Myanmar Military Invited to Weapons Expo in Bangkok

By The Irrawaddy 29 August 2022

The Myanmar military has been invited to an arms fair, defense and security related seminars and technical presentations officially supported by neighboring Thailand’s Ministry of Defense.

Since last year’s coup, the military has been internationally denounced and its leadership sanctioned for their atrocities against Myanmar civilians, who have overwhelmingly rejected military rule in the country. So far it has killed more than 2,000 people. The junta has ignored the UN’s recent plea not to launch airstrikes and raids in civilian areas.

Touted as a “one-stop platform for Asian defense procurement”, the four-day Tri-Service Asian Defense & Security Exhibition, Conference and Networking Event (Defense & Security 2022) in Bangkok will be joined by “high-ranking officials from defense ministries and departments, the Army, the Navy and the Air Force,” including from Myanmar, according to the event’s website.

The event, an international military and civil indoor/outdoor exhibition covering land, air and sea military equipment, defense technology and internal security, started Monday.

The conference website lists among the participants the ASEAN Defense Industry Collaboration, an ASEAN program that includes the Myanmar military.

Other invitees include Australia, Canada, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Japan, Poland, South Korea and Spain, all of which have placed arms embargoes on Myanmar. The US has a “partnership pavilion” at the event.

On Monday, Justice for Myanmar (JFM), a group of covert activists campaigning for justice and accountability for the people of Myanmar, said the event is organized by a joint venture of the London Stock Exchange-listed company Informa Plc.

JFM demanded Informa ban the Myanmar junta from all of its events, saying, “We condemn Informa’s involvement in arms fairs that support the Myanmar military’s procurement of arms and equipment for use against the people.”

Informa is the parent company of academic publishing giant Taylor & Francis Group and its subsidiary, Routledge.

Min Aung Hlaing at the Myanmar military booth at the Defense & Security 2019 expo in November 2019 / Senior General Min Aung Hlaing website

Myanmar regime leader Min Aung Hlaing personally attended the event in 2019, when the Myanmar military had a booth at the exhibition. During the visit, he met with a delegation led by Russian Deputy Minister of Defense Colonel General Alexander Fomin.

At the 2019 event, Min Aung Haling also met Chief of Defense Forces of the Royal Thai Armed Forces General Ponpipaat Benyasri, together with the military chiefs of Cambodia, Malaysia and Brunei.