“There are no shortcuts to changing the system” “When they distort  articles I have written…” “We just have to stop looking to our ‘leaders’ and start looking to each other” “Most of us are poor” “You will not liberate yourselves by toppling a puppet government” “There is possibly nothing more alienating than violence” “No one owns ideas”

Rohingya issue can make or break Unilever’s image

“In 2014 the United Nations passed a resolution calling for the reinstatement of Rohingya citizenship, so, if Unilever is backing the United Nations on this issue, there should be no reason why they cannot publicly and explicitly call for Rohingya citizenship themselves. Frankly, such a statement by Unilever would carry more influence with the Myanmar government than a non-binding UN resolution.” In this blog post, Shahid encourages people to register to join the...

Corporate culpability is hard to avoid in Myanmar

“The systematic violence and repression in Myanmar, quite frankly, is of such a nature that any corporations doing business there do put their executives and staff at risk of becoming accessories to Genocide, crimes against humanity, and gross abuses of human rights.  And it should be noted that there is no statute of limitations on these crimes; prosecution could occur years, even decades after the fact, once investigators have access to more complete information. The ethnic cleansing...

Unilever’s future tied to Rohingya issue

“The point here is that Unilever is a political entity.  They are actively involved in political advocacy and lobbying.  And with annual revenues higher than the budget of the United Nations, Unilever has enormous economic and political influence, and they use it. The selection of Unilever by the #WeAreAllRohingyaNow Campaign was not random.  We are reaching out to CEO Paul Polman only partially because of Unilever’s considerable investments in Myanmar, which total more than half a...

Unilever’s Catch 22

“More than half of Unilever’s profits are coming from so-called emerging markets, and Southeast Asia is of tremendous importance to them.  This is one of the reasons for their investments in Myanmar.  It is geostrategically positioned as a crossroads country, with convenient access to a number of regional markets.  It is understandable that the company does not want to estrange its partners in the Burmese government by condemning the genocide they are perpetrating against the...

Systematic genocide needs a systematic response

“What is happening to our Rohingya brothers and sisters is heartbreaking, and our emotions can push us in the direction of radical action; but we have to adhere to discipline and patience. If we go about this the wrong way, we will just make matters worse. I have received comments and messages from people ready to take action against companies like Unilever, to impose consequences upon them for their silent complicity with the genocide in Arakan. But I urge all of you to work in...

Real causes, realistic strategies for Rohingya

“Superficially, the conflict in Arakan, Myanmar appears to be a clear-cut case of religious hatred.  And it is natural for Muslims to react with outrage.  The images of atrocities and the stories of the Rohingya are incitement enough to stir religious anger; Buddhist monks murdering women and children for no reason except that they are Muslim.  But this is such an over-simplified narrative that it is actually deceptive, and if we do not understand the situation more deeply, we will...

Unilever’s fatal silence

“It is worth clarifying that the strategy being undertaken by the #WeAreAllRohingyaNow Campaign is not aimed at forcing multinationals to divest from Myanmar. On the contrary, it is precisely because they DO invest in Myanmar that they therefore have considerable influence over the behaviour of the government. We do not want them to withdraw, we want them to stay, even to increase their investments, because that is what gives us leverage against the regime. No one needs to tell the...

Myanmar’s “Future Victims List”

“We have received information that Rohingya Muslims in Maungdaw township have been prohibited from moving from one village to another unless they register for what is called a “National Verification Card” (NVC), which the Myanmar government claims is a procedural step towards citizenship for the Rohingya. However, any Rohingya who registers for the card is forced to identify himself or herself as “Bengali” not as Rohingya. Were the government genuinely interested in restoring...

The imperative of reviving enlightened self-interest

We need to understand what is happening, and resist the provocation of anti-Muslim sentiment.  We need to help people understand that they are being manipulated and misdirected. And, I think, the best way of doing that is for us to become involved in the issues that are affecting the general population. In this blog post, Shahid encourages both Muslims and non-Muslims to work together to solve the world’s...

Social media and corporate reputation

#Unilever will either be linked to genocide or opposition to genocide depending on what you do in #Myanmar @PaulPolman @LouiseOFresco — Shahid King Bolsen (@ShahidKBolsen) February 12, 2017 If you think that tweeting, retweeting, or liking and sharing posts on social media cannot have an impact on a company like #Unilever, you could not be more mistaken…. What is their reputation except what the public thinks about them and says about them? Well, that is largely determined today...