UN: Seven Countries Selling Arms to Myanmar Military Despite Rohingya Genocide
“Israel, in particular, allowed the transfer of arms covered by the ATT (Arms Trade Treaty) at a time when it had knowledge, or ought to have had knowledge, that they would be used in the commission of serious crimes under international law.”
A United Nations fact-finding mission called for an arms embargo following its report that many foreign companies have supplied arms used in Myanmar’s brutal military operation against Rohingya Muslims, dubbed the world’s most prosecuted minority.
The report’s finding identified 15 foreign companies from Ukraine, Russia, India, the Philippines, North Korea and China partnering with the country’s military conglomeration groups, Myanmar Economic Holdings Limited (MEHL) and Myanmar Economic Corporation (MEC), as well as 44 other firms with business connections to the Myanmar army, known as Tatmadaw.
One of the countries also exporting arms to Myanmar is Israel. In April 2017, Israel’s state-owned defense company Aerospace Industries agreed to sell four Super-Dvora Mk III multi-mission patrol and attack ships, the report revealed. Israel’s private firm TAR Ideal Concepts was mentioned in the document.
Israel also allows sales of arms covered in the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) when it knows that those weapons would be used in serious crimes under international laws. The report stated: “Israel, in particular, allowed the transfer of arms covered by the ATT (Arms Trade Treaty) at a time when it had knowledge, or ought to have had knowledge, that they would be used in the commission of serious crimes under international law.”
The U.N. stressed that weapons export is a breach of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). North Korea, Israel, Russia and Ukraine are all state parties, while China is one of the signatories.
“In addition to isolating the Tatmadaw financially, we have to promote economic ties with non-Tatmadaw companies and businesses in Myanmar,” said the mission’s chairman Marzuki Darusman in a news conference in Jakarta.
Myanmar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs slammed the 111-page report, saying that the U.N. had overstepped its authority.
The fact-finding team was established following a crackdown that forced around 700,000 Rohingya Muslims to seek refuge in Bangladesh in 2017. Myanmar never granted the ethnic group citizenship, considering them illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.
Israel’s Arms Sales To Human Rights-Violating Countries
Last May, a report from Amnesty’s Israel chapter provided detailed evidence on Israel’s weapons sales to countries known as human rights violators such as South Sudan, Myanmar, Mexico and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in the past 20 years, as Haaretz reported.
Ironically, some of those countries were under arms export embargos, yet Israeli continued to export to them. South Sudan, for example, is still under a U.N. Security Council-backed arms sales ban due to ethnic cleansing, war crimes and rapes used as a method of war.
In 2018, a report from the U.S. Department of Treasury revealed that retired Israeli general Israel Ziv sold $150 million in weapons to South Sudan using an agriculture company, FinalCall reported. The investigation by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) showed that the former general covered his act behind an oil company called Trafigura.
Israel’s arms sales to Myanmar is still ongoing despite the international ban on the Southeast Asian country. According to Israel’s Defense Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, his side cannot stop the sale of weapons as it complies with the existing agreement.
Israeli humanitarian activist Ofer Neiman says Israel’s diplomatic ties with Myanmar flourished following the visit of Myanmar’s Army Chief, Ming Aung Hlaing to Israel to shop for weapons in September 2015.
Myanmar’s military representative attended Israel’s biggest defense expo last June, as Israel’s independent media +972 magazine reported. Israel should have stopped supplying arms to Myanmar in 2017 following a petition submitted to Israel’s Supreme Court. However, the court has barred access to the documents disclosing what types of arms have been sold to Myanmar.
“Israeli courts have blocked access to documents that could shed light on what arms have gone to Myanmar,” Jonathan Cook wrote in 2017 for Aljazeera.
Israel Uses Foreign Countries As Its Weapons ‘Testing-Grounds’
Neiman stated that Israel often sells weapons to other despotic regimes throughout the world to test them before using them to target Palestinians. In the past, Israel supplied weapons to South Africa’s apartheid regime and Serbia during the civil war that killed Bosnians in the 1990s.
“This policy is strongly related to Israel’s oppression and dispossession of the Palestinian people. Weapons used against the Palestinians are being sold as ‘field-tested’ to some of the worst regimes on the planet,” Neiman told MiddleEast Eye.
Israel is a signatory to the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) which regulates the trade of conventional weapons. However, the cabinet never ratified it.
“The absence of monitoring and transparency have for decades let Israel supply equipment and defense-related knowledge to questionable states and dictatorial or unstable regimes that have been shunned by the international community,” the Amnesty report said.