UN expert criticizes China, Russia for arms sales to Myanmar

GENEVA (AP) — An independent human rights expert working with the United Nations is criticizing China and Russia for allegedly supplying weapons used by Myanmar’s military against civilians since it seized power last year.

Tom Andrews, a special rapporteur working with the U.N. human rights office, urged countries to halt such sales. He also called on the U.N. Security Council, where China and Russia are permanent members, to hold an emergency meeting to discuss a possible ban on sales of arms used by Myanmar’s military against civilians.

“The people of Myanmar are imploring the U.N. to act,” Andrews said in a statement Tuesday. “They deserve an up-or-down vote on a Security Council resolution that will stop the sale of weapons being used to kill them.”

The findings come in a new report from Andrews on the types and amounts of weapons used by the military as early as 2018, when it led a bloody crackdown on the Muslim Rohingya minority that caused hundreds of thousands to flee to neighboring Bangladesh.

Andrews’ research described several categories of weapons transfers, with the ones he identified “most problematically” coming from China, Russia and Serbia, because they have been sent since 2018 and continued after the military’s takeover last year.

He also cited India for having transferred weapons before the coup, and once afterward, and said three other countries — Belarus, Pakistan and Ukraine — had sent arms before the military takeover but not afterward. He said Israel and South Korea have sent naval vessels to Myanmar since 2018 that could be used against civilians, but have since committed to no longer sending weapons.

Andrews, a former U.S. congressman, said a resolution passed by the U.N. General Assembly in June has failed to have “any discernable impact” on the ability of Myanmar’s military to attack civilians, who have demonstrated in large numbers against the government despite its deadly suppression of protests.

Special rapporteurs work with the U.N. human rights office in Geneva based on mandates handed out by the U.N.-backed Human Rights Council, a 47-member body that currently counts both China and Russia as members.

Widespread nonviolent protests in Myanmar followed the military takeover in February last year that ousted the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi. An armed resistance grew after peaceful protests were put down.

More than 1,500 civilians have been killed by security forces, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners.