[dropcap font="" size="50px" background="" color="" circle="0" transparent="0"]H[/dropcap]uman rights activists are calling on Japan to stop training members of Myanmar’s notoriously brutal military — known as the Tatmadaw — in what Human Rights Watch (HRW) described as the “wishful thinking”
that the training will spark change from within
According to The Asahi Shimbun
, Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi said, “By thoroughly teaching these students about the way an organization works in a democratic country, I hope [the training program] will help to rebuild the future of Myanmar.” But if the example of Myanmar Air Force Lt. Col. Hlwan Moe is anything to go by, the training has failed.
Hlwan Moe received training at Japan’s Air Command and Staff College from August 2016 to March 2017, documents
show. He is among the abusive forces that have been implicated in atrocities such as summary executions
, arson, and possible indiscriminate airstrikes
in Myanmar’s central Magway Region, HRW and Justice For Myanmar said on May 22
Since the February 2021 coup, heavy fighting in the region, including armed clashes and airstrikes, has displaced over 50,000 civilians, reports Mizzima
. The Myanmar military has committed summary executions, arson, and other abuses, including possible indiscriminate airstrikes in Magway, according to media reports.
Across the country, the security forces have killed over 1,800 people, including at least 130 children, and arbitrarily arrested over 13,000, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners
The Tatmadaw have a long history of warfare against “a complex, competing network of armed ethnic militias — all seeking self-determination away from the central Burmese state,” reports the BBC
. “It’s shaped the Tatmadaw into this ruthless fighting machine that will just follow orders robotically,” says Gwen Robinson, a Myanmar expert at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok.
The notoriety of Myanmar’s military should’ve cautioned Japan that “its military training program was going to risk making Japan complicit in atrocities,” said Teppei Kasai, Asia program officer at HRW. “The Japanese government should give up its absurd, wishful thinking that its training program can change [the Tatmadaw’s] abusive culture.”