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Australia Suspends Defence Cooperation Ties with Myanmar

Australia has suspended its defence ties with Myanmar because of the military takeover of the government, announced the government on March 7. Australia announced it will redirect its efforts towards humanitarian aid.

Australia announced on March 7 that it had suspended a defense training program with Myanmar worth about 1.5 million Australian dollars ($1.2 million) over five years. The program had been restricted to non-combat areas such as English-language training. Instead it will focus on the immediate humanitarian needs of the most vulnerable and poor in Myanmar including the Rohingyas and other ethnic minorities. Australia has already placed an arms embargo and placed sanctions over several individuals.

“We continue to review our sanctions regime,” said Ms Payne in a statement released by Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

“We continue to strongly urge the Myanmar security forces to exercise restraint and refrain from violence against civilians,” read the statement.

This action comes after Myanmar detained an Australian citizen Sean Turnell was detained earlier this February. Australia’s Foreign Minister Marise Payne said that Australian diplomats only had access to economic policy adviser Sean Turnell twice since he was detained. She described the access as “very limited consular support.” 

“We continue to absolutely call for the release of Professor Sean Turnell,” said Foreign Minister Mairise Pyne speaking to the Australian media.

She further added “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.”