Israel refuses to end arms sales Burma military amid ongoing violence against Rohingya Muslims

Wednesday 06 September 2017 11:58 BST
Video shows Rohingya flee burning villages in Myanmar

Israel is under fire from human rights groups for refusing to embargo sales of weaponry to the Burmese junta after intensified violence against the country's Rohingya Muslim minority.

More than 100 tanks, as well as boats and light weapons, have been sold to the Burmese government by Israeli arms companies in recent years, investigations by several rights watchdogs have found.

One company, TAR Ideal Concepts, has also trained Burmese special forces in northern Rakhine state, where much of the violence is taking place, posting pictures on their website in August 2016 of its staff teaching combat tactics and how to handle weapons.

An army crackdown triggered by an attack on 25 August by Rohingya insurgents on Burma security forces has triggered a major humanitarian crisis. At least 400 people have been killed and nearly 125,000 Rohingya have fled to neighbouring Bangladesh.

There is a US and EU embargo on selling arms to the South East Asian country, which was until recently under military rule. Israel’s high court will decide on whether to ban arms sales to the country later this month after a petition by Israeli acitivists.

In March, the Israeli defence ministry defended sales, saying that the courts had no jurisdiction over a “diplomatic” issue.

“Successive Israeli governments have been selling arms to the military dictatorship in Burma for years,” Ofer Neiman, an Israeli human rights activist, told Middle East Eye.

“This policy is strongly related to Israel's oppression and dispossession of the Palestinian people. Weapons used against the Palestinians are being sold as 'field-tested' to some of the worst regimes on the planet.”

Graphic photo and video from the region show beheaded children and entire villages burnt to the ground by military and paramilitary forces.

The violence has been condemned by the international community; Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan labelled it a “genocide” last week.

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