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Myanmar junta using civilian jet fuel for attacks — report

November 3, 2022

Human rights watchdog Amnesty International has urged foreign fuel suppliers to end shipments to Myanmar. The ruling military junta has cracked down on dissent and waged a brutal air campaign against rebel groups.

Myanmar military fighter jets take part in armed forces parade
Myanmar's military has ruled the country with an iron fist, with air strikes often targeting civilian infrastructure such as schools and monasteriesImage: U Aung/Xinhua/picture alliance

Human rights watchdog Amnesty International said Thursday in a new report that fuel supplies intended for civilian planes in Myanmar are being diverted to the country's ruling military junta, which then uses it to bombard civilians.

The report revealed that both civilian and military planes were often provided jet fuel from the same storage facilites. Some foreign fuel shipments were also delivered directly to the junta.   

What were the the findings in the report?

The report, titled "Deadly Cargo: Exposing the Supply Chain that Fuels War Crimes in Myanmar," was put together with activist group Justice for Myanmar. Leaked company documents, satellite imagery and exclusive interviews by Amnesty were some of the sources used to collect the findings.  

The investigators monitored eight shipments of air fuel which arrived at the Thilawa Port near the commercial city of Yangon between February 2021 and September 2022. 

Singapore-headquartered Puma Energy handled and distributed the shipments. One of Puma's Myanmar affiliates also faciliated the transfer of the foreign jet fuel to a military storage facility. Amnesty said those supplies were later used to launch air strikes. 

Puma announced in October that it would leave Myanmar, but it has not yet given an exit date. The company claims it has not sold any fuel to the junta since it took power last year and had controls in place to prevent such sales. However, it admitted that in some instances the air force had managed to breach the controls. 

Amnesty noted that Singapore Petroleum Company, Rosneft, Chevron and Thai Oil are among the foreign jet fuel suppliers to Myanmar. 

These companies said they believed they "had provided aviation fuel for civlian purposes only. A few stated that they conducted diligence to ensure that their respective customers were not on any sanctions list."

Amnesty said Bangkok-based Thai Oil and Norwegian maritime firm Wilhelmsen have ended all business involving aviation fuel in Myanmar following the watchdog's investigation.

Andrews: Action is required

Dozens reportedly killed by junta air strikes last month

The Amnesty report follows deadly air strikes that allegedly killed some 80 people in the northern state of Kachin last month. The strikes targeted a concert held by the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) rebel group.   

"These air strikes have devastated families, terrorized civilians, killed and maimed victims. But if the planes can't fuel up, they can't fly out and wreak havoc. Today we are calling on suppliers, shipping agents, vessel owners and maritime insurers to withdraw from a supply chain that is benefiting the Myanmar Air Force," Amnesty International Secretary General Agnes Callamard said in a statement. 

Callamard said there is "no justification" for suppliers to continue giving aviation fuel to the Myanmar junta. 

The junta has cracked down on dissent after it ousted the country's civilian leadership in February 2021. The military has jailed deposed State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, and the US, UK, EU and other world powers have imposed sanctions in response. 

wd/nm (AP, AFP)

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