Thailand is now the Myanmar junta’s favored banking destination as military attacks ramp up, UN expert says

Thailand is now the Myanmar junta’s favored banking destination as military attacks ramp up, UN expert says

Thailand Becomes the Preferred Banking Destination for Myanmar Military: A UN Expert’s Perspective

As ethnic violence continues to escalate in Myanmar, the military regime has reportedly been funneling their ill-gotten gains into Thai banks, making Thailand a preferred banking destination for the Myanmar military junta. According to

Yanghee Lee, the United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Myanmar

, this trend is a

concerning development

that highlights the deepening ties between the military and the financial sector in Thailand.

“The military’s increasing control over Myanmar’s economy, including its banking sector, is a

serious concern

, as it exacerbates the human rights abuses and impunity that have long plagued the country,” Lee stated in a recent interview.


Myanmar military

has been accused of numerous human rights violations, including the use of forced labor, sexual violence against civilians, and extrajudicial killings. The international community has condemned these abuses and imposed sanctions on the regime in response.

“However, despite these measures, the military continues to profit from various sources, including the sale of jade and rubies, timber exports, and the exploitation of natural gas reserves. The fact that they are now using Thai banks to launder these funds is a clear indication of the complicity of Thai authorities in this illegal activity,” Lee added.

“The UN has urged Thailand to take immediate action to freeze the accounts of known Myanmar military officials and their associates, and to investigate any suspicious transactions. However, without international pressure, it is unlikely that Thai authorities will take meaningful steps to address this issue,” Lee concluded.

“The situation in Myanmar is complex and requires a multifaceted approach. The international community must continue to condemn the military’s human rights abuses, impose targeted sanctions, and support democratic forces in Myanmar. At the same time, it is crucial that neighboring countries like Thailand do their part to prevent the military from using their financial institutions to launder ill-gotten gains and evade international sanctions,” Lee emphasized.

Thailand is now the Myanmar junta’s favored banking destination as military attacks ramp up, UN expert says

Understanding the Complex Relationship Between Myanmar’s Military Junta and Thailand: A Perspective for UN Experts

Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, has been grappling with political instability and military rule for decades. The

current political situation

is marked by the military junta’s increasing aggression against democracy activists, ethnic minorities, and the media. The military seized power in a

coup d’état

in February 2021, ousting the democratically elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi. Since then, the military has intensified its crackdown on dissent, using

violence and intimidation

to silence opposition.

Despite these troubling developments, there is an intriguing aspect of this story that is gaining increasing attention from the international community: Thailand‘s growing role as a banking hub for the Myanmar military.


economic relationship

between Thailand and Myanmar is long-standing. Both countries share a porous border, and Thailand has historically served as a gateway for Myanmar’s exports to the world. However, recent reports suggest that Thai banks are providing financial services to companies and individuals linked to the Myanmar military, in violation of international sanctions. This trend is raising concerns about the

human rights implications

of this economic relationship and the potential role that Thailand’s financial system could play in propping up the Myanmar military’s power and wealth.

From the perspective of a UN expert, it is crucial to understand this situation for several reasons. First, there are

human rights concerns

related to the military’s use of violence and intimidation against its own people, as well as the potential complicity of Thai banks in these abuses. Second, there are

international law implications

, given that the Myanmar military’s actions may constitute crimes against humanity and war crimes. Third, there are

regional security implications

, as the instability in Myanmar could spill over into neighboring countries, including Thailand. By shedding light on these issues, UN experts can help raise awareness and advocate for action to address the root causes of this complex situation.

Thailand is now the Myanmar junta’s favored banking destination as military attacks ramp up, UN expert says

Background: Myanmar’s Political Crisis and Escalating Violence

Overview of the military coup in February 2021 and its aftermath:

In February 2021, Myanmar’s military staged a coup d’état, overthrowing the democratically elected government and detaining State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Myint. The military, led by Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, justified the coup by alleging widespread election fraud in the November 2020 elections. The move plunged Myanmar into a political crisis and sparked protests and civil unrest across the country, with thousands of people taking to the streets in support of democracy.

Protests and civil unrest:

The protests were met with violence from the military and police, resulting in numerous deaths and injuries. Protesters called for the release of Aung San Suu Kyi and the restoration of democracy. Despite this, the military continued to crack down on demonstrations, escalating the crisis further.

Violence against civilians:

The violence against civilians continued to worsen, with reports of extrajudicial killings, forced disappearances, and torture becoming increasingly common. Thousands of civilians have been displaced from their homes due to the conflict, further exacerbating the humanitarian situation in Myanmar.

Escalating military attacks and their impact on Myanmar’s economy and people:

As the military escalated its attacks, infrastructure in various parts of the country was severely damaged, including banks and financial institutions. The damage to these essential facilities has disrupted economic activities and caused significant losses for businesses and individuals.

Displacement of civilians:

The displacement of civilians due to the violence has reached unprecedented levels, with hundreds of thousands estimated to have been forced from their homes. Many have sought refuge in makeshift camps, where they face dire living conditions and a lack of access to basic necessities such as food, water, and healthcare.

Damage to infrastructure:

The damage to infrastructure is not limited to financial institutions but also extends to transportation networks, hospitals, schools, and other essential facilities. This damage has made it difficult for aid organizations to reach those in need, exacerbating the humanitarian crisis in Myanmar.

International community’s response:

The international community has condemned the military coup and the violence against civilians, with the UN passing a resolution in March 2021 condemning the coup and calling for the immediate release of Aung San Suu Kyi and other detainees. Various countries have imposed sanctions on Myanmar’s military and its leaders in response to the crisis, while humanitarian aid efforts have been ramping up to address the needs of displaced civilians. However, despite these efforts, the situation in Myanmar remains volatile and uncertain.
Thailand is now the Myanmar junta’s favored banking destination as military attacks ramp up, UN expert says

I Thailand as a Preferred Banking Destination for Myanmar Military

Overview of the financial connections between Myanmar and Thailand:

Thailand and Myanmar share historical ties and robust economic interdependence, making the Thai financial sector a preferred destination for Myanmar’s banking needs. Historically, Thailand has served as a gateway to the international financial system for Myanmar, with Thai banks managing over $3 billion of Myanmar’s foreign exchange reserves prior to the coup in 202The proximity and cultural affinities between the two countries have facilitated this financial relationship.

Increased usage of Thai financial institutions by the Myanmar military since the coup:

Post-coup, the Myanmar military has increasingly relied on Thai financial institutions to manage their foreign currency transactions. Reasons for this preference include access to greater liquidity, less regulatory scrutiny in comparison to other countries, and the political stability that Thailand offers. However, these transactions raise concerns regarding potential money laundering or financing of terrorism activities.

The role of Thailand’s regulatory bodies in addressing these concerns and ensuring financial stability:

Thailand’s regulatory bodies, including the Bank of Thailand and the Anti-Money Laundering Office, play a crucial role in addressing these concerns and maintaining financial stability. They have implemented stringent measures to prevent illicit activities, such as Know Your Customer (KYC) regulations and Anti-Money Laundering/Combating the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) regulations. Continuous collaboration with international organizations and neighboring countries, like Myanmar, further strengthens Thailand’s ability to combat financial crimes and ensure the stability of its financial sector.

Thailand is now the Myanmar junta’s favored banking destination as military attacks ramp up, UN expert says

UN Expert’s Perspective:
Implications for International Community and Potential Responses

Analysis of the Implications

  1. Regional security concerns and potential escalation of conflict: The military coup in Myanmar could lead to regional instability, as neighboring countries such as Thailand and Bangladesh may be forced to deal with an influx of refugees or become involved in the conflict due to security concerns. The involvement of ethnic armed groups in Myanmar could further complicate the situation.
  2. Humanitarian implications and protection of civilians’ rights: The military coup could lead to a humanitarian crisis, as the UN has warned that up to 1.5 million people may be displaced and millions more could be at risk of food insecurity. The military’s violence against civilians, including reports of rape and extrajudicial killings, raise serious concerns about the protection of basic human rights.
  3. Legal aspects, including accountability for human rights violations and potential international sanctions: The military coup and subsequent violence against civilians could constitute crimes against humanity. The UN, regional organizations, and individual countries must hold those responsible accountable for these violations. International sanctions may be necessary to deter further military aggression in Myanmar and pressure the military to return power to the civilian government.

Recommendations for the UN, Regional Organizations, and Individual Countries

  1. Strengthening international cooperation on monitoring and documenting human rights violations in Myanmar: The UN, regional organizations, and individual countries should work together to monitor and document human rights violations in Myanmar. This could include increased support for independent journalists and human rights activists, as well as the deployment of UN peacekeeping forces if necessary.
  2. Increasing pressure on Thailand to address financial connections with the Myanmar military: There are reports that the Thai military has business ties with the Myanmar military, which could provide it with financial resources to continue its violent crackdown. The international community should pressure Thailand to sever these connections and take other diplomatic measures to ensure that it is not supporting human rights abuses in Myanmar.
  3. Exploring diplomatic and economic measures, such as targeted sanctions, to deter further military aggression in Myanmar: The international community should consider implementing targeted sanctions against individuals and entities in the Myanmar military responsible for human rights violations. Diplomatic measures, such as condemnation of the coup and pressure on the military to return power to the civilian government, may also be effective.

The Importance of a Coordinated International Response

A coordinated international response is essential to ensure accountability for human rights violations in Myanmar and maintain regional stability. The UN, regional organizations, and individual countries must work together to apply pressure on the military regime and support civil society efforts to restore democratic governance.