Myanmar Military Manufacturing Weapons With Help From Foreign Companies

By The Irrawaddy 17 January 2023

Companies from at least 13 countries in Asia, Europe and North America have helped the Myanmar military manufacture weapons used to commit human rights violations amounting to the most serious crimes under international law, according to the Special Advisory Council-Myanmar (SAC-M), an independent group of former United Nations experts on Myanmar.

SAC-M’s latest report identifies companies domiciled in Austria, France, China, Singapore, India, Israel, Ukraine, Germany, Taiwan, Japan, Russia, South Korea and the United States (US) as having provided raw materials to the Myanmar military for the production of weapons.

Myanmar has been under military rule since the army seized power in a February 1, 2021 coup. Faced with nationwide opposition, the junta has cracked down brutally on civilian protests and armed resistance to the military regime with weapons manufactured with materials provided by the foreign companies named in the report.

Up to now, the regime has killed over 2,700 people, while raiding and torching villages in the country’s anti-junta strongholds in an effort to terrorize the civilian population.

Myanmar’s military has invested heavily over many years in building up its capacity to produce small arms, land mines and light weapons.

As of 2022, the military’s Directorate of Defence Industries (DDI) operates 25 arms manufacturing factories commonly known as KaPaSa in nearly a dozen different locations across the country, according to the SAC-M report.

“In short, weapons produced by the Myanmar military in-country at its KaPaSa factories have been used in the military’s widespread and systematic attacks against civilian targets, prior to, during and after the 2021 attempted military coup, and continue to be so,” stated the SAC-M report.

Since the 2021 coup, the military regime and its arms brokers have been under international sanctions, including from the US Treasury.

In their report SAC-M also identifies companies supplying raw materials, parts and components, end items and high-precision computer numerical control (CNC) machines and associated technology to the DDI for the production of weapons.

Among the companies named, the state-owned Chinese company NORINCO appears to be playing an important role in the DDI’s imports of raw materials for KaPaSa production. The raw materials are being exported to Myanmar by sea via Singapore.

Last year, the DDI also purchased fuses for 84mm recoilless rifles through a Myanmar company, Creative Exploration Ltd, from the India-based Sandeep Metalcraft, an official vendor of India’s Ministry of Defence.

Furthermore, the report said, companies legally domiciled in India and Japan exported raw materials, including iron, copper, aluminium, chromium and high-grade steel, to the DDI, while others in Austria, Germany, Taiwan and the US provided CNC machines for milling and grinding.

The SAC-M report also names front companies, including companies based in Myanmar, and middlemen that enable the DDI to purchase products and services by brokering deals or otherwise acting as intermediaries for the DDI.

One such company, the Myanmar-based Mottama Holdings, acts as an intermediary between the DDI and NORINCO in China, and plays a pivotal role in the DDI’s purchases of high-precision CNC machines for KaPaSa factories.

Chris Sidoti of SAC-M said that countries must investigate and initiate administrative or legal proceedings against companies enabling the DDI to produce weapons used by the Myanmar military in its indiscriminate attacks on civilians.

“Foreign companies that profit from the suffering of the Myanmar people must be held accountable,” he added.