The European aerospace giant Airbus has sought to distance itself from the planned sale of its planes to the Myanmar Air Force, revealed by activists last week, and promised to respect an arms embargo against the military.
Justice For Myanmar revealed that a Myanmar company called Aero Sofi is helping the military purchase two Airbus CASA C-295s from the Royal Jordanian Air Force for $38.6m.
Under the deal, eight pilots and four mechanics would receive training “at the facility of Airbus-CASA military training services in Seville, Spain” or another location, files obtained by the group said.
Airbus spokesperson Marcella Cortellazzi told Myanmar Now: “Airbus can confirm it has not, and will not, provide any products or services to Myanmar that are prohibited under international embargo and export control regulations.”
But she ignored follow-up questions about activists’ concerns that Airbus wasn’t doing enough to stop its products ending up in the military’s hands via intermediary companies.
Yadanar Maung of Justice For Myanmar said: “Does Airbus have a relationship with Aero Sofi or other intermediaries that procure arms for the Myanmar military? What is Airbus doing to prevent the Myanmar military from having access to Airbus flight simulators for training?”
“How are they preventing spare parts and software from reaching the Myanmar military?” she added.
When Myanmar Now posed those questions to Airbus, Cortellazzi responded with the same one-line statement she had already provided.
“This is an opportunity for Airbus to be a responsible business and fulfil their obligations to ensure they do not contribute to human rights violations in Myanmar, directly or indirectly,” Yadanar Maung said. “The Myanmar military has Airbus aircraft. While Airbus did not sell aircraft directly, they must be transparent and have rigorous safeguards.”
She added: “We call on Airbus to review all their relationships related to Myanmar, disclose their findings and take swift action for human rights.”