Australia suspends military ties with Myanmar amid 'grave concerns' over escalating violence

Australia has suspended military co-operation with Myanmar and redirected aid away from government or government-related entities following a coup last month.

Australia has reminded New Zealand of the importance of the Five Eyes alliance during a meeting of trans-Tasman foreign ministers.

Australia has reminded New Zealand of the importance of the Five Eyes alliance during a meeting of trans-Tasman foreign ministers. Source: AAP

Australia has suspended military co-operation with Myanmar and redirected aid to non-government organisations in response to escalating violence following last month's military coup.

Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne is continuing to call for the release of Australian academic Sean Turnell, who has been detained in Yangon for more than 30 days.

The government has raised grave concerns about the deadly protests that have occurred since the military seized power from democratically elected Aung San Suu Kyi on 1 February.

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"We condemn the use of lethal force or violence against civilians exercising their universal rights, including the right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly," Senator Payne said in a statement on Sunday.

"We continue to strongly urge the Myanmar security forces to exercise restraint and refrain from violence against civilians."

Professor Turnell was an economics adviser to overthrown leader Ms Suu Kyi.

Senator Payne says the government has only been able to contact him twice.

"We do regard that as very limited consular support and we do seek more," she told ABC radio on Monday.

Sean Turnell is an economic advisor to Aung San Suu Kyi.
Sean Turnell (left) with Aung San Suu Kyi. Source: Facebook


Senator Payne said Australia had spoken to other countries, particularly regional neighbours such as Japan and India, about their own policies towards Myanmar.

Australia is suspending its defence co-operation program with Myanmar's military, which only helped with non-combat areas such as English language training.

"Australia's development program is also being redirected to the immediate humanitarian needs of the most vulnerable and poor including the Rohingyas and other ethnic minorities," Senator Payne said.



The United Nations says security forces have killed more than 50 people to stamp out daily demonstrations and strikes in the Southeast Asian nation since the military overthrew and detained Ms Suu Kyi.

Well over 1700 people have been detained under the military junta.

The United Nations are pleading military in Myanmar to back down from harming protesters demonstrating against the military coup.
Security forces have killed more than 50 people to stamp out daily demonstrations and strikes in Myanmar. Source: AAP


Amnesty International Australia has welcomed the federal government's decision but is calling for more targeted sanctions against senior officials.

"The Myanmar military has a well-documented history of violence and grave human rights violations," director Sam Klintworth said.

"Without justice and accountability, Myanmar's emboldened military will continue to trample human rights across the country."


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Published 8 March 2021 at 5:39am
Source: AAP,SBS