SINGAPORE, 16 September 2021: The International Union of Food Asia Pacific launched a campaign to mark Democracy Day, 15 September, targeting Accor and Hilton, two hotel groups that manage hotel properties in Myanmar.
*This report has been updated 1200 on 16 September with an official response from Accor. See below.
The IUFAP https://iufap.org/ campaign gained the support of Justice for Myanmar, which tweeted on the eve of the United Nations International Day of Democracy. https://twitter.com/JusticeMyanmar/status/1437636850340990977?s=20
The tweet alleged: “Accor not bothered about 1088 ppl killed by Myanmar junta. Biz as usual while the junta commits heinous crimes. Since 2013 Accor’s been in biz w/ Max Myanmar, providing funds to support Rohingya genocide.”
Established In 2007, the United Nations General Assembly resolved to observe 15 September as the International Day of Democracy with the purpose of promoting and upholding the principles of democracy.
The International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tourism, Tobacco and Allied Workers Associations (IUF) established in 1920, leads efforts to organise independent, democratic trade unions in the Asia Pacific through international solidarity. The IUF Asia-Pacific is a regional organisation of the global IUF established with its own constitution in 1962.
IUF Asia-Pacific’s campaign that supports the movement to return democracy to Myanmar after the 1 February military coup accuses that two international hotel chains of doing business with Myanmar’s military cartel.
On the International Day of Democracy (15 September), IUF cautioned Accor and Hilton to stop doing business with the military and military cronies in Myanmar.
“In 2019 the United Nations Human Rights Council called for an end to the impunity of Myanmar’s military by isolating them financially. Despite this, global companies like the Accor and Hilton hotel groups kept doing business with the military and military cronies in Myanmar,” the IUF statement alleged.
The campaign statement continued: “Even after the military coup on 1 February 2021, Accor continues with business as usual. It claimed Justice for Myanmar documents showed Hilton Hotels Corp is still in business with the military cartel.”
The statement stopped short of identifying which of the 11 properties managed by Accor are owned by the military or its associates. However, it made a brief reference to the French headquartered company having a business relationship since 2013 with Novotel Yangon Max without providing further details.
Hilton Asia Pacific office responded last March to a TTR Weekly report that quoted Justice of Myanmar documents claiming it had a business relationship with the military or its association. See the link below.
Public information on the business relationship between Accor Asia Pacific and the 11 properties it manages in Myanmar remains sketchy particularly regarding allegations that hotel owners have cultivated links with the military junta and its close associates.
TTR Weekly contacted Accor’s Asia Pacific communications and CSR office asking for a response on the IUF allegations. Accor said it would post a response shortly.
“Accor is not aware of any link between our owner partners in Myanmar and the military regime. The verification processes used by Accor for partners/hotel owners with whom Accor chooses to work are stringent.
“Accor has recently completed certain KYC (Know Your Counterparty) checks on each of the owner counterparties in Myanmar. None of these owners appeared on any list of sanctions.
“As at the date of this email – there are no subsisting sanctions against any of Accor’s partners in Myanmar – including the Max Myanmar Group. If it emerges that any individual is on a list of sanctions, Accor will act in accordance with its legal obligations.
“We are monitoring local developments very closely and are extremely attentive to the situation and to the safety of the employees in our branded hotels. Accor prides itself on its record of social responsibility and has a firm commitment to supporting sustainable tourism development in Myanmar in a way that honours and respects the people, communities and natural environment of the country.”
However, Justice for Myanmar pointed out that Accor’s statement was still ignoring the genocide donations made by Max in 2017 and which were outlined by the UN Fact-Finding Mission.