Swedish-made weapons used to crush Burma’s ethnic rebels traced back to India

Sweden to investigate sale of its arms to military junta in breach of strict sanctions

Delhi

Officials in Sweden have revealed that Swedish-made weapons used by Burmese troops against Kachin rebels had originally been sold to the Indian government. Selling or passing on such weapons would have been in breach of strict regulations on arms trading.

Earlier this week it emerged that a number of M-3 Carl Gustav anti-tank weapons, produced by Saab Bofors Dynamics, had been recovered by the rebels following clashes with the Burmese army. While most Western sanctions against Burma have been suspended, the prohibition on the sale of weapons remains in place.

Yesterday, a spokeswoman for Sweden’s Agency for Non-Proliferation and Export Controls (ISP) said an investigation based on the serial number on one of the weapons had found it was part of a larger shipment of arms sold to the Indian government in 2003. The spokeswoman said that the Indian embassy in Stockholm was co-operating with the inquiry.

“We had a discussion with them and they said they were looking seriously at this,” said the spokeswoman.

India is among a small number of nations known to have sold weapons to Burma’s military junta over the years. Analysts believe some of the weapons were provided to equip Burmese troops for operations against militant groups operating in India’s north-east but which have camps inside Burma.

Yet in this instance, the M-3 grenade launchers were being used against ethnic rebel fighters in Burma’s north-east in operations that have been widely condemned by the international community. The resumption of conflict in June last year has forced tens of thousands of people into refugee camps.

“The Indians have tried for years to get the Burmese to do something about those cross-border sanctuaries, and even suggested joint operations. But the Burmese have done nothing as those north-east Indian rebels are not posing any threat to them,” said Bertil Lintner, the Swedish journalist who discovered the weapons in Kachin last month. “So, they took the guns from the Indians and attacked the Kachins instead.”

In September 2011, the Democratic Voice of Burma website reported that the armed Indian separatist group, the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA), claimed to have come under attack from Burmese troops who had been supplied with heavy weapons from India. However, there has been speculation the Burmese troops had “put on a show” for the Indians.

A spokesman for Saab, Sebastian Carlsson, said the company had been selling arms to the Indian government for many years. He said the contracts with the Indian authorities included end-user agreements that prohibited the weapons being sold on to other countries. Asked how the weapons had been passed to the Burmese army, Mr Carlsson said: “I don’t speculate.”

India’s ministry of defence, foreign ministry and its embassy in Stockholm have failed to provide answers to questions about the weapons from The Independent.

Campaigners say the revelations highlight serious deficiencies in the system of overseeing the EU sanctions and the need for monitoring.

“This revelation is disturbing but not surprising. India is rapidly becoming one of the world’s largest arms importers and is listed as a “priority market” for UK arms exports,” said the London-based Campaign Against the Arms Trade. “But the fact that these Swedish weapons have been found in the hands of Burma’s army shows that the exporting country has no practical control over how the weapons are used or where they will end up.”

The result of the ISP investigation was first revealed by Sweden’s Trade Minister, Ewa Björling, on Thursday. She told the Swedish parliament officials had requested an “expedited answer” from the Indian authorities. “There has been a weapons embargo in place against Burma for a very long time and Sweden hasn’t exported any weapons there since,” she added.

In a statement, the Swedish government said it had summoned India’s ambassador to stress the seriousness of the matter. “Sweden has strict control legislation regarding exports of military equipment. End-user certificates are a key part of this control system,” said the statement.

“An end-user certificate means that the recipient country makes a commitment to ensure that only its own armed forces make use of the Swedish materiel and that the materiel is not re-exported in any form to a third country.”

Sport
footballLIVE City face Stoke, while Warnock returns to Palace dugout
Life and Style
3D printed bump keys can access almost any lock
gadgets + techSoftware needs photo of lock and not much more
News
Paul McCartney backs the
people
News
i100
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Arts and Entertainment
Inside the gallery at Frederick Bremer School in Walthamstow
tvSimon Usborne goes behind the scenes to watch the latest series
Life and Style
Silvia says of her famous creation: 'I never stopped wearing it. Because I like to wear things when they are off the radar'
fashionThe fashion house celebrated fifteen years of the punchy pouch with a weighty tome
Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace in Summer's Supermarket Secrets
tv All of this year's 15 contestants have now been named
News
i100Steve Carell selling chicken, Tina Fey selling saving accounts and Steve Colbert selling, um...
Life and Style
A picture taken on January 12, 2011 shows sex shops at the Paris district of Pigalle.
newsThe industry's trade body issued the moratorium on Friday
Arts and Entertainment
Could we see Iain back in the Bake Off tent next week?
tv Contestant teased Newsnight viewers on potential reappearance
News
i100
News
The slice of Prince Charles and Princess Diana's wedding cake and the original box from 29 July 1981
newsPiece of Charles and Diana's wedding cake sold at auction in US
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in his Liverpool shirt for the first time
football
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

C# .NET Web Developer (ASP.NET, JavaScript, jQuery, XML, XLST)

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Web De...

Clinical Negligence Solicitor

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: HAMPSHIRE MARKET TOWN - A highly attr...

Network Engineer (CCNP, CCNA, Linux, OSPF, BGP, Multicast, WAN)

£35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Network Engineer (CCNP, CCNA, Linux, OSPF,...

Commercial Property Solicitor - Bristol

Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: A VERY HIGH QUALITY FIRM A high qual...

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone