Justice for Myanmar accuses a company operated by Vietnam’s Ministry of Defense of helping the Burmese military junta spy on military defectors and civilians.
A new investigation published on June 14 from leaked documents shows that Mytel – a company run by the army of General Min Aung Hlaing, actively encourages soldiers to use this telecommunications network service.
Viettel International Investment Corporation, a subsidiary of Viettel Military Industry and Telecommunications Group, has a 49% stake in Mytel.
According to Justice for Myanmar, in recent years Mytel employees have spread out to military units to bribe the commanders in order to force soldiers of these units to buy sims of Mytel.
Mytel employees are said to collect military data, including name, rank, and army number, with the support of commanders, and these leaders, receive financial incentives to ensure soldiers and their officers regularly make deposits to their Mytel accounts.
Besides developing customers in the military, Mytel also set up a marketing campaign to recruit customers in the civilian sector such as banks, businesses, and government employees at all levels, from the ministerial level to the commune level.
According to an analysis of the Myanmar Investment Commission’s proposal, the Myanmar military is expected to gain more than $700 million over 10 years from Mytel, to fund continued war crimes and crimes against humanity, the report said.
In an email interview with Radio Free Asia, Yadanar Maung – a spokesman for Justice for Myanmar said that the Mytel company was the product of systematic corruption of the military including General Min Aung Hlaing and other military officials.
“In search of profit, military generals have entrusted the Vietnamese Ministry of National Defense with access to military secrets, including personnel data and access to military bases.
This is data that wasn’t even available to the former National League for Democracy-led government or the parliament the military tried to bring down.
The data includes names, ranks, and military numbers at the national level, organized by military bases, and personal data of the majority of Myanmar military personnel.”
Additionally, the organization activists group campaigning for justice and accountability for the people of Myanmar added that Viettel continues to have access to military infrastructure, including the Burma army’s mobile phone tower and fiber-optic network.
“While Vietnam is an ally of Myanmar’s junta, Viettel and the Vietnamese Ministry of National Defense can use and abuse this data if they wish, including for their own national interests.
The Myanmar military’s genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity are supported by Viettel’s business with Myanmar Economic Corporation.
We call for immediately targeted sanctions against Telecom International Myanmar, which owns Mytel, as well as Viettel Global Investment,” Justice for Myanmar said in its email sent to Radio Free Asia.
We also emailed Viettel to ask them to comment on this report but did not immediately receive a reply.
After the military coup and arrest of leader Aung San Suu Kyi last February, many soldiers and police defectors joined the civil disobedience movement.
However, due to using Mytel’s phone sim, they are still tracked by the military authorities. Therefore, this organization urges the people and soldiers to destroy the Mytel sims before defecting.