Australia to continue military training in Myanmar despite ethnic cleansing allegations

Updated

September 29, 2017 17:09:53

Australia will continue its $300,000 military cooperation program with Myanmar despite allegations the army there has led a campaign of “textbook ethnic cleansing” against Rohingya Muslims.

A top UN human rights official criticised the nation’s “brutal security operation” against the Rohingya population earlier this month.

But an Australian Department of Defence spokesperson said it was working with the Myanmar military to “promote professionalism and adherence to international laws”.

“It is therefore important we maintain appropriate lines of communication with the Myanmar military to do this,” the spokesperson said.

“For this reason, our modest defence engagement with the Tatmadaw [Myanmar military] will continue, however we will review current and planned defence activities on a case-by-case basis.”

Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director of Human Rights Watch (HRW), criticised Australia’s military cooperation with Myanmar, formerly known as Burma.

“That’s an absolutely appalling response to what is clearly now crimes against humanity that are being committed by the Burma army against the Rohingya,” Mr Robertson said.

“Frankly, it shows the total abandonment of human rights as a core part of Australian foreign policy.”

The Rohingya are one of the world’s most persecuted peoples, according to the United Nations, and hold no civil or political rights in Myanmar.

Last week the United Kingdom suspended its own military assistance to the South-East Asian nation.

“We are very concerned about what’s happening to the Rohingya people in Burma … the military action against them must stop,” British Prime Minister Teresa May said.

“The British Government is announcing…

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