M1 is “infamous for its business activities in countries with violent totalitarian and extremist regimes.”…

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On February 1 of this year, the Myanmar military attempted a coup d’état…It has employed murder, torture, and sexual violence. It has locked up peaceful protestors. It has raided and razed villages, destroying and looting property...

Both Telenor and Norway have spoken out against these atrocities. And, to its credit, Telenor acted in principled ways following the attempted coup...In so doing, Telenor earned the respect of the international community, of Myanmar civil society, and of its millions of users.

Sadly, the same cannot now be said of its shoddily planned exit...

Telenor says that its decision to sell “was not motivated by financial or strategic objectives,” but guided by its “commitment to its values and standards.” This commitment requires scrutiny. The potential sale of Telenor requires assessment of any adverse human rights impact and prevention or mitigation where they present…This must be accompanied by rigorous human rights due diligence informed by the U.N.’s Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights as well as the OECD Guidelines.
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