October 18, 2021, Myanmar: A leaked November 2020 Myanmar army procurement document shows attempts to procure parts for tactical radios from Barrett Communications, an Australian defence firm that has been selling equipment to Myanmar for almost twenty years.
The army’s request specifies handsets, battery packs, display modules, internal modems, antenna tuning units and power amplifier interfaces for Barrett’s PRC-2090 manpack. According to the Barrett Communications website, a feature of the unit is frequency hopping, which is a prohibited export under Australia’s sanctions regime on Myanmar. The company told Justice For Myanmar that frequency hopping is not a standard item on the PRC-2090.
Barrett Communications disclosed to Justice For Myanmar that their last sale to Myanmar was in 2017, with Australian government authorisation. The company would not provide further details, stating that "all business transactions are commercial in confidence." 2017 is the year that the military launched a campaign of genocide against the Rohingya.
A spokesperson for Barrett Communications acknowledged that PRC-2090 parts could have been sold to the Myanmar military by third party sellers without authorisation from Barrett Communications.
Justice For Myanmar found that Barrett radios are also deployed in military airports and airports with heavy military traffic. In addition to Barrett equipment, Myanmar has also procured radios from Codan Limited for use in airports and the army may have received ultra-long range telemetry radio modems from RFDesign Pty Ltd. Codan and RFDesign are also Australian companies.
Justice For Myanmar spokesperson Yadanar Maung says: “We are appalled that the Myanmar military is using Australian technology for troop communications and air force operations. It has been known for over a decade that Barrett Communications provides advanced technology to the Myanmar military, an organisation that has committed genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity against the people of Myanmar for decades with total impunity. Why then is the Australian government allowing this equipment to be sold to this terrorist organisation, which is waging a war against the Myanmar people? We want to know if the Australian government is complicit by approving these exports. If Barrett Communications is breaching Australia’s export controls, then they must be held accountable by law. It is appalling that successive Australian governments have courted the military and are now giving the junta a free pass, not even sanctioning coup leader and war criminal Min Aung Hlaing. Australia needs to immediately strengthen and reinforce its arms control regime to ensure that no more equipment is transferred to the Myanmar junta.”
Codan Ltd and RFDesign did not respond to a request from Justice For Myanmar for an explanation of their business with Myanmar.
Note to editors
See Justice For Myanmar’s investigation into the Myanmar military’s procurement of Australian radios here: www.justiceformyanmar.org/stories/the-myanmar-military-are-using-australian-radios-to-commit-atrocities
Justice For Myanmar, a group of covert activists campaigning for justice and accountability for the people of Myanmar, is calling for an end to military business and for federal democracy and a sustainable peace.
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