The companies have resigned from their military-affiliated offices


Demonstrators wave National League for Democracy flags at Soli Square on February 22, 2021 in downtown Yangon, Myanmar.

Sule Square in downtown Yangon was the site of the pro-democracy protest in February

A block of high-profile offices in Myanmar linked to the country’s military leaders is witnessing a mass exodus of international organizations.

Coca-Cola, the World Bank and McKinsey told the BBC that they had left or were reviewing leases at the Sully Square complex in Yangon.

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

The Myanmar military seized power from the democratically elected government in February.

100 days have passed since the coup in the early morning, sparking mass protests across the country in which hundreds were killed.

However, even before they took power on February 1, the Myanmar military – which initially ruled the country for nearly half a century after seizing power in 1962 – owned large swaths of land and controlled companies involved in everything from mining to banking.

The land on which the building is built is leased from the army, According to the 2019 UN Fact-Finding Mission Report.

Last month, Justice for Myanmar called on 18 tenants of an office and store complex in the heart of Yangon, the commercial hub of Myanmar, to stop indirectly supporting the military.

“Sully Square has tenants of big names who continue to rent office space in the building, and indirectly support the military,” Justice for Myanmar said in a report.

According to the Reuters news agency, six companies said they have left or are reviewing their plans, but only one company mentioned the military connection. Other companies cited various reasons, including business prospects.

In an emailed statement, Coca-Cola told the BBC it would not renew the lease when it expires in the middle of next month due to “changing business requirements”.

“Our employees at Coca-Cola Limited (Myanmar) will continue to work from home until the end of 2021 as part of overall safety measures. We will report our new office location at a later time,” she added.

In a statement sent to the BBC, consulting firm McKinsey & Company said: “We no longer have space in a rented office in Sully Square. We have terminated the lease in early 2021.”

Reuters said it was not currently using its Sully Square office and was reviewing its rents.

A spokesman for the World Bank Group, which also has an office in the compound, told the BBC that it was “assessing the situation in Myanmar, in accordance with internal policies and procedures.”

State-owned Norwegian telecommunications company Telenor said it learned that the military owned the land on which Sule Square was built before moving there, but that it chose the location for several reasons, including safety. Telenor did not say whether or not it was planning to move out of the building.

Sule Square, located near the historic Sule Pagoda in Yangon, opened in 2017. It was developed by a local subsidiary of Hong Kong-listed Shangri-La Asia, which also operates the building and the adjacent hotel.

Shangri-La said in 2017 that it had invested $ 125 million (£ 88.5 million) in the project.

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