Human Lives Human Rights: Ahead of the third anniversary of the 2021 coup, fresh evidence indicates Myanmar’s military is utilizing new tactics to import aviation fuel following sanctions imposed in response to unlawful air strikes causing civilian casualties.
A comprehensive analysis of shipping, satellite, trade, and customs data reveals significant changes in how aviation fuel enters Myanmar. The military seems to be employing new routes and relying on storage units to obscure the fuel’s origin.
After international action targeted the deadly supply chain, the military is evading sanctions, resorting to a multi-step process with intermediaries involved. In 2023, at least seven aviation fuel shipments, totaling over 67 kilotonnes, entered Myanmar via indirect sales.
The shift from direct sales to multiple transactions makes it harder to trace the fuel’s origin. Notably, these shipments connect to a storage unit in Vietnam, making it challenging to link the fuel to its source.
Vietnam plays a crucial role, with shipments loading aviation fuel at the Cai Mep Petroleum terminal near Ho Chi Minh City. Traders, including BB Energy (Asia) Pte. Ltd., are involved, raising questions about their knowledge of the fuel’s ultimate destination.
All seven shipments offloaded at the former Puma Energy terminal in Yangon, Myanmar, which is linked to sanctioned entities. The terminal’s joint venture with a military-controlled entity further raises concerns about sanctions effectiveness and compliance.
The Vietnamese government faces scrutiny for its ports potentially being used for activities linked to human rights violations. The seven shipments, offloaded in Myanmar, were transported by Chinese-flagged and Liberian-flagged oil tankers, with ownership details unconfirmed.
Companies involved, including jet fuel suppliers, traders, and storage terminal managers, bear responsibility under the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. The entire value chain must be assessed for human rights risks.
Myanmar witnessed a surge in military air strikes in 2023, with significant civilian casualties reported. Rights groups emphasize the need to halt jet fuel imports into Myanmar to curb the military’s lethal air strikes and protect human rights.
Since the 2021 coup, Myanmar has experienced deadly air strikes targeting schools, IDP camps, and civilian infrastructure. The urgent call is to cease jet fuel imports to prevent fuel from reaching the hands of the Myanmar military, mitigating the ongoing human rights crisis.