Chinese companies continue to send jet fuel to Myanmar to help bomb civilians

Members of the People's Defence Force clear debris after an air strike on the village of Pa Zi Gyi
Members of the People's Defence Force clear debris after an air strike on the village of Pa Zi Gyi - Myaelatt Athan Media Handout/EPA

Aviation fuel has been transported into the hands of the Myanmar junta via China, Singapore and Vietnam, despite global calls to deprive the military dictatorship of the means to kill civilians in air strikes.

A report by Amnesty International documented an opaque supply chain in which multiple companies are transporting fuel to the junta amid reports from the United Nations that military air strikes on civilian targets increased five fold in the first half of 2024.

The shipments revealed by the human rights group on Monday were delivered by a Chinese-owned oil tanker travelling to Myanmar from Vietnam and also included fuel traders in Singapore and the United Arab Emirates.

Myanmar’s military, which ousted a democratically-elected government in a coup in February 2021, has been on the back foot following a countrywide surge in armed resistance that began in October last year.

However, the junta maintains its grip on the population, in large part, through the superiority of its air power.

Some 170 men, women and children were massacred in the village of Pa Zi Gyi in April last year when the air force dropped a suspected thermobaric bomb on a gathering to inaugurate a community hall in one of the military’s worst atrocities against civilians.

Another air attack reported by Amnesty on May 9 destroyed a monastery in the village of Ah Kyi Pan Pa Lon, in Saw Township, along central Myanmar’s Magway Region.

After two initial air strikes, witnesses said a fighter jet then circled back and followed up with heavy gunfire directed at those fleeing the explosions.

The UK, US, Canada, European Union and Switzerland imposed sanctions on companies and individuals in Myanmar and Singapore involved in the procurement and distribution of aviation fuel to the junta last year.

‘Utter complicity of states responsible’

However, the new report shows the supply chain still in operation, with at least two or three additional shipments of jet fuel having entered the country in the first six months of this year.

The fuel was bought and sold multiple times before reaching the last leg of its trip to Vietnam and obscuring the original supplier.

Agnes Callamard, the secretary general of Amnesty International, said: “The Myanmar military is relying on the very same Chinese vessel and Vietnamese companies to import its aviation fuel, despite Amnesty International having already exposed that reckless supply chain.

“It is a raw display of both the sheer impunity with which the Myanmar military is operating, and the utter complicity of the states responsible, including Vietnam, China and Singapore.”