A new United Nations report titled “The Billion Dollar Death Trade” reveals that the Myanmar military has imported $1 billion worth of weapons since seizing power in a coup last year and used them to commit atrocities against civilians.

The report states that at least $1 billion worth of weapons, dual-use technology, and materials used to manufacture weapons were brought in by the junta from suppliers in Russia, China, Singapore, India, and Thailand.

The report also highlights that these imports have easily circumvented international sanctions prohibiting arms trade with Myanmar and calls on member states to step up and stop the flow of these arms.

  • The Myanmar military has imported $1 billion worth of weapons since the 2021 coup and used them to commit atrocities against civilians.
  • While Russia and China continue to be the main suppliers of advanced weapons systems to the Myanmar military, arms dealers operating out of Singapore are critical to the continued operation of the Myanmar military’s deadly weapons factories.
  • The UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Myanmar has called for member states to step up and stop the flow of these arms, and for Myanma Foreign Trade Bank to be a prime target for international sanctions.

UN Member States are enabling this trade either through outright complicity, lax enforcement of existing bans, and easily circumvented sanctions, according to the report. 

“Despite overwhelming evidence of the Myanmar military’s atrocity crimes against the people of Myanmar, the generals continue to have access to advanced weapons systems, spare parts for fighter jets, raw materials and manufacturing equipment for domestic weapons production.”

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

 Andrews said. “Those providing these weapons are able to avoid sanctions by using front companies and creating new ones while counting on lax enforcement.   

“The good news is that we now know who is supplying these arms and the jurisdictions in which they operate. Member States now need to step up and stop the flow of these arms,” the expert said.

While calling for a complete ban on the sale or transfer of weapons to the Myanmar military, Andrews pleaded for Member States to enforce existing bans while coordinating sanctions on arms dealers and foreign currency sources.

The Special Rapporteur’s paper, The Billion Dollar Death Trade:  International Arms Networks that Enable Human Rights Violations in Myanmar is the most detailed study on post-coup arms transfers to the military to date. Accompanied by a detailed infographic, it identifies the major networks and companies involved in these transactions, known values of the transfers, and jurisdictions in which the networks operate, namely Russia, China, Singapore, Thailand, and India. 

“Russia and China continue to be the main suppliers of advanced weapons systems to the Myanmar military, accounting for over $400 million and $260 million respectively since the coup, with much of the trade originating from state-owned entities.

However, arms dealers operating out of Singapore are critical to the continued operation of the Myanmar military’s deadly weapons factories (commonly referred to as KaPaSa),” Andrews said.

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