Web and cellphone blackouts worsen in Karenni State


As Telenor Group pushes via the sale of their Myanmar subsidiary to a military-linked consortium, there’s rising concern in Myanmar and Norway over the likelihood that the junta will achieve entry to the private information of the community’s 18 million Myanmar prospects.

In an interview with Myanmar Now, Norwegian decide Hanne Sophie Greve warns that Telenor and Norwegian authorities may very well be responsible for complicity in crimes towards humanity, in a worse case situation.

She mentioned that Telenor ought to both promote to a accountable purchaser, that’s not associated to the navy in Myanmar, or shut down their community if a accountable purchaser can’t be discovered.

Because the coup, Telenor has complied with greater than 200 information requests from the navy junta, with every request consisting of a number of cellphone numbers.

Telenor instructed Myanmar Now, “Violating or not complying with directives issued underneath the prevailing authorized framework, would have extreme and fully unacceptable penalties for our staff.”

However Greve argues that it’s the duty of the corporate’s management and house owners, which incorporates the Norwegian authorities, to in no way contribute to attainable crimes towards humanity in Myanmar.

Greve has labored extensively on worldwide legislation. She has beforehand served, inter alia, as an Skilled within the UN Fee of Consultants for the Former Yugoslavia (the Warfare Crimes Fee), as Choose on the European Courtroom of Human Rights, and has additionally labored with Myanmar refugees in Thailand on the UN Excessive Commissioner for Refugees.

What are your issues associated to Telenor Group’s sale of its Myanmar unit?

My foremost concern, after all, is the roughly 18 million prospects and their information. I feel that it could be feared that the behaviour of the junta in Myanmar at this time quantities to crimes towards humanity. For that reason, I do consider that anybody who assists the navy in Myanmar in having access to information associated to maybe 18 million prospects of Telenor may very well be aiding and abetting crimes towards humanity.

What do you assume Telenor ought to be doing otherwise?

In my view the very first thing that ought to be achieved underneath the circumstances is to make sure that nobody inside Myanmar has entry to any details about the purchasers of Telenor in Myanmar. Thereby Telenor would be sure that nobody may be pressured, no person may be requested to launch such info. That, for my part, is the very first step.

The second step ought to be to have the sale, nicely, I would like it cancelled, however a minimum of to be postponed, in order that it may very well be very fastidiously thought of, if this may very well be aiding and abetting crimes towards humanity.

I feel that it will be advisable for Telenor to ask the chief public prosecutor in Norway to provide an opinion concerning the attainable penalties of the sale. Telenor ought to await that opinion. I can’t think about that the reply can be that releasing 18 million prospects’ info can’t be aiding and abetting, if the navy’s behaviour in Myanmar already, or tomorrow, quantities to crimes towards humanity. So, I hope that ultimately there can be no sale. Not this week, not by the fifteenth February and never sooner or later, both. However, a minimum of, allow us to have it postponed. However, instantly, freeze all, completely all details about all the purchasers in Myanmar.

The Norwegian authorities’s line appears to be that, though Telenor is a majority state owned firm, they don’t intrude in firm affairs and that that is fully as much as the board. Do you assume it is acceptable that the Norwegian authorities is taking a hands-off method when the sale, as you state, may quantity to aiding and abetting?

In my view, the federal government can’t wash its palms on this case. That’s to say, the problem is much too critical. I actually agree that in on a regular basis issues, small issues, atypical gross sales, it’s not for the federal government to intervene. Then it is for the board to resolve. However, with regards to potential crimes towards humanity, that is no extra the case, for my part. Under no circumstances. For that reason, the previous few days, strain is mounting on the federal government, and on the minister who’s coping with firm issues, to behave within the case. I do know that the Norwegian authorities in precept and normally may be very, very involved concerning the scenario in Myanmar. That is the method by the federal government. It can’t be mixed with staying palms off with regards to a possible sale to individuals who may share the data with the junta in Myanmar.

If the sale goes forward and is discovered to be aiding and abetting crimes towards humanity, who may very well be accountable?

Effectively, initially, God forbid they go forward with the sale. However, if that very, very unlucky scenario would happen— Norway is sure by the Rome Statute of the Worldwide Legal Courtroom, which signifies that crimes towards humanity, even when Myanmar is just not a celebration to that Statute, may result in a criticism towards a minimum of Telenor, or maybe even, in a worst-case situation, towards Norwegian authorities for not having stopped the sale.

So in your opinion, may Norwegian authorities who’ve authority over the state’s majority shareholdings in Telenor Myanmar, even be complicit in crimes towards humanity in the event that they continues to take a palms off method and the sale proceeds?

