Supporting the Struggle in Myanmar

House of Representatives 23/02/2021

Mr KHALIL (Wills) (13:30): Today I rise to speak on the ongoing struggle occurring on the streets of Myanmar. We’ve seen mass demonstrations after the Tatmadaw staged a military coup earlier this month, and arrested the country’s elected leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, and members of her party, the NLD. Protesters have described scenes reminiscent of war zones, with police and soldiers using increasingly violent methods in attempting to squash the protests. On Sunday, in the capital, hundreds of people attended the funeral of Mya Thwate Thwate Khaing, a young woman who has become a symbol of resistance after being shot in the head while protesting. On Saturday, two more protesters died after police opened fire in the city of Mandalay. The Myanmar military warned teenagers and youths that they would ‘suffer loss of life’ if they protested.

We must not turn a blind eye to the struggle. We must support these young people who are fighting to keep democracy alive. I’ve already called publicly for Australia’s military cooperation with the Tatmadaw to be suspended. We should tighten targeted sanctions on Myanmar’s military leadership and their families. We should offer a Hawke-style amnesty to Myanmar students already in Australia. As Labor’s shadow foreign minister has said, we need to put Australian values, like respect for human rights, at the centre of our foreign policy. I agree with her—and with brave protesters putting their lives on the line for democracy and freedom in Myanmar. As representatives in a democracy, we must stand side by side with them.