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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2552

EU and U.S. Companies give Military Hardware to Burma Ignoring Arms Embargo to Human Rights Violating Regime

Daya Gamage – US Bureau Asian Tribune

Washington, D.C. 16 July (Asiantribune.com): Britain, which recently reduced aid to Sri Lanka, a South Asian nation which is battling a home-grown terrorist movement to safeguard her territorial integrity, sovereignty and the democratic system, citing human rights violations is being accused of contemplating transferring combat military hardware to Myanmar (Burma) a country governed by a military regime which has a widely documented record of serious human rights violations.

Germany, another European Union (EU) nation which has recently made public pronouncements of human rights situation in Sri Lanka, has joined Belgium, France, Italy and Sweden to provide military hardware to the Burmese regime which has been condemned in the United Nations having the worst human rights record.

A report released by the Amnesty International and other NGOs highlights the involvement of two US companies that have either started production or delivery of equipment for Advanced Light Helicopters (ALH) for Myanmar.

Sri Lanka’s neighbor India is in the forefront in supplying the ALH with technology from EU countries and US companies.

While the U.S. government does put export restrictions on some types of dual-use goods (civilian and military), it is unclear whether similar U.S.restrictions apply to the above technologies, the report notes.

The proposed transfer to Myanmar (Burma) of a military helicopter containing components and technology from as many as six European Union countries threatens to undermine an EU arms embargo on Myanmar, according to a new report issued July 15.

Mi>'Indian Helicopters for Myanmar: Making a Mockery of the EU Arms Embargo?,' a report by European and international NGOs, including Amnesty International and Saferworld, cites credible sources who say that the Indian government is planning to transfer the Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) to Myanmar. It reveals how the Indian-manufactured helicopter would
not be operational without vital components from EU Member States and highlights the urgent need for stricter EU arms controls.

Should this transfer go ahead, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Sweden and the United Kingdom could be undermining an EU arms embargo on Myanmar in place since 1988.

Variants of the ALH attack helicopter contain rocket launchers from Belgium; rockets, guns and engines from France; brake systems from Italy; fuel tanks and gearboxes from the UK and self-protection equipment from a Swedish company. German companies have been crucial to the design development of the ALH.

Myanmar has a widely-documented record of serious human rights violations, which the United Nations has described as widespread and systematic. Such abuses include summary executions, torture, and the recruitment of child soldiers.

Amnesty International's arms control researcher Helen Hughes said:

"Greater attention has to be given to the end-use agreements and the re-export of components from EU member states. Otherwise, these states could find themselves indirectly propping up a brutal regime which they themselves have condemned and whose violations have amounted to crimes against humanity."

The report calls on the EU to initiate immediate consultations with the Indian government. If India plans to supply or has indeed already supplied ALHs to Myanmar, EU member states should:

-- withdraw all existing export license authorizations and refuse any new applications for any transfers of components or technology that could be used for the ALH;

-- discontinue all future production co-operations with India that might lead to transfers of embargoed equipment to Myanmar;

-- attach to all future licenses for transfers of controlled goods and technology to India a strict and enforceable condition prohibiting re-export to states under embargo.

In addition to improving national and EU practice, EU member states should give their full support to current efforts to develop an international Arms Trade Treaty, establishing globally-binding rules on arms transfers in accordance with international law and human rights standards the report further states.

The report also highlights the involvement of two U.S. companies that have either started production or delivery of equipment for ALH. These two companies are Aitech Systems Ltd. and Lord Corporation. According to Aitech Systems, they will build 400 Display and Mission computers for the ALH. The first deliveries of these computers were expected to begin in May 2006.

In January 2004, it was reported that Lord Corporation had announced that it had been awarded the first production contract for its active vibration control system for ALH. This system helps reduce vibrations in the aircraft.

While the U.S. government does put export restrictions on some types of dual-use goods (civilian and military), it is unclear whether similar U.S. restrictions apply to the above technologies.

Currently, India does not have existing restrictions on transferring these weapons to Myanmar.

- Asian Tribune -

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