12 December 2012, 11:58 CET credit eubusiness.(STOCKHOLM) – Sweden’s export control agency said Wednesday it was investigating how Swedish-made weapons ended up in the hands of Myanmar soldiers in breach of European Union sanctions.
Pictures taken by a Myanmar freelance photographer and published in the Swedish media this week show a Carl Gustaf M3 anti-tank rifle and ammunition left behind by Myanmar government soldiers and recovered by Kachin rebels after recent clashes.
The weapon’s serial number is clearly visible in one of the photographs.
The European Union has had a weapons embargo against Myanmar since 1996.
“There is an investigation underway. We have the photographs and the serial number,” a spokeswoman for the Swedish Agency for Non-Profileration and Export Controls (ISP), Diana Malm, told AFP.
Swedish defence group Saab, which manufactures the weapon, has said it did not sell the rifle to Myanmar and suggested its military must have obtained it from a third party.
Saab said it was cooperating with ISP to determine which country it had sold the weapon to, and to try to trace it.
“We have told ISP that we will help them,” Saab spokesman Sebastian Carlsson said.
Malm said it was “relatively unusual” that Swedish weapons end up in the hands of third parties.
She also noted that Swedish export legislation had changed over the years.
“I don’t want to jump to any conclusions” about what the inquiry will uncover, but “Sweden did export weapons to Myanmar” prior to the weapons embargo.
The EU has operated an arms embargo on Burma in various forms since 1996 and the early 1990s. The embargo covers arms, munitions and military equipment. Subsequent resolutions have extended the embargo to cover equipment that might be used for internal repression or terrorism. Since 2012, though most sanctions were lifted on the Burmese government, the
####################Swedish weapons of Burmese army
Swedish tank weapons used in the civil war in Burma. But it is not about direct export without the weapons that the Burmese army came over via a third country.
December 10, 2012 at 22:22, Updated: 11 december 2012 at 10:06 svd in Kachinbergen, Myanmar
During battles in the mountains of northern Burma in October this year, bombed government forces both local rebels from the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and civilian targets with new, high-performance rocket propelled grenades.
When the fighting was over and KIA pushed back government troops left them behind six of the new weapons in their arsenal – and it proved to be an M-3, one of the recent export models of the Carl Gustaf, a Swedish 84 mm mortar.
This is confirmed by Sebastian Carlsson, Head of Saab:
– After seeing the pictures we have reported the matter to the responsible authority, the ISP that handles the issue. We will assist the ISP if necessary in their work. We are looking seriously at one of our products have landed in Burma, he says.
A considerable amount of grenades were also among those Burmese soldiers were not with them when they retreated from the area. Pictures of the Swedish arms was taken by the Burmese freelance journalist John San Lin.
– We urge the Swedish government to investigate how the Swedish weapons ended up in the hands of the Burmese army, says Zawng Hra, President of the KIA’s political wing, the Kachin Independence Organization, the Svenska Dagbladet in the rebel headquarters in Kachinbergen.
Zawng Hra, now 74 years old, joined the rebel movement in 1963 and has been in northern Burma’s forests and mountains since.
40 countries, at least, has bought the grenade rifle Carl Gustaf. It has been used in war to include Cambodia, Sri Lanka, Afghenistan, India, Iraq, Burma, and the Falkland Islands.
Myanmar has long been subject to an EU arms embargo and the general situation in the country – civil war, repression of human rights – would also make it impossible for the Burmese government to buy arms from Sweden. At this new, lighter model of Carl Gustaf weighing only nine pounds, unlike the old, weighing 13 kg, has so far exported only to a few countries, in Asia only to Burma’s neighbors, Thailand and India.
– We accuse no one, says Zawng Hra. We just want clarity on this issue. It’s not the first time Carl Gustaf pops up in Burma. 1983 I revealed in the Danish newspaper Information to Sweden then sold antitank directly to Burma, contrary to Swedish law. After unveiling suspended Swedish exports and after a few years of fighting against both ethnic and communist rebels took the ammo out.
But 1989 was used Carl Gustaf again against the Karen people’s guerrilla, an ethnic resistance movement in Burma. The Burmese army had by both European and Asian intelligence sources received new shells shipped from Singapore. Grenades were manufactured under license in Singapore but in agreement with Sweden, not intended for export to other countries. Singapore’s authorities denied when they violated the Swedish law and further exported ammunition to Burma.
Now, 23 years later, the Burmese army re-access to both grenade rifles and new shells, but when John San Lin confronted the commander of the Burmese army’s northern command in Kachinstaten, General Tun Tun Naung, with pictures of the Swedish arms, he denied all knowledge about them and their origin. “I know nothing,” he said.
The civil war in Burma has been going on for decades, but in the last year, the government has signed ceasefire agreements with several rebel armies, not KIA as of 8000 men and women in arms is one of the largest. They control large areas of Kachinstaten and has so far refused to join the government’s offer of a ceasefire – as long as the agreement does not also involve political concessions. Right now raging battles in eastern Kachinstaten. Around 50,000 civilians have fled and now staying in temporary camps along the border with China