India urged to stop embracing war criminals in Myanmar

India’s air force and state-invested companies are being urged to stop supplying Myanmar’s military with the fuel, equipment and technical assistance it needs to more effectively commit atrocities and war crimes, The Irrawaddy reports.

“The Indian government and its PSUs must stop equipping the Myanmar military with weapons and related materials, which enable its nationwide war of terror,” advocacy group Justice For Myanmar said. PSUs are public sector undertakings, or state-invested companies.

“The fact that a large majority of the identified Indian companies supplying arms and equipment to the junta are public sector undertakings further demonstrates the Indian government’s complicity in the Myanmar military’s atrocity crimes,” Justice For Myanmar said.

“By providing equipment to the Myanmar military, India is directly supporting the junta’s ongoing attacks against civilians and is therefore complicit in its international crimes,” the advocacy group noted.

India is one of the junta’s largest arms suppliers, along with Russia and China, as well as one of its few allies.

Justice For Myanmar appealed for India to stop aiding the junta after its latest investigation found that India continues to equip the junta’s air force and navy as the junta’s war of terror against the people of Myanmar expands. As the junta loses control of more territory, its air force and navy are being used to commit more war crimes in areas it cannot easily reach by ground.

“The junta relies on its air force in particular to wage indiscriminate airstrikes across Myanmar, murdering civilians, including children, and destroying homes, livelihoods, schools and hospitals,” Justice For Myanmar explained.

Justice For Myanmar’s investigation was based on publicly available information, including Indian trade data, corporate disclosures and parliamentary reports.

The investigation identified 10 Indian PSUs that have supplied military equipment, technology and fuel to the Myanmar military since its Feb. 1, 2021 coup or have disclosed attempts to secure business with the junta. Most of these state-invested firms operate under India’s defense ministry.

Justice For Myanmar also found that India’s air force is not shy about supporting Myanmar’s junta. It shipped 52 items to the junta’s air force in January of this year that, according to Justice For Myanmar, appear to be for automatic weather stations that generate data that can be used to time airstrikes and select the type of aircraft and weapons to be used. Fifteen Indian air force personnel were also deployed to Myanmar in December of last year to install meteorological instruments, Justice For Myanmar’s investigation found.

Goa Shipyard Limited signed a contract with the junta for the commissioning of a propulsion plant for 81m offshore patrol vessels for the Myanmar Navy.

“The contract was signed with the Myanmar Naval Dockyard in October 2021, during which India sat as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council negotiating texts concerning increasing violence in Myanmar [following the coup],” Justice For Myanmar said.

Another Indian PSU, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, lists Myanmar as an active client and has exported spare parts for MiGs to the Myanmar military, Justice For Myanmar said. It could not confirm the last date of export but noted that the Myanmar air force uses MiG-29 fighter jets for attacks on civilians.

In January of this year, another PSU operating under India’s defense ministry – Bharat Electronics Limited – shipped several military-end-use items to the Myanmar military’s Directorate of Procurement, the investigation found.

A joint venture between India’s Defense Research and Development Organization and a Russian joint stock company – BrahMos Aerospace Private Limited – announced it is in discussions with the junta to export missiles pending financing.

BrahMos needs to arrange financing from an Indian credit line for the sale of missiles to the junta to proceed, its CEO told Russian state media in August 2022.

Justice For Myanmar’s investigation found that the Indian government is embracing a junta most other democratic countries shun.

The Indian government is providing platforms for members of the Myanmar military junta to attend Indian defense events and receive military training, lending further support and legitimacy to war criminals, Justice For Myanmar said.

It called on India to immediately impose an arms embargo on the Myanmar military junta and cease all training and other military support.

Justice For Myanmar spokesperson Yadanar Maung said: “The Indian government and its PSUs must stop equipping the Myanmar military with weapons and related materials, which enable its nationwide war of terror.”

“Indian PSUs have continued to supply arms, equipment and fuel after the military committed genocide against the Rohingya and launched an illegal coup attempt. This is a serious dereliction of India’s international responsibilities. Governments and companies that are engaged with the Indian government, its PSUs and arms industry should use their leverage to ensure India ends its complicity in the Myanmar junta’s atrocities,” Yadanar Maung added.

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