Junta amnesty backflip concerns Australia


The Australian government is concerned about a backlash from the Myanmar junta, which is now trying to reverse the amnesty for an Australian professor.

Professor Sean Turnell arrived in Australia late last year after being detained in the South East Asian country for 650 days after the military took power in a 2021 coup.

But the junta is now withdrawing his amnesty and wants him to return to court.

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Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs summoned Myanmar’s chargé d’affaires to convey Australia’s concern over the backflip.

“The government is deeply concerned that the Myanmar authorities have revoked Professor Turnell’s amnesty and summoned him to appear before a Myanmar court,” a department spokesman said.

The 58-year-old economist worked as an adviser to Myanmar’s ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi and was sentenced to three years in prison for “violating the country’s official state secrets law”.

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It is a charge that the Australian government has always rejected.

“The Australian Government has never accepted the basis of Professor Turnell’s detention, nor the allegations against him,” the spokesman said.

“We are disappointed that he is now being asked to answer for an undefined crime following his release from detention.”

Australia has no extradition treaty with Myanmar.

Prof Turnell was released in November under an amnesty for nearly 6,000 prisoners to celebrate Myanmar’s National Victory Day.

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He was warmly welcomed by the Australian parliament in December after returning home and said he still wanted to return to Myanmar to help the people.



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