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Australian clothing chain pulls out of Burma

Oct 12, 2009 (DVB), A leading Australian fashion chain has confirmed it will stop sourcing products from Burma after being named in a campaign exposing Australian business links to the country.

In a letter to Burma Campaign Australia (BCA), the secretary of the Speciality Fashion Group, Howard Herman, cited "the continued repression of the Burmese people and the ongoing presence of military rule" as a reason for it to cease trading.

"Burma's violation of Speciality Fashion Groups Human and Social Rights Compliance requirements has meant that we can no longer deal with any company trading in Burma," he said.

Last month BCA launched a campaign, Don't Deal With Burma, which linked a brand of Speciality Fashion Groups, Miller, to product-sourcing from Burma. According to BCA, the chain has annual sales of more than $AUS500 million.

Zetty Blake, spokesperson for BCA, welcomed the withdrawal of the chain and urged other companies to follow suit.

"Australian companies with business interests in Burma are helping fund one of the world's most brutal military dictatorships and their actions including systematic human rights violations," she said.

"Corporate Australia needs to put people before profits and do the right thing by the people of Burma and withdraw."

Campaigners in Australia last month targeted the Australian airline company, Jetstar, which runs four flights per week to Burma.

Jetstar reacted by saying that funds from its flights go towards maintenance of Rangoon airport, and that cutting business ties to the country would hurt the Burmese people.

According to BCA, Australian companies "could be handing the Burmese dictatorship as much as $US2.8 billion in revenue".

Two other Australian companies, Downer EDI and QBE, recently stopped subsidiary operations in Burma.

Reporting by Francis Wade


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