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Atrocity Alert No. 166: Myanmar (Burma), Children and Armed Conflict and Democratic Republic of the Congo

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New UN report exposes financial ties of Myanmar’s military

On Monday, 5 August, the UN Human Rights Council-mandated Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar (FFM) released a report on the vast business empire controlled by Myanmar’s military (Tatmadaw).

The FFM has previously concluded that the military committed crimes against humanity and war crimes in Rakhine, Shan and Kachin states, as well as acts of genocide against the Rohingya minority in Rakhine State. The new report found that the revenues generated by the military provide financial support for its operations “with their wide array of international human rights and humanitarian law violations.” Sexual violence and forced labor have also been perpetrated by the military in connection with its business activities in the mining sector, particularly in Kachin and Shan states.

Senior military figures reportedly solicited more than USD $10 million in donations from at least 45 companies and organizations in support of its genocidal campaign against the Rohingya in Rakhine State during 2017. Some private companies with links to the military are now financing development projects in northern Rakhine State “in furtherance of the Tatmadaw’s objective of re-engineering the region in a way that erases evidence of Rohingya belonging in Myanmar, and preventing their return to access their homeland.” The report also found that 14 foreign companies from seven countries (China, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, India, Israel, Philippines, Russia and Ukraine) have provided arms to Myanmar’s military since 2016, despite the Tatmadaw’s appalling human rights record.

The FFM called upon the UN Security Council, regional organizations and all UN member states to impose a comprehensive arms embargo on Myanmar and targeted sanctions against companies owned by the Tatmadaw. The FFM also advised businesses and investors to “not enter into or remain in a business relationship of any kind with the security forces of Myanmar.” All investment in conflict-affected areas should be conducted in strict adherence with the UN's Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights.

Nearly two years have passed since Myanmar’s security forces initiated so-called "clearance operations" in Rakhine State, resulting in tens of thousands of deaths and the exodus of more than 700,000 Rohingya refugees to Bangladesh. Armed conflict and potential mass atrocity crimes continue in Rakhine, Kachin and Shan states. The UN Security Council should immediately refer the situation in Myanmar to the International Criminal Court and Myanmar should also be taken to the International Court of Justice for breaching its obligations under the Genocide Convention.