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Business-Military Collusion in Myanmar's Minority 'Clean-Up' Operations

The issue of Burmese billionaire Tay Zaw’s financial contributions to Myanmar’s military regime that we alerted you to earlier is now becoming public due in part to the leak of a US diplomatic cable. We have been monitoring the activities of Zaw for some time and it is now known that he has been donating tens of thousands of dollars (perhaps millions) to fund military operations that are directly targeting minorities and figures believed to be connected to the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO/KIA).

Zaw’s most recent “donation” was actually made in public and totaled over $80,000. Mr Zaw has massive interests in Kachin State in the form of mining (largely jade) and timber. We have also long been following the trail that leads to his weapons sales directly to the military. These weapons appear to be of Chinese origin and are smuggled across the border under the cover of his various businesses, including one in the aviation industry. A US diplomatic cable from 2009 suggests the same, and we show no signs that that trade has ceased.

What is most significant here is the Chinese connection. The Chinese have massive economic interests in Kachin, and now it is interfering in the military’s conflict with the Kachin peoples. Beijing is professing to be playing the role of mediator between the two sides in an attempt to end a conflict that erupted in 2011 after 17 years of shaky peace. That China is willing to interfere is very…

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