Myanmar Campaign Network (MCN) welcomes the release and safe return of Australian economist Sean Turnell after 22 months in Myanmar prison. While Professor Turnell is among the four foreign nationals and other political prisoners released yesterday, MCN urges the international community to recognise the Myanmar military’s self-proclaimed act of “goodwill between countries” as a tactic to generate support.

Although 5,774 prisoners were released in an apparent amnesty, 12,976 civilians arbitrarily arrested since the 1 February 2021 coup remain in prison. The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) was able to verify that 53 political prisoners were among those released and continue to monitor the situation.

During this time, the Myanmar military has continued to brutally attack civilians throughout the country. Heavy artillery was used in attacks on Wednesday in Rakhine state killing 10 civilians including children. Fighter jets and Russian-bought MI15 helicopter gunships have been attacking Tibual outpost in Chin State for 3 straight days. Since the coup the Myanmar military has destroyed 30,000 civilian properties, with the violence causing civilians to flee, with now over 1.4 million people internally displaced. 

Executive Officer of Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA, the international development organisation of the Australian trade union movement Kate Lee said, “We are delighted to know that Sean is finally safe, and we will continue to advocate for the freedom and rights of all political prisoners still behind bars.”

Myanmar Campaign Network campaign manager Tasneem Roc said, “We view this amnesty as a tactic, as the military regime attempts to legitimise itself in the eyes of the international community, while it continues to commit atrocity crimes. We must remember the over 12,000 prisoners who remain unjustly imprisoned in inhumane conditions, exposed to sexual, physical and mental torture, and death.”

MCN continues to call for targeted sanctions on the Myanmar military, its associates and its businesses to restrict the foreign revenue the junta uses to purchase arms, and hold perpetrators to account. MCN urges the international community to strengthen their support for the pro-democracy movement, including recognition of the legitimate government the National Unity Government (NUG).

Media Contact:
Myanmar Campaign Network
Tasneem Roc
+61 2 8203 6044

The Myanmar Campaign Network (MCN) is an Australian national coalition formed following the 2021 coup in Myanmar, comprising human rights organisations, international aid NGOs, Myanmar diaspora organisations, trade unions and faith-based organisations. This project is under the auspices of Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA.

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