EU countries are unwittingly supplying Myanmar (Burma) with military equipment, despite an international arms embargo, claims a report by international human rights groups.

The report, by nine human rights organisations including Amnesty international, Saferworld and Campaign Against Arms Trade (UK), says helicopters containing components and technology from six EU countries that were sold to India may be re-sold to Myanmar.

The Advanced Light Helicopters, manufactured for the Indian Army, contained British fuel tanks and gearboxes, Belgian rocket launchers, French rockets, guns and engines, brake systems from Italy, protection equipment from Sweden and is based on German designs.

The report says the Indian Government is close to agreeing to a Burmese request for the helicopters, following Myanmars’s offer to help combat insurgency in India’s north-west.

Myanmar has been accused by the UN and the US of engaging in atrocities against civilians, including unlawful killings, abduction, torture and rape.

The EU imposed an arms embargo on the country in 1988, which was last renewed in 2006.

One of the British companies involved, FPT Industries, part of GKN Aerospace Services which supplied fuel tanks for the helicopters, says it is subject to end-use certificates stipulating that they would not be re-exported.

However, the report says the UK Government “does not as a rule include explicit end-use restrictions as a condition on the export licence”, which makes the effectiveness of company’s end-use stipulations unclear

By Elizabeth Clifford-Marsh