Worst case situation, sure. The primary query is whether or not crimes towards humanity are dedicated by the junta in Myanmar at this time or within the close to future. Presupposing that that is the case, which sadly, I feel it might be, then that may be the ultimate consequence. They’ve each probability to cease the sale. They’ve been warned. They’re totally conscious of the sensitivity of telecommunications information. At the moment I’m a decide in Norway. The nation has very strict guidelines. If the police or the prosecutor want to have details about my phone calls, they’ll get it in relation to felony instances, if, and provided that, a court docket agrees. So, Telenor is totally conscious of the sensitivity of all the data they’ve. They know completely nicely that that is extraordinarily delicate. The corporate can’t hand over its property rights, so to talk, to this info and never hand over the corporate’s obligation to guard the data. They might maybe promote to anybody, however with out the data. In my view, monetary points can no extra be invoked at this stage.

Below worldwide felony legislation, is there a threat that the present members of the Telenor Group board may very well be complicit in crimes towards humanity in the event that they proceed with the sale?

Sure, completely. Completely. The highest administration and the board are those primarily accountable on this case. It is for the board to forestall Telenor from aiding and abetting crimes towards humanity.

Based on Myanmar Now sources, the military-linked firm Shwe Byain Phyu will personal nearly all of Telenor Myanmar following its sale to M1 Group. Telenor continues to say they won’t touch upon market hypothesis they usually have refused to inform Myanmar Now the identify of the authorized entity they intend to promote to, and the jurisdiction. What’s your view of those circumstances of the sale?

If I’ve a bomb in my hand, I do not give it over to you and say, ‘I do not care what occurs.’ They can’t underneath the circumstances, see it as one thing that is past their management. That’s to say, if the client is a really accountable and first rate firm that’s recognized to behave very correctly, and if that individual firm in 5 years’ time would change completely and behave very badly, that may not be the duty of Telenor. However, if Telenor sells to somebody who has a status for not being accountable, or has hyperlinks to the current navy junta, that could be a totally different concern. And that’s the case because it stands. It’s for Telenor to provide the proof that the client is appropriate, that’s that there may be no suspicion that the client will share the private information of the community’s 18 million Myanmar prospects with the navy.

Telenor has been saying that the rationale for promoting is that they’d not be according to their values in the event that they stayed in Myanmar. So due to this fact, they should depart. They’ve additionally claimed that in the event that they continued working in Myanmar, they must activate lawful interception, which may breach the EU sanctions. So they’re implying that leaving Myanmar, by promoting to M1 Group, is the very best situation for human rights. How would you reply to that?

That, for my part, is a false declare. The best choice, if they can not discover a first rate purchaser, is to shut down completely. To not promote in any respect. Shut it down. That is all. Telenor can’t say that human rights matter solely so long as the corporate operates inside Myanmar. Human rights are equally necessary in reference to a sale. I’ve been debating it with Telenor on TV in Norway, they usually’re saying simply what you mentioned, we’ve got to go away due to human rights and many others. I say I actually recognize that you just need to depart underneath the circumstances. However it’s a must to be sure that human rights aren’t violated by the best way you permit. That is an absolute obligation underneath the rules for enterprise and human rights made by the UN, and the OECD. Corporations have an obligation to guard their prospects all through. The sale is a part of it. They’ve to make sure human rights within the means of promoting they usually have to make sure that the client is just not somebody who will give the data to the junta in Myanmar.

Because the navy coup on the primary of February final 12 months, Telenor has fulfilled a minimum of 200 directives from the navy junta to handover private information of consumers, with every directive exposing a number of cellphone numbers. Telenor’s response to that is that if they’d have denied these requests, that may put their workers in peril, so they’d no alternative. How would you reply to that?

The duty in instances like this rests with the management. Given the scenario inside Myanmar, the choice to not handover info must be made out of exterior. It must be ensured that nobody working for Telenor inside Myanmar can be ready to launch any info given the circumstances. That may be a duty for the management.

Now there are lots of individuals in Myanmar who’re scared of what is going to occur if the proposed Telenor sale goes via. As a decide and in addition as a Norwegian citizen, what can be your message to them?

We are going to make each effort to see that there shall be no hurt. I can promise nothing, however I shall save no effort to attempt to see to it. And I do know that many, many individuals in Norway are deeply involved in the meanwhile.

Myanmar Now could be an unbiased information service offering free, correct and unbiased information to the individuals of Myanmar in Burmese and English.

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