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Report names dozens of Singapore firms involved in arms supply to Myanmar military

Justice for Myanmar says 38 companies in Singapore are linked to 78 Myanmar-based companies brokering for the military.

Our Regional Correspondent
3 minute read
Military personnel participate in a parade on Armed Forces Day in Naypyitaw, Myanmar, March 27, 2021. Photo: Reuters
Military personnel participate in a parade on Armed Forces Day in Naypyitaw, Myanmar, March 27, 2021. Photo: Reuters

Singapore companies have been involved in the business of supplying weapons to the Myanmar military even as the junta carries out its genocidal campaign against the Rohingya as well as its violent crushing of democratic activism since the coup last year, a new detailed report released by an organisation detailing atrocities in the Asean nation has revealed.

Justice for Myanmar (JFM) said it had identified 116 companies which brokered the supply of millions of dollars worth of weapons and other equipment to the Myanmar military, including since the coup d'etat of February 2021 that toppled the democratically elected government.

It said 27 of them had been involved since 2017, the year when the junta undertook a systematic campaign against the Rohingya where villages were burnt, triggering one of the biggest refugee crises in the world.

"They have been complicit in the military’s atrocious crimes and must be prevented from pursuing further business with the military," said JFM, which has in the past exposed governments and businesses in Southeast Asia which it said "financed the Rohingya genocide and the junta’s current campaign of terror against the Myanmar people".

It its detailed findings which it said were based on information leaked from official procurement documents, JFM said 38 companies in Singapore were linked to 78 Myanmar-based companies brokering for the military, adding that this was further proof of the city-state's "complicity in the junta’s international crimes".

"Singapore has long been a known financial and trade hub for the Myanmar military junta and this poses an imminent threat to the lives of millions of Myanmar people. As a member of Asean, Singapore has an important role to play in resolving the Myanmar crisis," it said.

The United Nations and global rights groups have accused Myanmar's military of systematic ethnic cleansing campaigns targeted at minority groups, especially the Rohingya  community.

Since 2017, more than a million Rohingya refugees have fled to Bangladesh and other Asean nations, resulting in one of the biggest refugee crises in the world. Tens of thousands of Rohingya were also estimated to have been killed as the army took part in a campaign of violence by extremist groups to drive out the Muslim minority.

Since last year's coup which restored army generals to political power, air strikes and a systematic destruction of villages have led to the displacement of more than 800,000 people, according to JFM.

Last month, Washington criticised Asean governments for failing to take a harder stand in response to the situation in Myanmar, saying its approach to dialogue had not worked as repression continued.

"I think it’s unfortunately safe to say that we’ve seen no positive movement. On the contrary, we continue to see the repression of the Burmese people who continue to see violence perpetrated by the regime," US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said during his recent visit to Thailand.

In its latest report, JFM divided the companies involved in arms trade with the junta into three categories: whose who have had business with the Myanmar military since the 2021 coup; those involved following the Rohingya genocide from 2017 or later; and those who conducted business from 2015 to 2016.

Many of the companies named by the group also had links to Israel, Russia, Belarus and Germany.

It said one of them, Singapore-based Venture Sky International Ltd, had directly supplied aircraft spare parts to the Myanmar military.

"The company had at least 12 contracts with the Myanmar Air Force to provide aircraft spare parts in 2016 alone.  

"Notably, this is the same year the company was established, indicating that the company was likely to have been set up as an intermediary for the Myanmar military amid the sanctions that were in place at the time," it added.