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UN expert criticises China, Russia for alleged arms sales to Myanmar

Tom Andrews, a special rapporteur working with the UN human rights office, called on the UN Security Council, where China and Russia are permanent members, to hold an emergency meeting to discuss a possible ban on sales of arms used by Myanmar's military against civilians.

AP Reported by: AP Geneva Published on: February 22, 2022 17:42 IST
Russia, China, United Nations, UN Security Council, Myanmar, arms sales, arms deal, Myanmar militar
Image Source : AP

U.N. special rapporteur on Myanmar, Tom Andrews, addresses a press conference on the human rights situation in Myanmar in Dhaka, Bangladesh, on Dec. 19, 2021. 

Highlights

  • China and Russia criticised for allegedly supplying the weapons to Myanmar
  • Tom Andrews urged countries to halt weapons sales
  • He also called on the UN Security Council to discuss a possible ban on sales of arms

An independent human rights expert working with the United Nations is criticising China and Russia for allegedly supplying weapons used by Myanmar's military against civilians since it seized power last year.

Tom Andrews, a special rapporteur working with the UN human rights office, urged countries to halt such sales. He also called on the UN Security Council, where China and Russia are permanent members, to hold an emergency meeting to discuss a possible ban on sales of arms used by Myanmar's military against civilians.

“The people of Myanmar are imploring the UN to act,” Andrews said in a statement Tuesday. “They deserve an up-or-down vote on a Security Council resolution that will stop the sale of weapons being used to kill them.” The findings come in a new report from Andrews on the types and amounts of weapons used by the military as early as 2018, when it led a bloody crackdown on the Muslim Rohingya minority that caused hundreds of thousands to flee to neighbouring Bangladesh.

Andrews' research described several categories of weapons transfers, with the ones he identified “most problematically” coming from China, Russia and Serbia, because they have been sent since 2018 and continued after the military's takeover last year.

He also cited India for having transferred weapons before the coup, and once afterward, and said three other countries — Belarus, Pakistan and Ukraine -- had sent arms before the military takeover but not afterward. He said Israel and South Korea have sent naval vessels to Myanmar since 2018 that could be used against civilians, but have since committed to no longer sending weapons.

Andrews, a former US congressman, said a resolution passed by the UN General Assembly in June has failed to have “any discernable impact” on the ability of Myanmar's military to attack civilians, who have demonstrated in large numbers against the government despite its deadly suppression of protests. Special rapporteurs work with the UN human rights office in Geneva based on mandates handed out by the UN-backed Human Rights Council, a 47-member body that currently counts both China and Russia as members.

Widespread nonviolent protests in Myanmar followed the military takeover in February last year that ousted the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi. An armed resistance grew after peaceful protests were put down. More than 1,500 civilians have been killed by security forces, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners. 

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