Firms in Europe, US helping Myanmar manufacture arms, report says
Jan 16: Companies in the United States, Europe and Asia have been helping Myanmar's military manufacture weapons used in human rights abuses, according to three former United Nations experts.
Companies from 13 countries - including France, Germany, China, India, Russia, Singapore and the United States - have been providing supplies that are "critical" to the production of weapons in Myanmar, the Special Advisory Council on Myanmar (SAC-M) said in a report released on Monday.
This support includes licenses, raw materials, software, parts and components, the experts said.
As a result, the Myanmar military, which has launched a bloody crackdown on its opposition after seizing power in a coup in February 2021, has become largely self-sufficient in manufacturing a range of weapons, they said. Produced in factories known as KaPaSa and run by the military's Directorate of Defence Industries (DDI), these weapons include guns, ammunition and landmines and are primarily being used to quash resistance to the coup, the SAC-M said.
"Foreign companies are enabling the Myanmar military - one of the world's worst human rights abusers - to produce many of the weapons it uses to commit daily atrocities against the Myanmar people," the SAC-M's Yanghee Lee, a former UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, said in a statement.
"Foreign companies and their home states have moral and legal responsibilities to ensure their products are not facilitating human rights violations against civilians in Myanmar," Lee said. "Failing to do so makes them complicit in the Myanmar military's barbaric crimes."
The report drew on a range of sources, including interviews with people associated with the Myanmar military as well as leaked budget documents from the Ministry of Defence.
It found that high precision machines manufactured by companies based in Austria, Germany, Japan, Taiwan and the US are currently being used by the Myanmar military at its weapons factories. These automated tools have turning, milling and grinding functions and play a critical role in the manufacturing of weapons, the report said.
Software to operate these machines is being provided by companies based in France, Israel and Germany, it said.
Singapore, meanwhile, functions as a strategic transit point for potentially significant volumes of items, including certain raw materials, that feed the Myanmar military's weapons production, and Taiwan is believed to serve as an important route for the military's purchase of the high precision machines, the report said.