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Thai banks are the top suppliers of financial services to Myanmar’s military, UN expert says

BANGKOK (AP) — Thai banks have become the main supplier of international financial services for Myanmar’s military government, enabling its purchases of goods and equipment used to carry out its increasingly bloody war against pro-democracy resistance forces and armed ethnic minority groups, a U.N. expert said in a report issued Wednesday.

The report by Tom Andrews, the U.N. special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, tracks how that country’s ruling military council has been able to continue procuring arms by shifting suppliers of financial services and military hardware as previous sources have been blocked by sanctions imposed by the United States, the European Union and other states.

The report charges that companies in Thailand, Myanmar’s eastern neighbor, have taken up the slack left by the withdrawal of Singapore firms’ business with the ruling junta.

It says the junta, formally known as the State Administration Council, “continues to engage with a broad international banking network to sustain itself and its weapons supplies.”

“Over the past year, 16 banks located in seven countries processed transactions related to SAC military procurement; 25 banks have provided correspondent banking services to Myanmar’s state-owned banks since the coup,” says the report, titled “Banking on the Death Trade: How Banks and Governments Enable the military Junta in Myanmar,” presented to the U.N. Human Rights Council.

Myanmar’s junta came to power in February 2021 after the army ousted the democratically elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi. After security forces used deadly force to suppress nonviolent protests, armed resistance arose and the country is now in a civil war. Myanmar’s military has been accused of