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Human rights experts call on banks to stop financing the Myanmar government’s arms trade

Since the February 2021 coup, more than 5,000 civilians have been killed, with at least three million displaced. More than 20,000 political prisoners are still being held. Military air strikes against civilian targets have increased fivefold in the past six months, even as the regime lost military outposts, territory and troops to the resistance.

Potential supporter

In one new reportTom Andrews, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Myanmar, identified 16 banks in seven countries that processed transactions related to the administration’s military procurement activities in the past two years.

In addition, 25 banks provide correspondent banking services to Myanmar’s state-owned banks under the control of the military junta.

“With the government’s pursuit, it is important that financial institutions take their human rights obligations seriously and do not facilitate the government’s deadly dealings,” he speak.

He emphasized that banks associated with Myanmar’s state-owned banks pose a high risk of facilitating military attacks against civilians and emphasized their fundamental obligation to avoid facilitating crimes , including war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Tom Andrews, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar

Tom Andrews, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar

Good news and bad news

He noted a decline in the Myanmar military’s annual procurement of weapons and military supplies through the official banking system, from $377 million to $253 million in the year ended March 2019. 2023.

However, he warned that authorities circumvent sanctions by exploiting vulnerabilities, altering financial institutions and taking advantage of inadequate coordination and enforcement among member states.

“The good news is that the regime is increasingly isolated…the bad news is that the regime is circumventing sanctions and other measures by exploiting loopholes in the sanctions regime, converting financial institutions and exploiting the failure of Member States to fully coordinate and implement sanctions.” action,” the Special Rapporteur said.

Moved from Singapore to Thailand

Report Banking in the Deal of Death: How Banks and the Government Enabled the Military Council in Myanmar has seen a “dramatic shift” in the role of the two Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries as sources of weapons and military supplies.

Next last year identified Singapore as an important sourceThe Singapore government investigated the entities involved, leading to a 90% reduction in weapons shipped to Myanmar from Singapore-registered companies.

Opposite, Military procurement through Thailand has gone in the opposite directionthe New information posted noted.

The junta imported nearly $130 million in weapons and military supplies from Thailand-registered suppliers in the year ending March 2024 – more than double the total from the previous year.

Thai banks have played an important role in this change. For example, Siam Commercial Bank only facilitated more than $5 million worth of transactions involving the Myanmar military in the year ending March 2023, but that number has increased sharply to more than $100 million. in the next year.

There needs to be political will

Mr. Andrews emphasized: “Singapore’s example proves that a Government with enough political will can make a significant difference in stopping the death trade in Myanmar.”

“Thailand has an opportunity to follow this strong example by taking action that will deal a severe blow to the junta’s ability to sustain escalating attacks against civilian targets. I urge it to do so,” he concluded.

Appointed by the United Nations based in Geneva Eastern Human Rights Associationand form part of it Special proceduresThe Special Rapporteur is tasked with monitoring and assessing the rights situation in certain thematic or country situations.

They work voluntarily, are not UN employees and do not receive a salary.

A rural road in Myanmar. (image file)

A rural road in Myanmar. (file photo)

UN food warehouses were looted

Amid the ongoing conflict, a warehouse belonging to the United Nations emergency food relief agency was destroyed. robbed and burned in Maungdaw, northern Rakhine province last Saturday.

It contains 1,175 tons of food and life-saving supplies, enough emergency food to feed 64,000 people for a month. However, due to increased conflict in the region, its employees have been unable to access the warehouse since late May.

United Nations World Food Program (WFP) strongly condemned the incident, stressing that the seizure of humanitarian goods and destruction of facilities had undermined the country’s food assistance program for people affected by conflict in Myanmar.

It calls on all parties to the conflict to comply with their obligations under international humanitarian law to respect and protect aid facilities and assets, and ensure humanitarian access unencumbered.

The agency said WFP was gathering detailed information about the circumstances surrounding the incident.


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