Thomas Andrews, the UN Special Rapporteur for Myanmar, told the Voice of America (VOA) onTuesday that he was fully convinced the information presented in the report in which Serbia, Russia and China were named as countries that continued to export weapons to Myanmar after the military coup in February 2021 was accurate.
In a document released on February 22, Andrews said that in Myanmar, where a post-election military junta overthrew its democratically elected government, the delivery of rockets and artillery shells used in clashes with civilians continued.
The Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN) and the Centre for Investigative Reporting (CINS) published reports showing that Serbia exported 4.7 million euros worth of rockets to the country after the military coup in Myanmar.
Serbia’s Foreign Ministry last week denied the delivery of weapons to Myanmar.
„The report of the Special Rapporteur, which, among other things, talks about Serbia’s role in supplying the Myanmar Army with weapons, is largely based on speculation and unnamed sources, and not on internationally verified facts,“ the Ministry said in a statement.
However, in an interview with VOA, Andrews rejects that.
„My report is accurate. I sent it to all the nations listed and identified in the report. I sent them all the information I had and asked them for answers. So I was sure that everything that was published was true. If something in the document were incorrect, we would have made corrections „, Andrews said, adding he stood behind the facts in the report.
„There was a report published a few days ago, after the request for information of public importance, sent to Serbia’s Government. One of my sources was the government and their documents. The following happened – Serbia’s Government approved the transfer of weapons and ammunition to Myanmar in February, March, April and June 2021. That’s what we knew. We also knew that the actual transfer was done after the coup in February last year, not just the approval but also the transfer of weapons. So we know that there were approvals for the transfer of weapons and that the weapons were transferred at least once – in February 2021. It happened after the coup, and we reported it,“ Andrews said.
Regarding Serbia’s Government information to him that Belgrade stopped doing business with Myanmar, the UN rapporteur it was important that Serbia’s authorities indicated in a statement that they no longer exported weapons to Myanmar, and that if every country in the world made such a decision, it would be a very positive development.
„They responded very quickly to my first letter a few weeks ago. They provided me with helpful information. I contacted them for the second time in February, about two weeks ago, before publishing the report. I presented them with additional information. We wanted to clarify the new information… However, this time we received an answer from Serbia’s Government that did not contain any information except that my letter was received. No response to the essence of what was in the letter,“ he added.
The UN Rapporteur said that since the coup, Serbia had approved exporting thousands of rockets and artillery shells to the Myanmar army.
„I specified in the text what their size is in millimetres and so on. I described that these missiles are used to equip fighter planes and helicopters that bomb civilians in Myanmar. Also, since the coup, Serbia has approved several deliveries of rockets and grenades – February 2021, March 2021, April 2021 and June 2021. Credible information indicates that at least one shipment of rockets of 80 millimetres was sent to the Myanmar army in February 2021. That is part of what I sent,“ Andrews said, reiterating that the only response he got from Belgrade was that his letter arrived.