Indian arms company selling military technology to Myanmar junta

An arms manufacturer majority-owned by the Indian state has supplied at least seven shipments of military technology to Myanmar’s coup regime for coastal surveillance, according to a report by activist group Justice for Myanmar (JFM). 

A report released by JFM on Monday exposed the sale of radar supplies and communication equipment by Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) to the Myanmar regime, whose armed forces have killed more than 860 civilians since the February 1 coup. 

“The Indian government is awarding legitimacy to the junta through BEL’s business in Myanmar, enabling the junta’s nationwide campaign of terror against the people of Myanmar,” JFM spokesperson Yadanar Maung said in a statement accompanying the report.  

Citing export data, JFM alleged that the company—in which India’s government holds the majority of shares—exported a range of surveillance technology to the Myanmar military. The items included electro-optic systems, radar video extractor receivers, VHF communications systems, graphics processors, workstation hardware, server storage, and batteries, JFM reported. 

(Infographics: Justice for Myanmar)

JFM said the shipments took place between February 27 and March 29 and originated in facilities in Jaipur and Bangalore, where BEL manufactures military communications technology and weaponry, JFM reported. There were other exports to Myanmar prior to the coup, in January this year and in December 2020, the details of which were vaguely described as “spares for the control centre” and more than 12,000 items listed as “installation materials.”

The company categorised the deal with the Myanmar military as one of its “major orders” in its annual report last year, according to JFM.

One of BEL’s six overseas branches includes a representative office in Yangon, which the JFM said raises “grave concerns over the company’s enabling of the criminal military junta.”

Myanmar’s coast guard was established under its navy in 2019, with its initial coastal surveillance system provided as part of an agreement signed with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a September 2017 visit to the country. The trip occurred during the height of a genocidal Myanmar military campaign against the Rohingya minority.

JFM said in its report that BEL maintains business agreements with Israeli companies Israel Aerospace Industries and Elbit Systems, and with European companies such as Italy’s Beretta and Elettronica, Sweden’s Saab, Denmark’s Terma, and the French-Dutch company Thales. 

(Infographics: Justice for Myanmar)

European companies are subject to an EU arms embargo on Myanmar, which would include military surveillance technology. Myanmar’s coastal surveillance system could rely on technology linked to Terma, which provides radars to BEL, or to Thales, which has sold radars to Myanmar, JFM stated. Myanmar Now was unable to independently verify this information. 

In addition to the Indian government, BEL’s biggest international shareholders include the United States’ Goldman Sachs, Franklin Templeton, the Vanguard Group and Dimensional Fund Advisors, Japan’s Nippon Life Insurance, South Korea’s Mirae Asset Financial Group, Norway’s Norges Bank Investment Management, United Kingdom’s Ninety One, and the France’s BNP Paribas.

Yadanar Maung urged BEL’s international partners, their governments, and shareholders to “step up and take a clear moral stance” to end the Indian company’s engagement with the Myanmar military regime.

“BEL’s despicable conduct, putting profits above Myanmar people’s lives, shows why there must be a global arms embargo now,” said Yadanar Maung.


Related Articles

Back to top button