The Australian company Specialty Fashion Group, which owns six retail clothing brands including Katies and Queenspark, has ceased sourcing products from Burma in a public rejection of the country’s continued military dictatorship.
The company is among eight firms that took a similar stance and were listed in a report released last month, which was commissioned by Burma Campaign Australia. Specialty Fashion Group joins engineering firm Downer EDI and the insurance company QBE, which withdrew from Burmese trade earlier this year.
“We made a group decision to cease trading with Burma due to the continued repression of the Burmese people and the ongoing presence of military rule,” said Howard Herman, Specialty Fashion Group’s company secretary, in a statement released through Burma Campaign Australia on Monday.
Zetty Brake, spokeswoman for the campaign, celebrated Specialty Fashion Group’s stance in withdrawing trade and encouraged other companies to follow their lead.
“Corporate Australia needs to put people before profits and do the right thing by the people of Burma and withdraw,” she said.
Calculations from Burma Campaign Australia indicate that the Burmese military regime could potentially earn AU$2.76 billion (US$2.5 billion) through income tax, royalties and an equity stake in combined endeavors with just one Australian company, Twinza Oil. According to the campaign, this amount is sufficient to fund 25 per cent of the Burmese military for 10 years.
Some Australian churches and unions have shown similar support for the campaign, calling for companies to respond to Burma’s “ongoing atrocities” by ceasing trade with the nation. Military rule in Burma was instigated in 1962.