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UN expert: Myanmar military imported $1 billion in weapons since 2021 coup


UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Myanmar’s military has imported at least $1 billion worth of weapons and related material from Russia, China and other countries since its February 2021 coup, some of which it has used to carry out atrocities against civilians, according to a U.N. report released Wednesday.

The weapons continue to flow to the military despite overwhelming evidence of its responsibility for the atrocities, including some that amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity, said Tom Andrews, the U.N. independent investigator on human rights in Myanmar.

The report also identified Singapore as among the main suppliers, followed by India and Thailand.

Myanmar is mired in strife because of a political crisis unleashed when the military took power. Its takeover prompted widespread peaceful protests that security forces suppressed with deadly force, triggering armed resistance throughout the country that the army has been unable to quell.

The report documents over 12,500 purchases that were shipped directly to the Myanmar military or known Myanmar arms dealers working for the military from Feb. 1, 2021, when the military ousted the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi, until December 2022, Andrews said at a news conference.

He said the volume and diversity of equipment the military received is “staggering,” ranging from fighter jets and attack helicopters and drones to advanced missile systems, tank upgrades, sophisticated communications equipment, radar complexes and components for naval ships.

Andrews said he had received “highly credible and detailed information from confidential sources” identifying the major networks and companies involved in the arms trade with Myanmar. Over $947 million of the $1 billion in equipment went directly to entities controlled by the Myanmar military, he said.

The report identifies $406 million worth of weapons and material that went to the Myanmar junta from Russia, $267 million worth from China, $254 million from Singapore, $51 million from India and $28 million from Thailand.

Since the coup, it said, Russian private and state-owned companies have transferred fighter jets and their spare parts, advanced missile systems, reconnaissance and attack drones, attack helicopters and other systems to the junta.

Numerous private and state-owned companies registered in China and Hong Kong supplied the Myanmar military with an extensive array of arms, equipment and raw materials between October 2021 and December 2022, including advanced trainer jets, light attack aircraft, tank upgrades and repairs for Chinese fighter jets, which make up the Myanmar Air Force fleet, the report said.

They also supplied aluminum, copper, steel, rubber and lubricants for use in Myanmar's domestic weapons manufacturing, it said.

Unlike with Russia and China, and to a lesser extent India, Andrews said he received no information indicating that the governments of Singapore or Thailand approved or transferred arms to the Myanmar military.


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