The Burmese Military Council uses the Israeli-Canadian lobby to “explain” the coup

Riot police intervene to disperse demonstrators during a demonstration in Yangon on March 7, 2021.

STR / Associated Press

Getting to power Myanmar It hired an Israeli-Canadian lobbyist who recently investigated the Royal Canadian Mounted Police regarding his activities in Sudan to help “explain” why the military staged a coup against the country’s democratically elected government last month.

The March 4 contract seen by The Globe and Mail provides for Ari Ben-Menashe and his company to be detained in Montreal, Dickens and Madson (Canada), by the junta to put pressure on the United States and other foreign governments “to help explain the real situation in the country” after the coup. The document was signed by the master. Ben-Menashe and the Burmese junta-appointed defense minister, General Mia Ton O.

Angela Savard, a spokeswoman for Canadian Global Affairs, said the department was aware of the deal and said the contract may violate Canadian law. General Mia Ton O is one of nine people sanctioned by Canada after the February 1 coup, making it illegal for any Canadian to deal with him.

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“We are aware of reports from a Montreal-based company that may be in violation of the Special Economic Measures (Burma) regulations,” Savard said in an email response to questions from The Globe. “Avoiding Canadian sanctions is a criminal offense. All persons in Canada and Canadians abroad must adhere to the strict penalties imposed by Canada.

Myanmar’s generals came to power three months after elections that saw an allied military party overwhelmingly defeated by Aung San Suu Kyi and the National League for Democracy. Ms Suu Kyi and her ally President U Win Myint, who have shared power with the military since 2015, are being held in an unknown location after the coup.

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The contract stipulates that Ben-Menashe and his ministers have been appointed “to put pressure on the executive and / or legislative powers of the United States, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.” [the United Arab Emirates]And Israel and the Russian Federation … as well as the United Nations, the African Union, international organizations and non-governmental organizations on behalf of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar. The contract does not specify how much Mr. Bin Menasheh and his company will pay for their efforts.

Ben-Menashe told The Globe that the contract was for a year to help the SCAF “get out of sanctions and explain its position generally to the world.” In a telephone interview, he said that the military is “very interested in approaching the US government.” In a separate interview with Reuters, he said the military believed Suu Kyi was too close to China.

Ben Menashe said he does not believe his company is violating the sanctions imposed on Myanmar. He said his company will not be paid for his work in Myanmar until the sanctions are lifted.

Of the Canadian government, he said, “Leave us alone and let us do our work.”

A spokesman for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police headquarters in Ottawa confirmed on Sunday that he was aware of the reports but was unable to provide information on any investigations.

News of the decade, which was first published on the Washington website, Immediately received the condemnation of the country’s pro-democracy movement.

“We are shocked that Ari Ben-Menashe has been appointed as a lobbyist for the Myanmar Criminal Military Council. “Ari is not only trying to hide the reputation of these killers, but he will do so with money stolen from the people of Myanmar,” said Yadanar Munj, spokesperson for Justice for Myanmar, a group of activists who organized themselves to oppose.

We call on the Canadian government to take immediate action against all companies that have business relationships with the military.

Mr. Ben Menashe, a 69-year-old former Israeli intelligence officer, has repeatedly raised controversy during his long career as a private businessman. He was imprisoned in the United States in 1989 for trying to sell a military aircraft to Iran, but was later released because a judge accepted his defense on instructions from the Israeli government.

He also worked with Myanmar’s generals. The Globe reported in 2003 that Mr. Ben-Menashe tried to pressure the Canadian government on behalf of the former military council that ruled the province until 2015. That year, a new, semi-democratic constitution came into effect. Have been detained. . Among the most recent agents of Ben-Menashe are the former regime of Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe, the dissident Libyan General Khalifa Haftar, and the new military government in Sudan.

In 2019, the federal government asked the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to investigate whether Ben Menashe’s work in Sudan violated Canadian sanctions, which prohibit the sale of all types of weapons in the country. The United Nations has also launched a separate investigation to determine whether the deployment of 1,000 Sudanese soldiers – sent to Libya to assist dissident General Haftar’s campaign to seize the capital of Tripoli – is linked to the $ 6 million payment that Ben Menashe received from Sudan. .

Mr. Ben Menashe told the Globe on Sunday that he was acquitted of any wrongdoing by both the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the United Nations investigations.

In his 2020 documents submitted under the United States Foreign Agents Registration Act, Mr. Ben Menashe appointed Sudan’s ruling military council, the government of Kyrgyzstan and the West Papua United Liberation Movement between the present-day Dickens and Madson.

In Myanmar, protests erupted on Sunday for the 34th day in a row and unions across the country called on their members to strike and paralyze the economy. “Now is the time to act in defense of our democracy,” the unions said in a joint statement.

Police have reportedly used tear gas, stun grenades and live bullets to stop protests in various cities. At least 50 people were killed as the army repeatedly used force in an attempt to quell the uprising.

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