The UK government has approved the sale of £16 million [K16 billion] of crowd-control and anti-riot equipment, including tear gas and rubber bullets, to countries including Myanmar who are on its own human-rights blacklist, reports The Independent in a story on March 9.
Figures detailing the export of material implicated in the quelling of internal dissent in locations from Egypt to Hong Kong are made public ahead of a Home Office-organised business fair held behind closed doors this week which will showcase British arms and security companies to dozens of foreign governments, the newspaper reports.
Myanmar is currently in the news over police crackdowns on students’ and workers’ protests.
Every year the UK Parliamentary Committee on Arms Exports produces a report on exports to countries which are listed as countries of concern in the Annual Human Rights report published by the Foreign Office, said Mr Mark Farmaner, director of Burma Campaign UK.
Myanmar is a “country of concern” for the UK government.
“Burma Campaign UK asked the British Foreign Office for details of exactly what equipment is being exported to Burma, but despite preaching the importance of transparency in doing business in Burma, they refused to tell us, on the grounds that the information is commercially confidential,” he told Mizzima.
“The problem with exporting riot control and other similar equipment to Burma’s police force is that the police work for an authoritarian regime, not a democratic government. The police are used to implement repressive laws which violate human rights. The equipment can just as easily be used against students on a peaceful protest as it can against nationalists attacking Muslim homes,” Mr Farmaner said.
The British government has been involved in the training of Myanmar police and Myanmar military officers following the opening up of the country in 2011.