Myanmar’s junta is acquiring new supplies of aviation fuel despite war crimes, says report

A new report by rights groups has identified more companies—including India’s Reliance Industries Ltd and Greece’s Sea Trade Marine—involved in aviation fuel transactions to Myanmar’s junta

March 02, 2023 by Peoples Dispatch
Aviation fuel sold to Myanmar junta
(Photo: Frontier Myanmar)

On Wednesday, March 1, human rights groups reported that despite international condemnation of the military’s ongoing airstrikes, which have killed, injured, and displaced thousands of people, Myanmar’s junta forces have continued to secure supplies of aviation fuel from companies in Asia and Europe. 

A new report by Amnesty International, Global Witness, and the Burma Campaign UK claims to have identified companies involved in these aviation fuel transactions, including Reliance Industries Ltd. of India and Sea Trade Marine from Greece.

“Each of these companies played a role in ensuring the Myanmar military continues to have access to aviation fuel to conduct unlawful air strikes. This has to end. All companies should stop their involvement in the aviation fuel supply chain to Myanmar,” said Montse Ferrer, a researcher from Amnesty who worked on the report.

The report offers evidence of 12,592 tonnes of Jet A-1 aviation fuel being shipped from Bangkok Port in Thailand (which is owned by a Thai company) and arriving in Thilawa in October last year.

“We have traced new shipments of aviation fuel that have likely ended up in the hands of Myanmar’s military, which has consistently conducted unlawful air strikes. These attacks regularly kill civilians, including children, yet planes can only take off if they have fuel,” Ferrer added. 

The report is a follow-up to a previous investigation conducted in 2022, which concluded that fuel supplies for civilian aviation were being diverted to the military. While raising questions regarding the sale of Swiss/Singapore-based Puma Energy’s assets in Myanmar, it noted that the company paid for its stocks of fuel to be sent to a military facility after its decision to withdraw from the country in 2022.

The report urged other states to put controls in place to prevent the supply of aviation fuel to Myanmar, where it is being used to perpetrate atrocities.

Since the junta came into power in 2021, it has carried out 652 airstrikes in different parts of Myanmar. A report in Mizzima estimated that the military government carried out 57 airstrikes in January alone. 

As a result of the junta’s airstrikes, thousands of locals have been forced to flee their homes. More than 288 people, mostly civilians, are also said to have died as a result of these attacks. The airstrikes seem to have only intensified in recent months.

“Since the military’s coup in 2021, it has brutally suppressed its critics and attacked civilians from the ground and the air. Supplies of aviation fuel reaching the military enable these war crimes. These shipments must stop now,” the report added.