‘India is directly supporting the junta’s indiscriminate attacks’
An Indian state-owned arms manufacturer has shipped multiple artillery barrels to Myanmar amid the military’s violent crackdown on dissent, an activist group has said.
Myanmar has been gripped by a bloody civil war since the junta led by general Min Aung Hlaing toppled the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi in a 2021 February coup.
The junta takeover plunged the country into an economic as well as security crisis, derailing decades of progressive reforms and inviting fresh international sanctions.
Arms manufacturer Yantra India Limited allegedly sent 20 gun barrels measuring 122mm to the Southeast Asian country in October last year, according to a report by Justice For Myanmar.
The barrels, valued at $330,000, were shipped to Yangon-based Innovative Industrial Technologies Company Limited, which is owned by the Myanmar military’s arms broker.
The barrels were likely used for howitzers, which are produced in Myanmar by the Office of the Chief of Defence Industries – a unit of the military that has been sanctioned by Western powers, the group said.
Yantra India Limited is an official public sector undertaking operating under India’s defence ministry and has “state-of-the-art steel-making” facilities for gun barrels and “other components of artillery and tank guns”, according to its website.
“India is directly supporting the junta’s indiscriminate attacks against civilians by allowing the export of barrels that that the junta will use in its continued gross violations of international law,” Justice for Myanmar spokesperson Yadanar Maung said in a statement.
The group urged members of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (the Quad) to use their “influence” to stop the arms flow from India to Myanmar. Aside from India, the other members of the Quad are Australia, Japan and the US.
General Hlaing earlier in January thanked Myanmar’s neighbouring countries, including India, for “positively cooperating with us”.
In December 2022, New Delhi abstained from the UN Security Council’s first resolution on the Myanmar crisis, which called for the release of “arbitrarily detained” prisoners, including Ms Suu Kyi.
A separate report by two other rights groups found that the junta continues to secure supplies of aviation fuel despite being widely accused of conducting indiscriminate air raids that have killed civilians.
The joint investigation by Amnesty International and Global Witness found that one shipment involved an oil tanker “Prime V” which sailed from Sikka in India on 28 November last year.
The ship offloaded Jet A-1 grade aviation fuel at the former Puma Energy Aviation Sun Co Ltd (PEAS) terminal in the port of Thilawa in Myanmar on or around 10 December.
One of the companies involved in the transaction was India’s Reliance Industries Lt, which owns the terminal from which the ship departed.
Other companies involved were Sea Trade Marine – the Greek company that is the beneficial owner of Prime V, and Japan P&I Club, which provided protection and indemnity insurance.
Indian foreign minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar has previously defended New Delhi’s ties with the junta, saying India cannot avoid dealing with its neighbour because of cross-border issues.
“Since the military’s coup in 2021, it has brutally suppressed its critics and attacked civilians from the ground and the air. Supplies of aviation fuel reaching the military enable these war crimes,” said Montse Ferrer from Amnesty International.
“These shipments must stop now.”
Amnesty said it had attempted to contact all of the companies identified as being involved in the Prime V shipment but only Japan P&I Club responded, saying that it complied with applicable sanctions at the time. It added that its insurance cover may be terminated if a vessel is involved in illegal activity. There is no suggestion that Prime V broke applicable laws in this delivery, the report said.
The Independent reached out to Yantra India Limited, Reliance Industries Lt and Sea Trade Marine for their responses to the allegations. None had responded at the time of publication.
Source : Independent