Surveillance drones and sophisticated hacking software produced by Israeli and Western firms have been sold to Myanmar, despite bans on exports to the country, a new report claims.
Spyware purchased by Burmese forces is now being used to crack down on dissent following a military coup earlier this month, The New York Times reported on Monday.
The hacking software and military technology made their way into Myanmar despite embargos on arms and dual-use technology introduced in several countries over the ethnic cleansing of Rohingya Muslims.
Since seizing full power again last month, Myanmar's generals have made use of a surveillance toolkit assembled with foreign help. https://t.co/zAjqq4KlEp
— New York Times World (@nytimesworld) March 1, 2021
Israel is among the countries to have barred the export of such technology to Myanmar after it emerged Israeli weaponry was being used against the Rohingya ethnic minority.
Military experts identified the armored vehicles as a model produced by Israel’s Gaia Automotive Industries.
The company’s head, Shlomi Shraga, told the NYT he had not seen images of the vehicles being used in Myanmar and insisted that all Gaia Automative exports had the requisite licenses from Israel’s defense ministry.
Technology produced by Israeli arms manufacturer Elbit Systems and Israeli digital intelligence company Cellebrite has also been purchased by Myanmar, the NYT review of Burmese budget allocations found.
— The Palestine Chronicle (@PalestineChron) March 2, 2021
Elbit claims it has had “no dealings with Myanmar since 2015 or 2016” but spare parts for military-grade surveillance drones produced by the company were sold to Burmese forces in 2019. The sale of parts is included within the arms embargo.
The documents, provided to the NYT by Justice For Myanmar, show how Myanmar spent millions of dollars on technology that can track people’s live locations, listen to their conversations, and mine phones and computers for data.
(The New Arab, PC, Social Media)