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Adani links to Myanmar military exposed in new report

Adani CEO Karan Adani meeting Senior General of the Myanmar military Min Aung Hlaing on a tour of a port in India in 2019.
Adani CEO Karan Adani seen here with Senior General of the Myanmar military Min Aung Hlaing on a tour of a port in India in 2019. Source: Australian Centre for International Justice

Ties between Adani and the Myanmar military have been revealed in a new report from human rights and activist groups. 

Most in Australia are familiar with the name ‘Adani’, with their Carmichael coal mine at the centre of a years-long battle by environmental groups across the country.

Now, a joint report by the Australian Centre for International Justice (ACIJ) and Justice For Myanmar has revealed ties between Adani Ports, a subsidiary of the Indian multinational conglomerate Adani Group, and the Myanmar Economic Corporation (MEC), which is operated by the Myanmar military. 

Leaked documents show that Adani Ports paid tens of millions of dollars to the MEC in relation to a port lease. The report also shows that Adani CEO, Karan Adani, met and exchanged gifts with Senior General of the Myanmar military Min Aung Hlaing in 2019. 

Rawan Arraf, Executive Director at the Australian Centre for International Justice, said it’s appalling that Adani Ports is going against the wave of multinational corporations suspending operations in Myanmar. 

“If doing business with those accused of genocide does not trigger a fundamental revaluation of your business, one would have thought, that when your business partner stages a violent coup – that would be the final straw. From our point of view, Adani’s actions or omissions show that it doesn’t care about the human rights impacts of its deal in Myanmar. 

“That’s why we’re calling on governments, investors and shareholders to act and divest from Adani Ports. By doing this, investors are showing that they support and stand with the people in Myanmar in their struggle to end the abuses and economic control of the military”, she said. 

The Myanmar military, known as the Tatmadaw, overthrew the democratically-elected government of Myanmar on February 1st this year. They have since conducted a violent crackdown on demonstrations across the country opposing the coup. The military has also been accused of genocide against the Rohingya population in the west of the country in 2017. 

“Adani Ports is complicit in atrocity crimes in Myanmar through their business with Myanmar military conglomerate MEC. As Adani has major business in Australia, the company’s appalling disregard for the lives of Myanmar people is relevant to the Australian public and government, in addition to the environmental concerns associated with the Carmichael mine project”, Justice For Myanmar spokesman, Yadanar Maung, told The Advocate. 

Adani Ports in Australia

This report raises concerns about operations of Adani Ports in Australia connected to Myanmar’s military. Adani Ports owns Bowen Rail Company, which is slated to operate coal haulage from the controversial Carmichael mine in central Queensland to its port at Abbott Point, located on the Great Barrier Reef. 

“The question for Australia and Australians is whether we want to be hosting a company that is contributing to the enrichment of the Myanmar military”, said Former Member of the UN Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar and Member of the Special Advisory Council for Myanmar Chris Sidoti. 

Pablo Brait, campaigner with Market Forces, said that these revelations add to Adani’s image as both environmentally and socially irresponsible. 

“Adani Ports’ role in the Carmichael thermal coal project – a project that will fuel the climate crisis and the extreme weather it is causing – shows it is not a responsible or ethical company. When you add its reported links to the Myanmar military you get a picture of a company with a very concerning environmental, social and governance risk profile”, he said.

The ACIJ has been working in collaboration with Justice For Myanmar to expose and put pressure on foreign companies and governments with ties to the Myanmar military, many members of which are currently under sanctions from a number of countries due to accused human rights abuses and violations of international law. They seek to undermine the financial support which enables the military to continue its operations. 

“The situation in Myanmar is horrific and worsening since the brutal and illegal military junta took power on February 1. More than 500 people have been deliberately killed by junta forces and many more have been detained and tortured. We call for Australia to take urgent action against the Myanmar military junta and their companies, including targeted sanctions against military businesses and their significant associates”, Yadanar Maung told us. 

Adani Ports have previously denied links to the Myanmar military. “It has been put on notice publicly by the UN on several occasions. At each turn it has denied or obfuscated its commercial operations in Myanmar”, Rawan Arraf said.

Read the full report from the Australian Centre for International Justice here: Adani Ports in Myanmar.

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Benjamin Murdoch

Benjamin Murdoch is a student of international relations and journalism at Macquarie University. He is passionate about art, languages and writing, and is interested in global human rights and environmental issues. He has also done campaign work for a number of NGOs.

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