Conflicts & War

Australia calls for release of Australian economist on trial in Myanmar

Bangkok, June 10 (EFE).- Australia requested Friday the release of the former Australian adviser to deposed Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi, Sean Turnell, the day after being accused by a court of disclosing official secrets in Myanmar.

In a statement, the Australian Foreign Office rejected the accusation against Turnell of violating the Official Secrets Act, a crime punishable by up to 14 years in prison, and said he is a respected professor who has worked for the development of Myanmar.

“Professor Turnell has been detained by the Myanmar Army for more than 16 months. He continues to be detained in Myanmar and we continue to call for his immediate release (…) We will continue to work for the interest and well-being of Professor Turnell and will not rest until he is released. except with his family,” the ministry said.

Last month, Australia decided to downgrade its diplomatic relationship with Myanmar by replacing its former ambassador with a business official, who has not yet been able to travel to the country.

Turnell was arrested shortly after the coup led by Gen. Min Aung Hlaing against the Suu kyi government on Feb. 1, 2021, which led to a military junta and plunged the country into a social, economic and political crisis.

The expert, adviser to Suu Kyi for economic affairs, was since 2017 director of the Institute for the Development of Myanmar, based in the capital Naypyitaw.

The army justifies the seizure of power on alleged fraud during the November 2020 elections, the results of which have been annulled and in which the party led by Suu Kyi, who also remains under arrest, won a landslide victory.

At least 1,924 people have died as a result of the violent repression by police and soldiers, who have shot to kill peaceful and unarmed protesters, according to data from the NGO Association for the Assistance of Political Prisoners, which figures detainees at more than 10,900.

The military coup caused the creation of armed civilian militias that have aggravated the conflict that the country has been experiencing for decades with various ethnic guerrillas. EFE


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