Myanmar military invited to arms fair organized by Informa


Protest against Myanmar military junta. Photo by Saw Wunna.

The Myanmar military has been invited to the Tri-Service Asian Defense & Security Exhibition, Conference and Networking Event, running in Bangkok from August 29 to September 1.


The Asian Defense & Security 2022 visitor profile features “High-Ranking Officials from Defence Ministries and Departments, the Army, the Navy and the Air Force” and lists Myanmar as one of the countries.


Defense & Security 2022 involves an arms fair, seminars, technical presentations and live demonstrations, supported by Thailand’s Ministry of Defence. The conference website lists the ASEAN Defence Industry Collaboration as part of the event, an ASEAN program that includes the Myanmar military.


In the last Asian Defense & Security, held in 2019, war criminal Min Aung Hlaing led the military’s delegation, and the army’s Myanmar Defence Industry had a booth. Other official Defense & Security invitees include Australia, Canada, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Japan, Poland, South Korea, and Spain, all of which have arms embargoes in place against Myanmar. The USA has a “partnership pavilion”.


Exhibitors with a record of selling arms and dual-use goods to the Myanmar military include CETC, Elbit Systems, NORINCO, and Thales.


The event organizer, GML (Thailand), is a joint venture registered in China and 49% owned by Informa, a UK corporation listed on the London Stock Exchange, according to its last annual report. Informa did not respond to questions from Justice For Myanmar on the Myanmar military junta’s attendance and if they will be exhibiting in 2022.


Informa is the parent company of the academic publishing giant, Taylor & Francis Group, and its subsidiary, Routledge. Informa acquired the Hong Kong-based exhibition business UBM in June 2018, giving them a stake in GML.


Other upcoming Informa events, where there is a risk that junta representatives could attend, include IFSEC India, a security industry trade fair to be held in New Delhi on December 1-3, showcasing surveillance technology. IFSEC India partner, Hikvision, has supplied CCTV equipment to the Myanmar junta. In 2018, the Myanmar police chief was a VIP guest at an IFSEC event in Southeast Asia, also organized by Informa.


On December 7-10, Informa is co-organizing Marintec, an exhibition in Shanghai supported by the Equipment Department of the PLA Navy and co-sponsored by China State Shipbuilding Corporation Limited, a state-owned navy shipbuilder. Chin State Shipbuilding Corporation is a supplier of the Myanmar Navy, according to leaked documents concerning procurement.


Justice For Myanmar spokesperson Yadanar Maung says: “We condemn Informa’s involvement in arms fairs that support the Myanmar military’s procurement of arms and equipment for use against the people.


“Informa must ensure that the Myanmar junta and its associates are barred from Defense & Security 2022, and all future events, and explain why it allowed Min Aung Hlaing to participate and exhibit in Defense & Security 2019, two years after the Myanmar military’s campaign of genocide against the Rohingya.


“By exhibiting locally produced arms, Informa has helped the Myanmar military develop export markets that can provide it with revenue to finance its international crimes and enrich war criminals.


“Since the military’s February 1, 2021, illegal attempted coup, the junta has launched a terror campaign that has involved the murder of over 2,200 people, the arrest of more than 15,000, widespread torture, indiscriminate air strikes, and shelling, and mass forced displacement.


“The junta’s atrocity crimes are enabled by the continued flow of funds and arms. These must be cut.


“We urge academics who publish research through Taylor & Francis to pressure Informa to ban the Myanmar junta from all its events.


“We demand ASEAN immediately exclude the Myanmar military junta from all events, meetings, and activities, including those associated with Defense & Security 2022, and recognize and engage with the National Unity Government as the legitimate government of Myanmar.”


(c) Justice for Myanmar, 2022