Senate debates

Tuesday, 9 May 2023

Statements by Senators

Human Rights: Myanmar

1:51 pm

Photo of Dean SmithDean Smith (WA, Liberal Party, Shadow Assistant Minister for Competition, Charities and Treasury) Share this | Hansard source

Australia cannot allow the Burma conflict to become the forgotten conflict. A few weeks ago I took myself privately to India, to Delhi, and I thank those people that gave up their time to meet with me so I could understand and see firsthand the geopolitical consequences of Burmese refugees being forced into India as a result of the continued military atrocities and human rights violations that are happening in Burma. This is the time for Australia to step up its contribution, to better support the UNHCR in the north-east region of India, to provide better humanitarian assistance and to fast-track discussions about how we can provide alternative pathways for humanitarian aid, particularly in those regions of Burma that border countries like Thailand and India. The time to act is now. Seventeen thousand people have been arrested, including 381 children, and there are 13,000 people in detention and 17.6 million people in need of humanitarian assistance. The United Nations Security Council has called this a 'perpetual human rights crisis', and the United Nations Human Rights Council has said that the conflict has now 'opened frontlines that had long been at peace'. For refugees from Burma, Australia has had a strong and proud record of providing humanitarian assistance and pathways to our country, and that should not only continue but be increased. In coming weeks I hope to report on more of my discussions, but I'm looking for the Australian government to step up now and do more.


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