The Cost of Cheap Labor
(Part of The Darkness Visible series)
As the Aung San Suu Kyi says goodbye to the United States the rest of the world has begun to place their bids on Burma. Companies across the globe have started buying out the country that was just recently off limits to the outside world. From China to Europe to the United States and Canada... the rush for the next Taiwan went off without much fanfare.
For those of us in the consumer world this means that soon you could be buying goods made in a country that is currently engaged in genocide. Your next phone, your next pair of jeans, your next blu-ray... they all might be funding a campaign of ethnic cleansing. To complicate this is the fact that you don't currently know what companies are operating in what countries and with whom they are doing business.
In recent years we learned that diamonds you purchase here in the United States could be coming from countries currently using child soldiers and forced labor. It took decades for this information to reach the surface as corporate jewelers willingly racked up profits while innocent people died as a result. It wasn't till pressure was applied by the citizens of the Western world that these corporations backed off and stopped using blood diamonds (well most of them).
When you go to the grocery you can now find labels that say "free trade". This means that when you buy these products your money are is going to the people who grew the product and not their exploiters. The product you buy under "free trade" can help you rest assure your money is not fueling war crimes or exploitation of cheap labor.
So that is how we end up in Myanmar once again.
With the end of sanctions upon Myanmar's exports the West is ready to start importing cheap goods from a shamefully poor country. These products aren't being made in any large supply just yet. So nobody can say for sure where the products we will be importing will be made or who will profit from them. That is why those who are watching Myanmar's economic whirlwind of change are dazzled by the opportunities.
For those of us who are aware of the genocide in Myanmar it is clear who will ultimately pay the price of economic change in Burma. The Rohingya are already forced into solidarity and remain cut off from any sense of what an economy really is. Their lives remain under threat as the Buddhist population of Burma continues to attack relentlessly. And with laws that ban the Rohingya from participating in the economy and community it remains impossible for the Rohingya to gain from economic growth.
With the Buddhist majority in Myanmar growing the oppressed minorities will become more isolated than ever before. The people who attack them on a daily basis will have more resources to draw upon while the Rohingya will be even more vulnerable than before. Their suffering will then continue to be ignored as the Western world will indulge upon the cheap boost to their corporations' profit margins.
That is why a lot of people just like you are taking action now. You can do your part to hold these companies honest as they venture into business with genocidal regimes like Myanmar. All you have to do is read the following page and sign the petition. It will tell the United States Government that you want to know who is doing business in Burma and with whom they are doing it. That way we don't have to wait to know what products they are producing with the blood of innocent lives.
Please read, please sign, and please share. This petition only has till October 4Th.