More than 200 rights and civil society organizations including Justice for Myanmar (JFM) have jointly called on Singapore’s government to take concrete action to block the Myanmar junta’s access to arms, dual-use goods, technology and funds, according to JFM on Tuesday.
The move is in response to the island-state’s role as a major procurer of spare parts, raw materials, and manufacturing equipment for the Myanmar military’s weapons factories since the coup.
UN Special Rapporteur Tom Andrews said in his report “Death Trade”, released in mid-May, that at least 138 Singapore-based firms have served as intermediaries in shipping US$ 254 million worth of arms and related goods to the military junta between February 2021 and December 2023.
Also, Singapore banks have been used extensively by arms dealers operating within and outside the city-state.
In their open letter to Singapore’s Foreign Affairs Minister Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, the civil society groups asked the Singapore government to expedite and publicize investigations into firms involved in and enabling the transfer of arms and dual-use goods, as well as technology transferred, transited, shipped and brokered through Singapore to the Myanmar military.
The island government is also urged to introduce sanctions to prevent the direct and indirect transfer of arms, related materials and technology to the junta.
The civil society organizations (CSOs) also urged targeted sanctions to block the junta’s access to Singapore’s financial system.
Their letter pointed out that while Singapore continues to call for the immediate cessation of violence under ASEAN’s peace plan, the involvement of Singapore-based businesses and financial systems in transferring weapons and dual-use goods to the military regime directly undermines ASEAN’s credibility.
“We CSOs strongly urge you to set a precedent for the region by taking robust and tangible actions to stop Singapore businesses and financial institutions from enabling and being complicit in the junta’s ongoing atrocities,” read the letter to the foreign minister.
Speaking at a UN meeting on May 17, Special Rapporteur Andrews said: “If the Singapore government were to stop all shipments and facilitation of arms and associated materials to the Myanmar military from its jurisdiction, the impact on the junta’s ability to commit war crimes would be significantly disrupted.”
In the face of daily resistance attacks, the military regime has continued to commit atrocities across the country. These include arbitrary killings of civilian and resistance members, using civilian detainees as human shields, burning people alive, looting and torching houses, shelling and airstrikes against civilian targets, and acts of sexual violence.
As of August 23, around 4,000 people had been killed by the junta while another 24,410 people including elected government leaders have been arrested or detained since the coup, said the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, which monitors arrests and deaths.
Fellow independent research group Data for Myanmar said the military junta and its affiliated militia had burned down approximately 74,874 civilian houses and infrastructure during anti-resistance operations across the country as of July 31.