Revealed: Adani’s ties to Myanmar junta

April 9, 2021
Photo: Stephen Hass CC_by_2.0/Flickr

The Australian Centre for International Justice (ACIJ) and Justice For Myanmar (JFM) has found that Adani Ports paid about US$52 million to Myanmar’s military junta to build a container port in Yangon. Moreover, it has also found that the Australian government has millions invested in Adani Ports.

The Future Fund, set up in 2006 to “strengthen the Australian government’s long-term financial position” has $3.2 million invested in the Adani subsidiary.

Ports of Complicity: Adani Ports in Myanmar, released on March 30, published leaked documents revealing the details of Adani Ports’ contract with the Myanmar military owned and operated company, Myanmar Economic Corporation (MEC).

Adani Ports, also known as Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone Limited (APSEZ), is an Adani group subsidiary with interests across South East Asia.

Ports of Complicity revealed that in 2019, Adani Ports paid a minimum of US$30 million in land lease fees and a further US$22 million in land clearance fees to the MEC.

In 2019, the UN Human Rights Council’s International Independent Fact-Finding Mission to Myanmar revealed that the MEC is owned and directed by high-ranking military officials, including the Commander-in-Chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing and Deputy Commander-in-Chief, Vice Senior General Soe Win.

Moreover, the UN revealed that the Myanmar military is directly funded by the MEC. This means that revenue raised by the MEC supports crimes, including genocide, committed by the Myanmar military, including the February 1 coup.

The UN urged the international community to sever ties with military-owned and operated businesses. Moreover, it instructed international businesses to “conduct heightened due diligence to ensure it is not otherwise causing, contributing to or directly linked to the many international human rights and international humanitarian law violations in the area perpetrated by the Tatmadaw [Myanmar Military].”

It said foreign investors, such as Adani Ports and the Malaysian oil and gas company PETRONAS, that continue to accept contracts with Myanmar military companies are not only complicit in its human rights abuses but also in the February coup. At least 564 people have been killed since then.

Adani Ports has protested its innocence, denying any long-term involvement with the Myanmar military. However, Ports of Complicity reveals photos of Adani Ports not only conducting business with the MEC, but ingratiating itself with the Myanmar military.

In one photo, Adani CEO Karan Adani is seen exchanging gifts with the Commander-in-Chief of the Myanmar military, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, an accused war criminal when he was touring Adani Ports headquarters in Mundra, India, in July 2019.

This tour was organised after Adani Ports committed to a 50-year contract with the MEC to develop its port in Yangon. It took place as targeted sanctions were placed on Min Aung Hlaing for his role in the Rohingya genocide.

Ahsan Ul-Haque from the Australian-based Burmese Rohingya Community is calling on Adani Ports to immediately divest from the junta.

“Images of Adani Ports hosting the Senior General Min Aung Hlaing in Mundra, India less than two years after the General led a campaign of ethnic cleansing against my people shows that Adani Ports is willing to disregard human rights in pursuit of business profits,” he said.

Adani has repeatedly denied any connection between Adani Ports operations in Myanmar and Adani’s operations in Australia.

However, as Ports of Complicity notes, already last September the ABC exposed that Adani Ports owns the Bowen Rail Company which will haul coal from Adani’s controversial Carmichael mine in Queensland.

The authors of Ports of Complicity mapped the corporate connections between Adani Group subsidiaries and found strong connections between Adani’s Myanmar and Australian operations. For example, at least one company director oversees three Adani Ports entities in Australia, Myanmar and Singapore respectively.

Ports of Complicity criticised Adani’s failure to respect human rights and warns that “if Adani Ports and other significant foreign business associates refuse to disengage from their ties to the MEC or MEHL [Myanmar Economic Holdings Limited], they should be considered in any targeted sanctions measures.”

The report is recommending that the UN and governments divest from the MEC and other Myanmar military companies, including the MEHL.

It also advocates divesting from Adani Ports and recommends that the Australian government should “reconsider licenses issued to Adani Group companies in light of Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone Ltd’s failure to disengage with MEC and the Myanmar military”.

Rawan Arraf, ACIJ Executive Director, said: “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.”

The federal government needs to break any contract with Adani or Adani Ports while it aids and abets a genocidal regime.

As a former member of the UN Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar and a current member of the Special Advisory Council for Myanmar, Chris Sidoti put it: “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.”

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