According to a report by activist group Justice for Myanmar (JFM), an arms manufacturer majority-owned by India has been supplying military technology to Myanmar’s coup regime for coastal surveillance. Reportedly, at least seven shipments of military tech have been made till now.
The JFM released a report on Monday, exposing Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) of selling radar supplies and communication equipment to the armed forces of the Myanmar regime, who have killed more than 860 civilians since the coup in February.
Justice for Myanmar spokesperson Yadanar Maung, in a statement accompanying the report, said 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.
The JFM cited export data and alleged that the company, in which India’s government holds the majority of shares, exported a range of surveillance technology to the Myanmar military.
According to the JFM report, the shipped items included electro-optic systems, radar video extractor receivers, VHF communications systems, graphics processors, workstation hardware, server storage, and batteries.
The JFM said that the shipments took place between February 27 and March 29, originating in the company’s Jaipur and Bangalore facilities, where BEL manufactures military communications technology and weaponry. Before the coup, in January 2021 and December 2020, there were other exports to Myanmar, the details of which were vaguely described as “spares for the control centre” and more than 12,000 items listed as “installation materials.”
According to the JFM, the deal with the Myanmar military has been categorised by the company as one of its “major orders” in its annual report last year.
One of BEL’s six overseas branches includes a representative office in Yangon, which, according to the JFM, raises grave concerns over the company’s enabling of the criminal military junta.
Myanmar’s coast guard became operational under its navy in 2019 and its initial coastal surveillance system was provided as part of an agreement signed with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his September 2017 visit to the country.
In its report, the JFM has stated that BEL maintains business agreements with Israeli companies Israel Aerospace Industries and Elbit Systems, and European companies such as Italy’s Beretta and Elettronica, Sweden’s Saab, Denmark’s Terma, and the French-Dutch company Thales.
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 France’s BNP Paribas.
JFM spokesperson Yadanar Maung has urged BEL’s international partners, shareholders and their governments to step forward and take a clear moral stance to put an end to the Indian company’s engagement with Myanmar’s 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.
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