Australia suspends defence ties with Myanmar over military coup

WION Web Team
Sydney, Australia Published: Mar 08, 2021, 05:33 PM(IST)

Australia's Foreign Minister Marise Payne and protesters in Myanmar Photograph:( AFP )

Story highlights

Foreign Minister Marise Payne said on Monday that Australian diplomats only had access to economic policy adviser Sean Turnell twice since he was detained in early February

The Australian government has suspended its defence cooperation with Myanmar and is redirecting humanitarian aid because of the military takeover of the government and ongoing detention of an Australian citizen.

Foreign Minister Marise Payne said on Monday that Australian diplomats only had access to economic policy adviser Sean Turnell twice since he was detained in early February.

"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," Payne said.

Australia had previously imposed sanctions including an arms embargo and sanctions targeting several individuals. These sanctions would continue to be reviewed, Payne said.

Australia bilateral defence ties with Myanmar's military are restricted to non-combat areas such as English language training.

Canberra will also continue to demand the immediate release of Sean Turnell, an economist and adviser to deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi, authorities said. Turnell has been detained with limited consular access since the Feb. 1 coup that overthrew Myanmar's elected government.

Hundreds of people gathered in Australia's largest city of Sydney over the weekend urging the Australian government to take a strong stance against the coup.

The Southeast Asian country has been plunged in turmoil after the army took over control of the country and detained elected leaders, with daily protests that the United Nations said had killed more than 50 people.

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

Myanmar's major trade unions have called on members to shut down the economy from Monday, as the country on Sunday witnessed one of the biggest days of protest.

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