Bishop: Australia to retain military links with Myanmar despite Rohingya crisis

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop says Australia has no plans to cut its $400,000 funding deal with Myanmar's military.

Australia has dismissed calls to cut ties with Myanmar's military despite a push for its top security chiefs to face trial in the International Criminal Court.

Amnesty International is leading the push to have 13 of Myanmar's military and police officials put on trial for atrocities allegedly committed against Rohingya Muslims following a military crackdown that has forced more than 702,000 people to flee to neighbouring Bangladesh.

Amnesty has called on Australia to follow countries including the United States and Britain in cutting ties with Myanmar's military and place sanctions on the 13 security officials allegedly implicated in the murder, rape and torture of Rohingya people.

But Foreign Minister Julie Bishop says there are no plans to change Australia's relationship with Myanmar's military, which sees Canberra deliver $400,000 in funding to the Tatmadaw defence forces for training in humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, peacekeeping and English classes.

"Our defence engagement is strictly limited to non-combat areas such as disaster relief and English-language training, and is designed to help promote positive change in Myanmar, which is in Australia's interest," Ms Bishop said in a statement to AAP.

"We have an arms embargo on Myanmar and do not conduct joint exercises."

Rohingya Muslims flee from Myanmar to Bangladesh.
Source: AAP

Since the military crackdown began last August, the United Nations has described the situation as a "textbook case of ethnic cleansing".

Myanmar denies the accusations.

The European Union and Canada earlier this week imposed sanctions, including travel bans and asset freezes, on seven of Myanmar's senior military chiefs.

The sanctions also included an extended arms embargo and ban on training any, or cooperating with, Myanmar's defence forces.

Ms Bishop said Australia already has some sanctions in place in relation to Myanmar, but they could be extended.

"Our policy settings on Myanmar, including the possibility of targeted sanctions, are under constant review," she said.

Published 28 June 2018 at 7:22am, updated 28 June 2018 at 9:38am