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German Govt is Funding Myanmar Junta Military Training: Rights Group

Myanmar regime troops parade on Armed Forces Day in Naypyitaw. / The Irrawaddy

Rights group Justice for Myanmar (JFM) says Germany is funding the training of Myanmar junta military personnel in a potential violation of European Union sanctions.

Germany’s Foreign Office is funding the training via a project run by the Max Planck Foundation to promote maritime peace and security in Southeast Asia.

Myanmar has faced violent political repression by the junta since the coup in February last year, as the majority of people reject military rule. Facing a widespread armed uprising, the junta has been unable to gain control over the country. It has so far killed more than 2,500 people.

The Max Planck Foundation has invited three representatives of the junta to join a workshop in Singapore from November 28 to December 2, the JFM statement said.

Topics to be covered in the workshop include military operations at sea, maritime terrorism, and ways to respond to unilateral sanctions.

Germany’s funding enables a sanctioned entity to reward loyalty, gain legitimacy and acquire skills and knowledge that supports the junta’s illegal attempted coup, JFM spokesperson Ma Yadanar Maung said.

“By providing support and legitimacy to the Myanmar military junta, the German government and the Max Planck Foundation are emboldening its atrocity crimes, undermining democracy and potentially breaching EU sanctions,” she remarked.

JFM pointed out that Germany’s funding appears to breach Article 4a(2) of EU Sanctions, which read, “No funds or economic resources shall be made available, directly or indirectly, to or for the benefit of natural or legal persons, entities or bodies listed in Annex IV.”

Earlier this month, the EU imposed a fifth package of sanctions on Myanmar’s junta, having previously sanctioned regime leader Min Aung Hlaing, defense minister Mya Tun Oo and other junta ministers.

At least two EU-sanctioned individuals are participating in the Max Planck Foundation project, which also legitimizes the junta as the government of Myanmar, JFM said.

The project is strategically important to the military regime given it only has stable control of 17 percent of Myanmar territory, and capacity-building may help increase that control as it intensifies a war of terror against its people. The foundation’s project provides specific skills to assist the junta’s illegal attempt to take control of Myanmar’s coastline and maritime borders, JFM said.

The Max Planck Foundation website states that all 10 ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) member states have nominated representatives for the Singapore workshop – the fifth in a series of six planned activities.

Two in-person workshops have been held since Myanmar’s military seized power last year, in the Philippines in July this year and in Vietnam in September. Junta representatives participated in the Vietnam workshop funded by the German government.