Australia to continue to train Myanmar military despite genocide accusations Report

first_imgRohingya refugee. Photo: Syful-IslamThe Australian defence department plans to spend almost $400,000 for members of the Myanmar military in 2017-18 despite accusations by United Nations and rights groups that Myanmar army was involved in severe human rights violations in its treatment to Rohingya minorities in Rakhine state, a report of UK’s Guardian newspaper revealed.The report published on Monday said that Australian defence department will spend the money on English lessons, event attendances and training courses for members of the Myanmar army.The report claimed that they obtained the documents released under freedom of information laws.United Nations human rights Commission and rights groups Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International on several occasions accused Myanmar army of rights violation in Rohingya crisis which is a textbook example of ethnic cleansing.On Tuesday, the UN Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Andrew Gilmour said that while the level of violence had been reduced, murder, rape, torture, abductions as well as forced starvation continued.  Nearly one million Myanmar’s Rohingya nationals are residing in Bangladesh now as they fled their homeland facing persecution.  A UN human rights investigator Yanghee Lee has said the situation bears “the hallmarks of a genocide”.The Guardian report also said that in 2017-18 Australian defence department will spend $398,000 (a $126,000 increase on last year’s spending) on English lessons and on funding Myanmar’s participation in the Pirap Jabiru multilateral military exercises in the region that Australia cohosts with Thailand.It said that Myanmar’s leader Aung San Suu Kyi is due to visit Sydney this month for the Asean-Australia special summit.The report said that the US, UK, Canada, France and the EU have cut ties with Myanmar’s military over the Rohingya crisis.Amnesty International’s crisis campaigns coordinator Diana Sayed was quoted by the Guardian that the Australian government’s strategy of continued engagement and careful diplomacy cannot be justified given the extent and extremity of the crisis.“This business as usual approach is unacceptable, and is only going to further damage Australia’s international reputation, especially as Australia takes up its seat on the UN human rights council,” Sayed says. “The decisions of the US, the UK and the EU to cut military ties, and the recent sanctions imposed by Canada all show that Australia is out of touch with the rest of the world when it comes to this crisis,” Sayed  quoted as saying.“Australia’s bilateral defence engagement with Myanmar is limited to humanitarian and non-combat areas such as disaster relief, peacekeeping, aviation safety and English-language training,” a defence department spokesperson was quoted by Guardian newspaper as saying.last_img

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