Bangkok. Independent international experts say companies from at least 13 countries helped build Myanmar’s ability to make weapons that are being used to persecute people after a 2021 military coup. The report released on Monday by the Special Advisory Council for Myanmar details how the country increased arms production after the military seized power on February 1, 2021. The army had overthrown the elected government. The coup marked the end of progress toward democracy after 50 years of military rule. Opponents of the military regime took up arms after security forces cracked down on peaceful protesters.
Some UN experts have described the situation as a civil war. The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners said more than 2,700 civilians had been killed in the violence, including 277 children, while more than 13,000 people were detained. In fact, this number is said to be much higher. The report states that companies in the US, Europe, Asia and the Middle East are supporting the military supply chain. The report requests these companies to ensure that they do not indulge in human rights violations.
This increase in arms trade in the country comes at a time when some countries have imposed arms embargoes against certain individuals and companies involved in arms trade or manufacture. In October, the US Treasury Department imposed sanctions against businessman Aung Mo Myint for conducting arms deals on behalf of the military. His brother Heung Mo Myint and his company Dynasty International Company Limited were also targeted. In November, the US imposed sanctions on suppliers of aircraft to the military, citing deadly airstrikes on civilians.
The report states that there are no private arms manufacturers in Myanmar, so any such companies are run by the Ministry of Defense and the Directorate of Defense Industry. Foreign companies profiting from the suffering of the Myanmar people must be held accountable, said Sidoti, a human rights lawyer. According to the report, Myanmar’s arms manufacturing ranges from assault rifles and machine guns to mortars, anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons, missiles, missile launchers, cannons and air defense systems. Some people have been quoted in it as saying that land and sea landmines are also made in Myanmar.
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