Thursday, April 11, 2024 | 23:17 WIB

Stop Selling Arms To Myanmar’s Military

Jakarta, IO – This past week Marzuki Darusman, a former attorney general and head of a UN fact-finding mission on Myanmar, lodged a complaint with the Indonesian rights commission, or Komnas HAM, in which he and other plantiffs claim that three Indonesian state-owned weapons manufacturers broke the law by selling arms to Myanmar’s military. 

Marzuki, who is widely-respected within human rights circles, said “the fact defence equipment has been actively promoted after the genocidal campaign against the Rohingya and the 2021 coup is cause for serious concern and casts doubt on the Indonesian government’s willingness to comply with its obligations under international human rights law and humanitarian law.”

Strictly speaking Indonesia has not broken any enforceable laws. While it is true the UN General Assembly has passed a non-binding resolution to impose an arms embargo on Myanmar, unless the UN Security Council passes its own resolution— something unlikely to happen since both Russia and China, both of which sell arms to the junta and have a Security Council veto–then countries can supply military equipment without facing any legal consequences. 

After I raised this issue with Marzuki he retorted «right, that›s the whole point, why call for an embargo if it›s non-binding? Well that›s the UN as we know it! Let me qualify, arms trade with Myanmar is illegal as concerns those states that have imposed sanctions on Myanmar. This, combined with the UN call creates a general sense of prohibition, thus illicity, for those states that would take it to that extent.”

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Marzuki makes a compelling argument against Indonesian state-owned companies selling arms to Myanmar and it certainly merits Komnas HAM›s taking the case seriously. But it also deserves serious attention from the Jokowi administration. On numerous occasions the foreign ministry and politics leaders have denounced Myanmar›s military for its bloody civil war. Now that it appears Indonesia has joined the ranks of China and Russia in supplying lethal weapons to the junta, the government should strongly support investigations into the matter and use its powers to prohibit future sales. This would not only be the right thing to do from a moralistic point-of-view but it would also help preserve Indonesia›s credibility within the international community. As the leader of ASEAN, Indonesia needs to show a true commitment to stopping the violence in Myanmar, but it can only do so by stopping selling arms to its military.

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