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JFM welcomes German criminal investigation into MAN links to Myanmar Navy warship after complaint

July 31st, 2023  •  Author:   Justice For Myanmar  •  5 minute read
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The German state prosecutor in Augsburg has launched a criminal investigation into MAN Energy Solutions, which supplied key components to the UMS Moattama warship, allegedly in violation of Germany’s Foreign Trade Law and European Union Dual Use Regulations. This follows a criminal complaint filed by Greenpeace Germany with the attorney Holger Rothbauer, using evidence and research provided by Justice For Myanmar. The opening of the investigation was first reported by Süddeutsche Zeitung.

The UMS Moattama is a landing platform dock/amphibious assault ship, boosting the Myanmar Navy’s capabilities to move troops, tanks, armoured personnel carriers and other arms and equipment to support its ongoing campaign of terror against the people.

Since the military’s illegal coup attempt, the UMS Moattama has reportedly been used to transport troops, rocket systems and heavy artillery to Rakhine State, where the military continues to commit atrocities. The Moattama is also used in the junta’s Sea Shield military exercises.

The UMS Moattama was built in South Korea and transferred to the Myanmar military in 2019, in the aftermath of its genocide against the Rohingya which involved the Myanmar Navy.

MAN Energy Solutions SE, a subsidiary of Volkswagen Group, supplied the ship’s main engine, power consumers, propellor and propellor control system, control and propellor equipment, and also gave training to Myanmar Navy personnel in South Korea, apparently involving its subsidiary in Denmark.

MAN Energy Solutions is just one of a number of German companies that supplied equipment and technology for the UMS Moattama. Other German companies include:

  • Raytheon Anschütz GmbH, which has recently restructured, supplied radar equipment, a gyro compass system, and the autopilot and steering control system,
  • Reintjes GmbH supplied the gearbox with parts from other German companies including Kracht GmbH,
  • Alfons Haar Maschinenbau GmbH & Co KG supplied the helicopter refuelling system,
  • Cassens & Plath GmbH supplied the magnetic compass system,
  • RHOTHETA Elektronik GmbH supplied the direction finder,
  • GEA Westfalia Separator Group GmbH provided separators with parts from other German companies including Boll & Kirch Filterbau GmbH,
  • DSB Deutsche Schlauchboot GmbH of Survitec Group provided rescue boats.

Justice For Myanmar calls on German authorities to also open criminal investigations into the remaining companies that supplied equipment and technology to the Myanmar Navy warship.

The action taken by German authorities was based on evidence from the Myanmar Navy Chief Petty Officer Myat Min Thu, a whistle-blower who is part of the Civil Disobedience Movement and who was a recipient of training by MAN in South Korea and served on the ship until 2021.

In 2021, South Korean police launched a police investigation into the illegal transfer of the Moattama to the Myanmar military, targeting Daesun Shipbuilding & Engineering, which built the ship; Posco International, which brokered the transfer; and Korea’s Ministry of Defence. The investigation remains ongoing.

In November 2020, Justice For Myanmar, Korean Civil Society in Solidarity with Rohingya and Korean Transnational Corporation Watch filed complaints with the OECD National Contact Point in Korea and the National Human Rights Commission of Korea against Daesun Shipbuilding & Engineering, Posco International and other businesses supporting the Myanmar military.

The complaint led to scrutiny of the warship export and the police investigation. The police investigation was later supported through the cooperation of Myat Min Thu.

Justice For Myanmar spokesperson Yadanar Maung says: “We welcome the action taken by the German public prosecutor in Augsburg in response to the criminal complaint by Greenpeace Germany.

“The Myanmar Navy is responsible for genocide against the Rohingya and continues to enforce the junta’s policy of apartheid, arbitrarily detaining Rohingya men, women and children who attempt to flee. The military and all those complicit in its international crimes are yet to be held accountable.

“The UMS Moattama, equipped with German technology, supports the Myanmar military’s capabilities to move troops and arms across coastal areas as it wages a campaign of terror against the people.

“Prosecution is an important step towards accountability for the transfer of arms and dual use goods to the Myanmar military, and to prevent future arms transfers from Germany and the European Union, but they need to be widened to all companies involved in the Moattama project.

“Both Germany and the EU have laws in place to prevent the transfer of arms and dual use goods to the genocidal Myanmar military, but governments have repeatedly failed to enforce them, enabling the military to gain access to equipment and technology that supports ongoing war crimes and crimes against humanity.

“Germany must show that breaches of the law will not be tolerated, and we call on other EU member states whose companies have illegally transferred arms, equipment and technology to investigate and hold them accountable.

“We urge Danish authorities to swiftly investigate and take action against MAN’s Danish subsidiary for its role in the Myanmar Navy’s UMS Moattama project.”

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