Australia must cut all business and military ties to Myanmar coup regime

The Socialist Alliance strongly condemns the February 1 military coup in Myanmar/Burma and the detention of Aung San Suu Kyi and other leaders of the National League for Democracy (NLD), that won 83% of the vote in the general election last November.

We call on the Australian government to deny any recognition to the coup regime.

The Socialist Alliance, along with other progressive and democratic forces around the world, has been critical of the Suu Kyi government during its last five years in office, especially for its complicity in the genocidal repression of the Rohingya people in Rakhine state.

However, the military coup is clearly an attempt by Myanmar’s military leaders — who have never really relinquished power — to roll back the limited democratic space that had been won by a long and painful people's struggle.

Since the coup, mass demonstrations have swept Myanmar. In response, the military has restricted the operation of social media platforms and intermittently closed down all internet access. It has also been using increasing force against the unarmed protesters.

The Civil Disobedience Movement in Myanmar has called for international sanctions targeting the military coup leaders and their families. Socialist Alliance supports this call.

Australian companies, including mining companies, are operating in Myanmar in partnership with local companies with links to the military. All Australian business links to such companies should be cut.

Australia also has a program of “military cooperation” with Myanmar. Programs like these with other repressive regimes in the region have included programs to train local military and police forces, and in the case of the military cooperation with Indonesia, even to train special forces notorious for human rights abuses against the people of West Papua.

The exchange of intelligence can also be a deadly component of such programs and are typically kept secret. The Australian government should make public any secret security of military relations it may have developed with Myanmar and terminate any such relations and all military cooperation immediately.

[Alex Bainbridge, Sam Wainwright and Sarah Hathway are the Socialist Alliance national co-convenors.]

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