Thursday, 25 February 2021
I rise today to add my voice to that of other members in this House across this week to call on this government to revisit our response to the military coup in Myanmar that occurred on 1 February 2021. We know that this coup happened the day before the planned swearing-in of MPs elected in the November 2020 election. We know now that, for 25 days, people have been in detention, placed there by the military in Myanmar.
I rise today to call for an end to the shootings and for the restoration of the democratically-elected government. And I rise to call on our government to join other governments concerned about what is happening in Myanmar. I note that the US has announced new sanctions targeting the Myanmar generals behind the detention of the democratically elected leader, Aung San Suu Kyi. I note that New Zealand has suspended all high-level contact with Myanmar, imposed a travel ban on military leaders and vowed that its aid program would not support the military government. Yet our government, after having made a statement on 12 February, has been silent since.
I come this morning after meeting with members of the Australian Myanmar community in the House today. They will be having a gathering in front of Parliament House at 12 o'clock today. I rise to speak on behalf of the Myanmar community that I represent, who have established their lives and their futures in the electorate of Lalor. I've spoken to them across the week. They are incredibly concerned about what's happening in Myanmar, their former home. To contextualise that, there are people living in my community who came here after the previous two situations like this, having fled the city after the 1988 deaths and destruction and are being triggered, if you like, reliving traumas. We heard again today of people who were young children in 1988. I know how concerned my local community is about their families back in Myanmar, but I also know how determined they are that Myanmar return to democracy. This transition has been long, over many decades, and we cannot concede in this place. Because there was a coup so recently, there will be a long, long journey. This country needs to stand with its citizens here from Myanmar. We need to stand with our neighbour. This country needs to take action. I say to the government: please review our military cooperation with Myanmar and assist the people who live here and those in Myanmar.