Corporations And Organizations Are Leaving Building Owned By The Myanmar Military

In Myanmar, an office tower affiliated with the country’s military leadership is being abandoned by international organisations.

Coca-Cola, the World Bank, and McKinsey have left the Sule Square complex in Yangon, or are reviewing their leases.

The United Nations said the complex was built on military-owned land.

Myanmar’s military overthrew the democratically elected government in February 2021.

The coup, which occurred early in the morning, sparked protests resulting in hundreds of deaths throughout the country.

But even before taking power on February 1st, 2021, Myanmar’s military – which had previously ruled the country for almost half a century since 1962 – owned large tracts of land and controlled companies involved in everything from mining to banking.

The building sits on land leased from the military, according to a 2019 United Nations fact-finding mission report.

A group of activists, Justice for Myanmar, asked 18 tenants of an office and shop complex in the heart of Yangon to stop indirectly supporting the army.

Sule Square has big-name tenants that continue to lease office space in the building, indirectly supporting the army Justice for Myanmar said in a report.

Reuters reports that six of the companies have moved out or are reviewing their plans, but only one mentions the military connection. Other firms cite various reasons, such as business prospects.

By email, Coca-Cola said it would not renew its lease when it expires in the middle of next month due to changing business requirements.

For the rest of 2021, our office-based employees at Coca-Cola Limited (Myanmar) will continue to work from home in a safety-related initiative. We will communicate our new office address at a later date, it stated.

McKinsey & Company said in a statement to the BBC that it has terminated its lease on a serviced office at Sule Square early in 2021.

Reuters said it is not currently using its Sule Square office and is reviewing its lease.

The World Bank Group, which also has an office at the complex, told the BBC that it was assessing the situation in Myanmar according to internal policies and procedures.

The military owns the land on which Sule Square is built, according to Telenor, but it chose the location for a number of reasons, including safety. Telenor has not said if it plans to move out of the building.

Located near the historic Sule Pagoda in Yangon, Sule Square opened in 2017. It was developed by a local affiliate of the Hong Kong-listed Shangri-La Asia.

Shangri-La invested $125 million in the development in 2017.

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