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Human Rights Expert: Myanmar Junta Using Weapons from Russia and China Against Civilians

FILE - Members of the People's Defense Forces (PDF) who have taken up arms against Myanmar's military junta are seen on a front line in Kawkareik, Myanmar, Dec. 31, 2021.

An independent United Nations human rights expert says Russia and China have been supplying Myanmar’s military junta with weapons that have been used against civilians.

Tom Andrews, the U.N.’s special rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar, issued a detailed report Tuesday on the types of weapons the two nations have been selling to the junta since 2018, including fighter jets, armored vehicles, ballistic missile systems and mobile defense systems. The report said this was done “with the full knowledge they would likely be used in attacks against civilians.”

The report also singled out Serbia for authorizing the transfer of rockets and artillery to Myanmar’s military.

There has been no immediate comment from China, Myanmar, Russia or Serbia.

China and Russia are permanent members of the U.N. Security Council.

Andrews’ report also identifies several nations, including Belarus, Ukraine, Pakistan, South Korea and Israel, saying they have supplied Myanmar’s military with weapons since 2018, even after it launched a crackdown on ethnic Muslim Rohingya minority members in western Rakhine state. The crackdown drove more than 700,000 Rohingya across the border into Bangladesh.

Myanmar’s military seized power on February 1, 2021, detaining Aung San Suu Kyi, the de facto head of the civilian government, and other high-ranking officials, claiming widespread fraud in the general election the previous November. Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy won the vote in a landslide over the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party.

China has in the past described the coup as a “Cabinet reshuffle,” with Russia calling it a “purely domestic affair.” Both used their influence on the Security Council to water.

In a written statement, Andrews, a former U.S. congressman, appeared to criticize the U.N. Security Council for failing to vote on a resolution passed last June by the U.N. General Assembly calling on member states to prevent the flow of arms into Myanmar.

Andrews said the transfers of weapons to Myanmar to kill civilians “truly shock the conscience,” and called on the Security Council to hold an emergency meeting to debate and vote on a resolution to ban the transfers.

“The more the world delays, the more innocent people, including children, will die in Myanmar,” he said.

In November, the Security Council put out a statement calling for a cessation of violence in Myanmar.

An independent Thailand-based activist group, the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, says at least 1,560 people have been killed in violent protests against the military regime since last February’s coup.

Some information for this report came from the Associated Press and Reuters.