Bangkok, Jan 31 (EFE).- Amnesty International on Wednesday denounced that despite international sanctions, the Myanmar military continues to import aviation fuel that enables “deadly air strikes” against civilians.
The rights group said that in 2023, the military received at least 67 kilotons of aviation fuel in seven shipments from a Vietnamese port, involving companies from China, Malaysia, and Singapore.
Amnesty added that after the sanctions, buyers in Myanmar are no longer purchasing fuel directly but are relying on multiple intermediaries to distance themselves from the original supplier of the aviation fuel.
“After the international community took action on this deadly supply chain, the Myanmar military is ripping a page out of the sanctions evasion playbook to continue importing jet fuel,” Amnesty’s Deputy Regional Director for Research, Montse Ferrer, said in a statement.
“Air strikes have killed or injured hundreds of civilians across Myanmar in 2023, and left many feeling nowhere is safe. The best way to stop the Myanmar military from carrying out lethal air strikes is to stop all jet fuel imports into the country,” she added.
The NGO noted that in the first months of 2023, sanctions imposed by the United Kingdom, the United States, the European Union, and others made shipments to Myanmar difficult, but later the junta found more indirect ways to receive aviation fuel and avoid the sanctions.
According to Amnesty, the fuel companies involved include Hai Linh in Vietnam, Royal Vopak in Malaysia, BB Energy in Singapore, and China’s National Offshore Oil Corporation.
“It is unclear whether the trading companies knew the fuel they were selling to Vietnamese companies would soon thereafter end up in Myanmar, or whether their actions could run afoul of existing sanctions,” Amnesty said.
Separately, Human Rights Watch also criticized that the sanctions imposed by the European Union, the United Kingdom, and the United States on Myanmar jet fuel “have been inconsistent.”
“Canada is the only country to have imposed comprehensive sanctions on the export, sale, supply or shipment of aviation fuel to Myanmar,” HRW said.
HRW urged the United Nations to impose an arms embargo on Myanmar, including sanctions on jet fuel that “facilitate unlawful air attacks on civilians.”
One of the deadliest junta attacks occurred in April last year when the military’s air force bombed an opposition gathering in Sagaing, killing 100 people, including 35 children.
According to a recent UN report, the number of civilians reportedly killed by the military rose to over 1,600 in 2023, an increase of some 300 from the previous year.
The 2021 military coup, which ended a decade of democratic transition in the country, plunged Myanmar into a deep political, social and economic crisis.It has also triggered a spiral of violence, particularly with the emergence of new pro-democracy forces joining hands with ethnic minority militias, exacerbating the country’s decades-long ethnic conflicts. EFE