By Azeem Ibrahim
In late April, Commander-in-Chief of the Myanmar Defense Services, General Min Aung Hlain, was received with much pageantry by his opposite numbers in both Austria and Germany during a good-will tour of the European countries. There were guard-of-honour, inspections of the troops, and then extensive introductions to senior military figures in both countries in turn.
It was not a typical exchange, but, as Myanmar continues to open up to the world, Western countries, especially European countries, have generally taken the view that the rulers of Myanmar, of which Gen Aung Hlain remains probably the most influential, despite the transition to civilian government in the country under Aung San Suu Kyi, should be encouraged to continue on the current course. And rewarding particular individuals in this way might be a sensible way to offer a carrot for the progress the country has made so far.
Or at least, this would all have been quite reasonable, were it not for the fact that Gen Aung Hlain was invited to a number of arms manufacturing facilities in both countries. There is currently still an embargo in place on the sale of armaments to Myanmar, but it is expected that this embargo will be lifted soon. So this was not just a diplomatic event. It was a business meeting.
But it may interest the Austrian and German officials to know who they are proposing to sell armaments and military training to. And if not the officials in those countries, it should certainly interest their citizens what their leaders are getting themselves into.
Gen Aung Hlain is in charge of the security services who are overseeing and are currently largely responsible for perpetrating one of the most serious abuses of human rights going on at the moment in the world: the ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya Muslim minority from Myanmar.
”Whenever the authorities needed to distract the people from the ways in which they were mismanaging the country, they used to instigate another conflict with the Rohingya, or with other minorities” Dr. Azeem Ibrahim
‘The enemy within’