Tue, 12 Dec 2023

Rights Group Names Countries, Companies Propping up Myanmar Junta

Voice of America
26 Jan 2023, 18:06 GMT+10

Myanmar's ruling junta is getting support from more than 60 foreign governments and international organizations including United Nations entities, according to a study by the group Justice for Myanmar, which monitors human rights violations in the Southeast Asian country.

Justice for Myanmar published a new report Wednesday, Developing a Dictatorship, that lists the governments and international organizations that it says have provided political, technical and financial assistance to the junta.

On Feb. 1, 2021, Myanmar's military took power in a coup, which led to the ouster of the democratically elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi and was strongly rejected by the people of Myanmar with widespread protests around the country.

Justice for Myanmar said in its report that "22 foreign governments; 26 intergovernmental organizations (including 14 UN entities); 8 foreign financial institutions; and 8 other international organizations" have provided the junta with political and financial support. It said the support came "in the form of diplomatic relations, development initiatives, technical cooperation, and property relations, among others."

The report says the governments of Russia, China, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Laos, and Thailand are among those legitimizing the junta by officially recognizing them as the government of Myanmar.

The report also says that "multiple United Nations entities including UNICEF, UNOCHA, the IOM, the WHO, and the FAO have presented their credentials to, or signed agreements with, the military junta."

U.N. officials in New York did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but the organization's humanitarian bodies frequently work in countries controlled by oppressive regimes in order to carry on life-saving work.

Regarding technical cooperation with the junta, the report names organizations such as the National Defense Academy of Japan and the Japan Self-Defense Forces; the German Government Federal Foreign Office; and the Colombo Plan Staff College in Manila, along with many others.

There was no immediate response from the Myanmar junta to the Justice for Myanmar report.

FILE - In this Feb. 28, 2021, photo protesters hold posters with the image of detained civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi during a demonstration against the military coup in Naypyidaw, Myanmar. FILE - In this Feb. 28, 2021, photo protesters hold posters with the image of detained civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi during a demonstration against the military coup in Naypyidaw, Myanmar.

Yadanar Maung, Justice for Myanmar's spokesperson, said in a statement to VOA, "The many and varied forms of international support to the junta that we have documented help sustain its ongoing war crimes and crimes against humanity, and prolong the military dictatorship."

According to a recent report by the advocacy group Human Rights Watch, Japan's Yokogawa Bridge Corp. apparently sent more than $1 million in 2022 to Myanmar Economic Corporation, an organization owned by Myanmar's military, for a "Japanese government development aid project."

A Japanese Foreign Ministry official told HRW the Japanese government is "not in a position to explain" the payments to MEC as they are transactions "between private companies."

Furthermore, a recent report on Myanmar by a panel of former U.N. officials identified companies in the United States and at least 12 other countries in Europe and Asia that have been helping the Myanmar military to manufacture weapons used in human rights abuses.

Referring to Justice for Myanmar's 185-page report, Maung told VOA that it is "largely based on open-source research, utilizing government documents, organization websites, social media and junta propaganda, as well as some leaked documents. The research took place through the last half of 2022."

When asked by VOA about any response from the governments or organizations mentioned in the report, Maung said, "where an organization has responded we have added a note at the bottom of each case study."

The report includes 18 detailed case studies and provides clear recommendations for what Justice for Myanmar believes must be done to prevent the junta from gaining more funds, resources and power.

In a press briefing by Justice for Myanmar on Wednesday, Maung said, "It has been two years since the Myanmar military's attempted coup. Over 2,700 people have been killed and more than 13,600 people are still detained.

"The junta is waging a scorched-earth campaign against the people of Myanmar, carrying out indiscriminate airstrikes and shelling, and has caused a humanitarian catastrophe with more than 1.1 million displaced."

In her statement to VOA, Maung said, "We want to see an end to governments and organizations providing support to the illegal Myanmar junta, whether by legitimizing them through invites to meetings and trainings, or financial support through business."

"It's time for the international community to step up and stand with the people of Myanmar by cutting support to the junta and by recognizing the NUG as the legitimate government of Myanmar."

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