September 4, 2017


Burma Campaign UK today called on the British government to immediately halt training programmes being provided for free to the Burmese military.

Last year the British government spent more than £300,000 training the Burmese military, 67 percent of the spending comes from the overseas development budget.

The Burmese military is engaged in a new military offensive against Rohingya civilians. The new offensive began after police stations and government offices were attacked and at least 11 police and military personnel were killed. However, instead of going after those who carried out the attacks, the military is targeting all Rohingya people indiscriminately, even children.

Rohingya sources believe that since August 25th more than a thousand people have been killed, including children. More than 10,000 homes have been burnt down by the military. More than 150,000 people are fleeing for their lives.

The military operations have been described as a scorched earth policy, leaving nothing for people to return to, cleansing the area. Reports are also starting to come through of soldiers raping women.

The British government claimed the training it was giving would help improve human rights, but four years on, human rights violations by the Burmese Army are increasing, not decreasing. It does not provide combat training.

The United Nations is already investigating possible crimes against humanity committed by the Burmese military in a military offensive against Rohingya civilians which began in October last year. They are also being investigated by the United Nations for possible war crimes and crimes against humanity against other ethnic groups in the country.

The training has no clear goals or purpose, and no evaluation of its effectiveness for whatever purpose it may have has been undertaken. No efforts are made to check that soldiers receiving training and visiting the UK have not been involved in violations of international law.  No efforts are made to find out if soldiers who have received training go on to be involved in violations of international law.

No commitment was sought or given that the Burmese military should respect international law and stop committing human rights violations in return for the training.

“British taxpayers will be horrified to learn that their tax money is spent training an army of rapists and child killers,” said Mark Farmaner, Director of Burma Campaign UK. “Giving free training to the Burmese military at the same time as they commit crimes against humanity is completely indefensible.”

Burma Campaign UK is asking people to email British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson calling on him to end the training.


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