Myanmar’s military has imported weapons worth at least $1bn since seizing power in February 2021, despite “massive evidence of its responsibility for violent crimes”, an expert has said. of the United Nations.
Most of the weapons come from Russia, China and Singapore companies, Tom Andrews, the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Myanmar said in a report [PDF] released Wednesday in New York.
The exports consist of weapons, dual-use technology and materials used in the manufacture of weapons exported from the day of the coup on February 1, 2021, until December 2022.
“These weapons, and the materials to make more of them, continue to flow unabated to the Myanmar military despite overwhelming evidence of its responsibility for crimes of violence,” the report said. It identified more than 12,500 unique purchases or recorded shipments directly to the Myanmar military or known Myanmar arms dealers working for the military.
“The variety and quantity of items given to the Myanmar military since the coup is staggering,” it added, noting that the military has delivered weapons and equipment ranging from fighter jets to drones, equipment of communication and components for navy ships.
Myanmar has fallen into a coup crisis, sparking mass protests. A deadly crackdown has fueled armed resistance, with ethnic armed groups long at odds with the military joining forces in the so-called People’s Defense Forces (PDFs) to fight the generals.
The PDFs are aligned with the National Unity Government (NUG) formed by lawmakers ousted in the coup and others opposed to military rule.
The UN and rights groups have accused the military of human rights abuses in its attempts to crack down on the opposition, saying some incidents may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity. of the people.
In his report to the UN’s Human Rights Council in Geneva, Andrews pointed to last month’s attack on the village of Pazigyi in the central region of Sagaing, where reports indicate almost daily confrontations between the forces of resistance and soldiers.
As about 300 villagers, including children, gathered to mark the opening of a new NUG office, a Russian-made Yak-130 fighter jet dropped two 250kg (550 pounds ) crowd bomb.
“The ordinance exploded with deadly effect – ripping the bodies of men, women, and children open, turning their skin to ashes, and inflicting critical shrapnel wounds,” the report said.
Amidst the carnage, the attack continued as two Mi-35 attack helicopters opened fire on the survivors and those trying to help the wounded.
At least 160 people died and the remains of only 59 people have been identified, the report said.
“The attack is another example of the Myanmar junta’s possible crimes against humanity and war crimes against the people of Myanmar,” it said.
There is no doubt about the buyer
According to the report, Russian entities were the source of $406m in weapons and related equipment, Chinese entities $254m and Singapore-operating entities $254m.
Arms were also shipped from entities in India ($51m) and Thailand ($28m).
State-owned entities in Russia, China and India are among Andrew’s identified exporters.
“Over $947 million in arms-related trade identified as going directly to entities controlled by the Myanmar military—eg, the Directorate of Procurement, Directorate of Defense Industries, or specific branches of the military such as of the Myanmar Air Force or Tatmadaw Basic Training School,” the report said.
“This means that the military itself is listed as the recipient of trade-related documents, eliminating any doubt as to who will ultimately receive them.”
Andrews said he shared his findings with the relevant governments.
In their response, Russia and China accused the rapporteur of going beyond his mandate and “undermining the legitimate arms trade”.
India, meanwhile, said the arms contracts involving state-owned companies were signed by the previous government.
Andrews noted that he found no information indicating that entities owned or controlled by the governments of Singapore or Thailand, or the governments themselves, approved or transferred weapons to the Myanmar military. , and that arms dealers seem to be using the territories to transport. from their business “specifically the banking and shipping sectors”.
As a result of the report, the Singapore government has indicated that it is reviewing the effectiveness of its export controls, Andrews said.