Praxis Mutual Funds® has joined two efforts to use investor influence to address military attacks on an ethnic minority in the country of Myanmar in Southeast Asia.
Myanmar’s Rakhine state is home to 1.1 million Rohingya people, an ethnic minority that for decades has faced a government-sanctioned campaign of forced relocation, violence, and persecution. Although they have lived in Myanmar for generations, the Rohingya are not among the 135 ethnic groups the Myanmar government recognizes by law, and most of the country's Rohingya are denied citizenship and freedom of movement.
Due to a violent and deadly government crackdown, more than 740,000 Rohingya fled to neighboring Bangladesh in 2016 and 2017. This has created a major refugee and humanitarian crisis.
The first investor effort has involved asking the major oil companies operating in Myanmar to use their leverage with the state-owned Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise to press the regime to implement the recommendations of a commission chaired by former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan to quell violence against the Rohingya.
The second action has involved sending investor letters to the world’s top publicly-traded jewelry retailers asking them to adopt and implement a policy of not buying gems such as jade and rubies mined in Myanmar. Myanmar's army earns billions of dollars through its business interests in the gem trade, and if it has no market to sell its gems, it may trigger policy changes in regard to the Rohingya.
Praxis hopes that these investor initiatives will help contribute to a resolution to the crisis.