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Israel rejects call to suspend weapons exports to Burma

Irrawaddy - January 10, 2017

Saw Yan Naing Israel's defense ministry rejected a call from human rights activists and lawyers in the country to suspend military exports to Burma.

Jerusalem-based human rights lawyer Eitay Mack told The Irrawaddy on Tuesday that the Israeli defense ministry said in a letter sent on Jan. 8 that it would go ahead with the Burma Army deal as the exports stand within international law and were approved by the foreign ministry.

The ministry told Eitay Mack they would not comment on deals with specific states.

He said this secrecy was "strange" given that Burma Army chief Snr-Gen Min Aung Hlaing made weapons deals and military cooperation with Israel public in Facebook posts in September 2015 and August 2016.

Israeli activists and lawyers wrote to the head of Israel's Ministry of Defense's export control department in early December 2016 calling for a review of all defense export licenses with the Burma Army.

The letter gave the reason that the Burma Army is still in conflict with ethnic minorities in the north and east of the country and is committing serious human rights violations against the Rohingya Muslim minority in the west.

Eitay Mack said that after the ministry's rejection he will file an urgent petition with the Israeli Supreme Court in an attempt to prevent the export.

He said that a large security company in Israel had also published on its website that it provided weapons and training to the Burma Army.

In his September 2015 trip to Israel, Snr-Gen Min Aung Hlaing together with officials from Burma's air force and navy visited Israeli defense company Elbit Systems.

The delegation also toured an Israeli naval base, the country's Ministry of Defense headquarters in Tel Aviv, and a memorial to fallen soldiers in the Gaza Strip.

Israel, Russia, China, Singapore, India, Pakistan, Belarus, and North Korea have all exported weapons to Burma in the past.

Source: http://www.irrawaddy.com/news/burma/israel-rejects-call-to-suspend-weapons-exports-to-burma.html.

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