Australia Suspends Bilateral Defence Cooperation Program with Myanmar's Military

    Wahyu Dwi Anggoro - 08 March 2021 11:09 WIB
    Australia Suspends Bilateral Defence Cooperation Program with Myanmar's Military
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    Jakarta: Australia has decided to suspend its bilateral defence cooperation program with Myanmar's military following the military coup in the Southeast Asian country.

    "Australia has raised our grave concerns about the military coup in Myanmar and the escalating violence and rising death toll following the events of 1 February. 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," said Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne in a statement on Sunday.

    "Australia has had a limited bilateral Defence Cooperation Program with Myanmar's military, restricted to non-combat areas such as English language training. This program will be suspended," she stated.

    As a supporter of Myanmar's democratic transition, Australia has been reviewing its Myanmar policy settings. Moreover, it has also undertaken extensive consultations with its international partners particularly ASEAN, Japan and India. 

    "Australia's development program is also being re-directed to the immediate humanitarian needs of the most vulnerable and poor including the Rohingyas and other ethnic minorities. We will prioritise the most pressing humanitarian and emerging needs and seek to ensure our humanitarian engagement is with and through non-government organisations, not with government or government-related entities, as is currently the case in some parts of the program," she stated.

    "Australia's autonomous sanctions regime already includes an arms embargo that prohibits supplying weapons to Myanmar and targeted sanctions on a number of individuals. We continue to review our sanctions regime," she added.

    Since 1 February, around 1,000 people have been detained by Myanmar's military. One of the detainees is Australian academic Sean Turnell, an adviser to Aung San Suu Kyi.  

    "Australian Professor Sean Turnell has been detained with limited consular access for over 30 days. We call for the immediate release of Professor Sean Turnell, State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, President Win Myint and others who have been arbitrarily detained since 1 February," she stated.

    "We call on the Myanmar regime to engage in dialogue. Australia will continue to play a constructive role, including in consultation with international partners, particularly ASEAN, in support of the Myanmar people," she concluded. 


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