MILAN — Following the coup that unfolded in Myanmar Feb. 1 when the military junta overthrew the fragile democratic government helmed by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, Italy’s Benetton Group said Friday it is temporarily halting distribution to the country for all new orders until peace and democracy are restored.
“The Benetton Group is a loudspeaker for fundamental values such as inclusivity, integration and nonviolence in each market where it operates,” said Massimo Renon, chief executive officer of the Italian fashion group. “We can’t help but contribute as a company to make sure these [values] are respected, and we are committed to do our part. We’re suspending the orders coming from the country to show a strong and concrete signal,” he added.
“Our hope is that the situation returns, as soon as possible, to one that guarantees the people’s fundamental rights and that our group may once again resume its action of supporting the local populations, which also involves promoting work and dignity,” Renon concluded.
Benetton’s move follows a statement issued last week by a dozen fashion trade and labor organizations, including the American Apparel & Footwear Association, the Ethical Trading Initiative, the Fair Labor Association and Social Accountability International, which called for the quick and peaceful restoration of Myanmar’s “legitimate civilian government.”
The military coup generated civil unrest and protests across the country, showing support for Suu Kyi, who has faced several still unproven charges in court for allegedly violating import restrictions and contravening a natural disaster law, among other allegations. The civilian leader was denied legal representation. The country’s police and military forces have responded to the protests with at times lethal violence.
Benetton has over the years become synonymous with inclusive and thought-provoking advertisements portraying people of all provenances and backgrounds.