Australia has suspended its defense cooperation program with Myanmar, Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne said, amid an intensified crackdown by the country’s military on massive protests against last month’s coup.
According to reports, statement by Payne late Sunday indicates that Australia will redirect immediate humanitarian needs to 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,” Payne said.
Australia bilateral defence ties with Myanmar’s military are restricted to non-combat areas such as English language training. Canberra will 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.