Swarovski & other European firms draw criticism from Burma Campaign UK for "breaking spirit" of EU sanctions on Burma when "human rights situation is getting worse, not better"

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5 May 2011

[DOC] Burma Campaign UK statement on Swarovski

Author: Burma Campaign UK

Under EU sanctions legislation it is illegal to invest in the gems or precious stones industry in Burma, and illegal to export gems or precious stones from Burma to the EU...The EU, Canada and EU have all decided to maintain these sanctions, so Swarovski cannot argue that they visited in anticipation of sanctions being lifted. This industry is also linked with human rights abuses and environmental destruction. Given this, Swarovski have questions to answer as to why they took part in this delegation to Burma. [Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited Swarovski to respond to this rejoinder; if it responds, we will include its statement here]

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Company response
2 May 2011

Swarovski Statement

Author: Swarovski

Recently, a representative from Swarovski participated, along with more than 20 other representatives of Austrian companies, in a delegation initiated by the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber (WKO), an official body that aims to coordinate and represent the interests of the Austrian business community on a national and international level. This delegation was involved in a fact finding mission to explore market potential in various Asian markets. As part of the trip, the delegation visited with local Chambers of Commerce including a brief stop in Burma.

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25 April 2011

European firms seize on Suu Kyi release to hunt profit in Burma

Author: Andrew Buncombe & Joseph Allchin, Independent [UK]

...Swarovski was among two dozen European companies that recently visited Burma on a controversial business trip...[The Austrian] embassy said [it] was an "economic fact-finding trip" and involved no contact with Burmese government officials...EU sanctions do not constitute a blanket ban on trade with Burma...[but] they are designed to tightly restrict trade in certain areas, including arms, gems and timber..."European trade delegations may not break the letter of sanctions law but they certainly break the spirit of EU policy," said Mark Farmaner, of the Burma Campaign UK. "...the human rights situation is getting worse, not better. Any European companies going into Burma not only risk association with a government committing crimes against humanity, but also high profile boycott campaigns in their own countries."..[S]everal Western corporations are pressing to enter the market... Ms Suu Kyi...and her party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), argue [sanctions] should remain for now, believing ordinary people are not harmed by them...Thomas Polacek, Asia sales manager for Roxel RMG, said he believed Burma had become a "Chinese colony"..."If, as Europeans, we want to sit back and watch others do business, that is one way... but there is a big debate within Brussels about this," he said. [also refers to Austrian Economic Chamber of Commerce, Union of Myanmar Federation Chamber of Commerce, P&P Consulting, Pioneer Aerodrome Services (part of Asia World)]

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