August 21, 2021, Myanmar: The Myanmar military is attending the International Army Games in Russia, participating in multiple events where they will hone skills that aid and abet the military’s ongoing atrocity crimes. The “games” are organised by Russia’s Ministry of Defence, along with the concurrent event, International Military and Technical Forum, ARMY 2021, which promotes arms sales and technical cooperation and will showcase military use of artificial intelligence.
The International Army Games, which begin on August 22, coincide with the fourth anniversary of the launch of the Myanmar military’s “clearance operations” against the Rohingya on August 25, which amounted to the crime of genocide.
At the Army Games, the Myanmar military will be competing in events including the “tank biathlon”, “sea cup”, “sniper frontier”, “airborne platoon” and “army of culture”. These events further equip the Myanmar military with skills to kill, as they continue deliberate attacks against Myanmar people with total impunity. The “games” also provide the Myanmar junta with a platform for multilateral military cooperation at a time when it is seeking international legitimacy following its illegitimate February 1 coup attempt.
For instance, the objectives of “sniper frontier” are “strengthening of international military cooperation among states…; raising the level of training of sniper units; learning sniper actions, implementing best practices, methods of sniper training; exchanging experience and increasing the prestige of military service”.
Justice For Myanmar spokesperson Yadanar Maung says: “Russia has reached new depths of complicity by inviting the Myanmar military to participate in the Army Games, while this military continues its campaign of terror across the country and weaponises Covid-19 for political gain. Military cooperation, training, and arms sales amount to aiding and abetting the Myanmar military’s international crimes. We call on the international community to take immediate action to end Russian complicity in war crimes and crimes against humanity perpetrated by the Myanmar military, including through a global arms embargo. The Myanmar military’s participation in the Army Games will embolden the illegal junta, which is murdering Myanmar people daily in a desperate attempt to entrench their power. This is not a “game” for the Myanmar people.”
While ASEAN has agreed to a five-point consensus on Myanmar, which includes the immediate cessation of violence, ASEAN member states and their regional supporters are participating in events with the Myanmar military in Russia, including the militaries of China, Malaysia, Vietnam, Lao, India and Bangladesh. Israel and the EU member states of Greece and Cyprus are also participating in the “games”.
Yadanar Maung continues: “The participation of some ASEAN member states and regional powers in games with the Myanmar military further calls into question their commitment to end violence in Myanmar and broker a peaceful solution in the interests of the Myanmar people. We reiterate calls for the UN to urgently intervene in the humanitarian and human rights crisis caused by the military through its brutal coup attempt and campaign of terror.”
The cost of Myanmar’s participation in the event is substantial but undisclosed, coming at the expense of the Myanmar people who are facing a severe humanitarian and human rights catastrophe as the junta’s collective punishment against people who categorically reject their coup attempt deepens and COVID-19 spreads exponentially. One of the more costly events is the “sea cup”, in which Myanmar will deploy a warship to the base of Russia’s Pacific Fleet in Vladivostok.
Justice For Myanmar, a group of covert activists campaigning for justice and accountability for the people of Myanmar, is calling for an end to military business and for federal democracy and a sustainable peace.
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