14 September 2021

Labor condemns the military coup of 1 February and the subsequent killings of thousands of civilians by the Tatmadaw in ongoing protests.


This was a direct attack on Myanmar’s ongoing democratic transition. We’ve seen widespread arrests of politicians, activists and media representatives.


These actions by the Tatmadaw are unacceptable and the Myanmar security forces must cease their violence, ensure the right to peacefully protest and engage in dialogue with the people of Myanmar. We also call on the authorities to release all political prisoners.


On 2 February Labor called for the Australian government to review its military cooperation with the Tatmadaw and over a month later this cooperation was suspended. We also called for targeted sanctions against those responsible for the coup.


In April Labor called on the Government to provide visa pathways for at-risk Myanmar nationals to remain in Australia. 


And once again, a month later the Government said those on temporary visas could apply to extend their stay. 


But the Morrison-Joyce Government has still not implemented any additional targeted sanctions against those responsible for the coup and human rights abuses in Myanmar. 


This is despite many of our likeminded partners taking strong actions against the coup. 


And this is despite the Government-chaired Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade in June recommending sanctions against the Tatmadaw, and the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties in August embarrassingly having to remind the Morrison-Joyce Government once again of the need to act.


The Morrison-Joyce Government’s refusal to implement any sanctions since the coup sends precisely the wrong message. 


That Australia does not care – that we are mere bystanders to democratic backsliding in our region. 


Labor will always stand up for human rights and democracy.


Our plan to introduce Magnitsky-style sanctions in government is a vital tool to send a strong message to those that continue to commit human rights violations around the world.


Australia needs to work with allied and aligned nations, including in our region, to send the strong message that democracy must be returned to Myanmar.


It is past time for the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister to act in support of Myanmar’s democracy – to implement targeted sanctions and support the people and democracy of Myanmar. 


Labor is deeply concerned by the detention of Australian citizen Sean Turnell in Myanmar. We have raised his situation with the Office of the Foreign Minister.


We stand with the Australian government in calling for the release of all political prisoners detained in the wake of Myanmar’s military coup, including Mr Turnell.