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Foreign banks funding military access to weapons; Experts tell UN and ASEAN to adapt to new reality

Foreign banks funding military access to weapons

The U.N. Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Burma Tom Andrews identified 16 banks in seven countries that have processed transactions linked to military weapons purchases. His new report also documents how the military has circumvented sanctions against it over the last two years.

“International banks that facilitate transactions that include Myanmar state-owned banks are at high risk of enabling military attacks on Myanmar civilians. I urge them to stop doing so. Banks have a fundamental obligation to not facilitate crimes – and this includes war crimes and crimes against humanity,” said Andrews.

He added that an additional 25 banks provided services to banks under military control. Thai banks, including Siam Commercial Bank, facilitated over $100 million USD in transactions related to the military since March 2023, states Andrews’ report: Banking on the Death Trade: How Banks and Governments Enable the Military Junta in Myanmar.

China involved in regime’s internet surveillance 

Justice For Myanmar (JFM) revealed documents indicating that the regime has begun using a new internet surveillance and censorship system developed by Chinese company Geedge Networks to block Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) and to surveil the internet in Burma.

“This new Chinese technology will further aid and abet the junta’s crimes against humanity as it seeks to track down those who oppose the military’s illegitimate coup attempt,” said Yadanar Maung, the JFM spokesperson.

Since 2021, circumvention tools have been used to access Facebook. On May 30 netizens reported that Naypyidaw began to restrict VPNs. Those caught with one on their phones have been told by police and soldiers to pay a fine or face imprisonment. Phone searches at checkpoints have increased nationwide, according to motorists.

Yanghee Lee, the former UN Special rapporteur on human rights in Burma and founding member of SAC-M. (Credit: Thomson Reuters Foundation)

Experts tell UN and ASEAN to adapt to new reality 

The Special Advisory Council for Myanmar (SAC-M) called on the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the U.N. Human Rights Council to address the “new realities” in Burma on June 21. 

It urged ASEAN to find innovative methods to enhance its Five-Point Consensus by engaging with the National Unity Government (NUG), Ethnic Resistance Organizations (EROs), and civil society groups. The U.N. was told to ensure that its forthcoming resolution addresses the rights of the Rohingya and other ethnic nationalities.

On June 13, it called on the U.S. and U.N. member states to provide “material and political support” to the numerous resistance groups in the country. SAC-M is an independent advisory group of international experts on Burma founded by Yanghee Lee, Chris Sidoti and Marzuki Darusman. 

News by Region

AYEYARWADY—Farmers are reducing their crop production by more than half due to rising agricultural expenses. Farmers in the region grow rice, maize, groundnut, sesame, sunflower, pigeon pea, chili and vegetables during the monsoon season. 

“The fuel prices have continued to surge. A bag of fertilizer used to cost 30,000 kyat [$9 USD] but now it’s at 140,000 kyat [$43USD]. So, we decided to reduce production,” said a Thabaung Township farmer.    

MAGWAY—A People’s Defense Force (PDF) called the Yaw Revolution Army, based in Htilin Township, claimed that five men aged 22 to 40 who had been detained since October and allegedly tortured at a township administration office joined them on Tuesday. 

“They escaped Monday,” said a PDF spokesperson. The five men have been receiving medical treatment for broken jaws and have been unable to eat. The PDF stated that the men will soon return to their families.

SHAN—A rescue group reported that it has recovered at least 21 bodies of people killed by artillery and airstrikes in Kyaukme Township, located in northern Shan State, on Thursday. “Many civilians were injured. Charity groups and funeral services helped to collect injured civilians and dead bodies,” said a rescue group member. 

Seventeen military personnel based at the Military Operations Command (MOC-1) surrendered to the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) on Wednesday. Sources told DVB that 10 administrative offices, an artillery unit, and a hospital, were seized by the TNLA. Fighting between it and the military resumed in Kyaukme, Nawnghkio and Mogok townships on Tuesday.

NAYPYIDAW—The Directorate of Investment and Company Administration (DICA) blacklisted eight edible oil companies on June 24. It has accused Winner Brothers, Diamond Dragon, First Top Edible Oil, Ayeyar Hinthar Trading Company Limited, Thein Than Yadanar, Jewel Arrow, Agri One Trading and Grand Unity of alleged fraud. 

DICA didn’t state the specific violations committed by these eight companies, or under which legal provisions they would be prosecuted. The regime declared that practices such as price gouging, unauthorized selling, and hoarding of edible oil for market speculation will be prosecuted under the law.

A funeral was held for Sayadaw Bhaddanta Munindabhivamsa, a monk killed by regime troops on June 19 in Mandalay, at his monastery in Bago Region on Thursday. (Credit: Win Nein Mi Tar Yon Monastery)


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