[Joint Statement] Indonesia: Government must investigate alleged arms trade between state-owned enterprises and the Myanmar military junta
18 October 2023 2:18 pm
(Bangkok, 18 October 2023) – The Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA) and 26 member organisations express are gravely concerned over the alleged arms trade between three Indonesian state-owned weapons manufacturers and the Myanmar military junta.
We call on the Government of Indonesia to thoroughly investigate the matter and to cease all activities that could potentially enable, legitimise, or intensify the junta’s atrocities.
On 2 October 2023, the Myanmar Accountability Project, the Chin Human Rights Organization, and Marzuki Darusman–Indonesia’s ex-attorney general and chair of the United Nations Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar to the National Commission on Human Rights of Indonesia (KOMNAS HAM)–filed a formal complaint to initiate an investigation into the alleged involvement of PT. Pindad, PT. PAL, and PT. Dirgantara Indonesia in supplying weapons to the Myanmar military junta, particularly since the attempted coup in February 2021.
Citing open-source investigations, the sale was allegedly made to Myanmar’s True North Co. Ltd owned by Htoo Htoo Shein Oo. The latter is the son of the junta’s Planning and Finance Minister Win Shein, who is currently sanctioned by the United States, Canada, and European Union for his role in the military government.
However, the three enterprises alongside its holding company, DEFEND ID, have denied the allegations. They claimed that PT Pindad’s arms export to Myanmar was limited to the ASEAN Armies Rifle Meet in 2016. Meanwhile, PT. PAL and PT. Dirgantara Indonesia claimed that it never had any form of agreement with Myanmar.
Meanwhile, True North Co Ltd has referred to the three companies as its ‘strategic partners.’ Moreover, in July 2023–following a visit by the Indonesian President Joko Widodo to PT Pindad’s manufacturing facility–PT. Pindad confirmed that it had exported munitions to multiple countries including Myanmar. This may indicate a possible provision of arms by the three companies to Myanmar before and post the attempted coup.
Lest we forget, the Myanmar military junta has killed approximately 3,857 civilians, including 610 women and 376 children. Proving its blatant disregard for human lives, the junta has launched approximately 687 airstrikes between April 2022 and July 2023. In October 2023, the junta ruthlessly attacked a camp for displaced persons in Kachin State, killing 29 people and wounding 56 others.
Reiterating Indonesia’s position as the current ASEAN Chair and an upcoming member of the UN Human Rights Council from 2024 to 2026, the Indonesian Government has pledged to actively promote and protect human rights in the region. Likewise, the government committed to condemn the continued acts of violence in Myanmar. In fact, President Widodo stated that tactical and extraordinary efforts are crucial for successfully implementing the ASEAN’s five-point consensus. At the UN General Assembly, Indonesia voted for the prevention of arms flow to Myanmar. The Indonesian Government must therefore take genuine action to actualise such commitments.
Call to Action
FORUM-ASIA calls on the Indonesian Government to uphold its commitment to protect human rights and cease all activities–including arms trade–that can further endanger the lives of the people of Myanmar.
To ensure accountability, we urge the government to thoroughly investigate the alleged arms trade between its state-owned companies and Myanmar.
‘Stepping into its new role of championing human rights protection across the entire region, Indonesia must ensure that it does not contribute–either directly or indirectly–to the sufferings of the people of Myanmar. The government must do its best to prove and guarantee that none of its state-owned enterprises is involved in any way with the Myanmar military junta. Profits must never come at the cost of democracy, lives, and the fundamental freedoms of the Myanmar people,’ said Mary Aileen Diez-Bacalso, Executive Director of FORUM-ASIA.
- Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)
- Association of Women for Awareness & Motivation (AWAM) – Pakistan
- Awaz Foundation Pakistan – Centre for Development Services
- Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM) – India
- Bytes for All (B4A) – Pakistan
- Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC)
- Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (LICADHO)
- Center for Human Rights and Development (CHRD) – Mongolia
- Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence – Komisi untuk Orang Hilang dan Korban Tindak Kekerasan (KontraS) – Indonesia
- Defence of Human Rights (DHR) – Pakistan
- Equality Myanmar (EQMM)
- Forum for Dignity Initiatives (FDI) – Pakistan
- Indonesian Legal Aid and Human Rights Association (PBHI)
- International Legal Initiative Public Foundation (ILI Foundation) – Kazakhstan
- Korean House for International Solidarity (KHIS) – South Korea
- Madaripur Legal Aid Association (MLAA), Bangladesh
- National Alliance for Human Rights and Social Justice (Human Rights Alliance) – Nepal
- National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP) – Pakistan
- People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy (PSPD) – South Korea
- People’s Watch, India
- Progressive Voice
- Psychological Responsiveness NGO, Mongolia
- Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit (RMMRU) – Bangladesh
- The Indonesian Human Rights Monitor (Imparsial)
- Think Centre – Singapore
- Women’s Rehabilitation Centre (WOREC) – Nepal
- YLBHI (Indonesia Legal Aid Foundation)
The Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA) is a network of 85 member organisations across 23 countries, mainly in Asia. Founded in 1991, FORUM-ASIA works to strengthen movements for human rights and sustainable development through research, advocacy, capacity development and solidarity actions in Asia and beyond. It has consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council, and consultative relationship with the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights. The FORUM-ASIA Secretariat is based in Bangkok, with offices in Jakarta, Geneva and Kathmandu. www.forum-asia.org
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- Communication and Media Programme, FORUM-ASIA, [email protected]