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Australian couple detained in Myanmar as they tried to flee the country

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Australian couple detained in Myanmar as they tried to flee the country | Thaiger

As violence continues after the Myanmar coup with the death toll now past 200, an Australian couple was detained as they were trying to leave the country on a relief flight, according to Agence France-Presse. They are now believed to be on house arrest.

Reports say Matthew O’Kane and Christa Avery ran a consultancy business in Yangon, the country’s largest city and the area where the military’s crackdown on anti-coup protesters has turned deadly. Marital law has been declared in some townships in Yangon.

Little has been reported about Matthew and Christa. The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said they are providing assistance, but no other information has been reported. Christa is also a Canadian citizen and Canada’s global affairs department said they are “providing consular services,” according to a report by the Australian Associated Press and Agence France-Presse.

Another Australian citizen in Myanmar was detained last month. Sean Turnell was an economic adviser to Myanmar’s State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi. The state counsellor along with other civilian politicians were detained by the military in last month’s coup. The military have said the government takeover was in response to a fraudulent election, although reports say Aung San had won the election in a landslide.

SOURCE: Guardian

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5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Das

    Monday, March 22, 2021 at 6:14 pm

    Stocking up on pawns / hostages.

  2. Avatar

    Roger Bruce

    Monday, March 22, 2021 at 7:35 pm

    Well now Australia and Canada have a chance to do something about this scum
    But will they be as weak as normal or show some guts
    Send in troops and get your people out USA would not hesitate
    Time will tell I guess they will try buy them back rather that show force
    Force is what is needed or this will only get worse as bullies get more confident and more power
    Not impressed about Thai military supplying rice to these scum…shows they are tared with the same stinking brush
    Good luck Thailand

  3. Avatar

    Issan John

    Tuesday, March 23, 2021 at 12:09 am

    “USA would not hesitate”

    Really? Where was that, Roger B?

    Successfully, that is …..

  4. Avatar

    David Mann

    Tuesday, March 23, 2021 at 7:24 pm

    Better to try and fail than to negotiate with terrorists. I’m sure Issan John will have no comprehension of just how difficult it is to covertly enter a country with sufficient manpower and hardware, accurately locate hostage possibly being held in various locations, overcome the people holding them while maintaining the safety of the hostages. Liberating them and then leaving the country without major casualties. The alternative is wholesale war such as Iraq which destroys a whole country and its infrastructure. Easy to sit in your hammock sipping your third large Chang and having a pop.

  5. Avatar

    J West

    Wednesday, March 24, 2021 at 9:36 am

    They call themselves consultants….OK….but why were these two picked as opposed to all the other expats who have left and we’re leaving on the same transport? We’re they perhaps “ organizers”? Were they perhaps “ facilitators organizing logistics for the so called demonstrators”? Find out who they were and what they were doing before allowing media to paint them as victims. It may turn out that ‘ agents provocateurs’ from many various NGO like stations were busy setting fires and police were right to detain them.

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Politics

PM Prayut will send Foreign Minister to Myanmar summit

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PM Prayut will send Foreign Minister to Myanmar summit | Thaiger
PHOTO: Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai will attend the ASEAN summit on Myanmar in place of the PM.

PM Prayut Chan-o-cha announced that he won’t attend the ASEAN summit regarding Myanmar, but will send Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai in his place. The summit, to be held in Jakarta this Saturday will address the increasingly dangerous situation in Myanmar where fear is growing that the ongoing protests against the February 1 coup could descend into civil war.

The meeting will be the first of national leaders, minus PM Prayut, as previous discussion of Myanmar has been between foreign ministers. Myanmar army leader Gen Min Aung Hlaing will attend the Myanmar summit, and the shadow government ousted by the coup has requested representation at the meetings as well.

Indonesia, stepping into a peacekeeping middleman role Thailand had played in the past, has been pushing to quell the growing crisis.

This time Thailand may be caught in the middle, with the Western world reevaluating its perception of the country. China and Russia’s tacit, if not financial, support of Myanmar’s junta, and Thailand’s hesitation in condemning the Burmese coup, shines a spotlight on Thailand’s own close relationship to China.

The lack of concrete condemnation of the Burmese junta, and possibly PM Prayut’s decision to skip the Myanmar summit, is also a reminder that the current Thai government also came into power in a coup 7 years ago. And the last year of young protests in Thailand calling for the repeal of lese majeste laws and a replacement of the current government further a realignment of the country’s perceived position on the scale of democratic freedom and authoritarianism.

Thailand is also closely connected to Myanmar not just by the geographic border, but also through 7 to 8 billion baht invested into the country. Behind only China first and Singapore second, Thailand is fearful of a complete collapse on their investments with trade shackled by civil unrest.

Exports fell 13% last year due to Covid-19, and are down another 15% in the first few months of this year and expected to fall even further. Thai business owners from manufacturing to massage shops are shuttering with staff refusing to work in the civil disarray while banking and trade have been throttled as well. Owners are calling for the Finance Ministry to restart trade assistance previously used from 2010 to 2015 before Burmese democracy.

On top of all these issues, sanctions from western nations may further cripple the Burmese economy. With Thailand’s close connections to Myanmar, and the spotlight on the situation growing globally, Foreign Minister Don will face pressure to navigate the delicate situation at Saturday’s Myanmar summit in Jakarta.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post and Thai Examiner

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Crime

Burmese prisoners granted amnesty on first day of Myanmar’s New Year

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Burmese prisoners granted amnesty on first day of Myanmar’s New Year | Thaiger

Over 23,000 Burmese prisoners and student political activists are enjoying freedom after being released yesterday in an amnesty on the first day of the country’s Lunar New Year celebrations. The state-owned MRTV reported that 23,407 prisoners were released under sections of a penal code. In the Yangon region alone, over 800 prisoners were released, while Mandalay saw around 2,800 released from 5 prisons.

But, with the recent military crackdown on protesters and civilians, the law’s ambiguity may be used against those released. As the law allows for the conditional release of prisoners, that means authorities can re-arrest the prisoners without warrant at any time.

Zayyar Lwin, Paing Ye Thu and Paing Phyo Min were among the released student political activists. The 3 were arrested for writing political Thingyan poems and rhymes. They were arrested under Section 505(a) of the penal code and Section 66(d) of the Telecommunications Law, both of which are regarded by many as draconian tools to oppress dissent.

The junta-led State Administration Council also issued a statement releasing 130 foreign prisoners under the same conditions. There have been 2 other mass releases since the coup. The first was in mid-February, which rights groups feared was a move to free up space for military opponents, and the second on the eve of Armed Forces Day when the regime released around 900 detained demonstrators.

But prisons continue to fill up as more than 3,100 people, mostly anti-coup protesters have been detained. The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners has been keeping track of detainees as well as injuries and deaths allegedly at the hands of the junta. It is stil unclear, however, if those released yesterday were post-coup detainees.

Meanwhile, the Burmese military leader, Gen Min Aung Hlaing, is expected to attend an ASEAN summit in Jakarta where representatives of the bloc are expected to discuss Myanmar’s situation. Thailand’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, Tanee Sangrat, made the announcement.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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Politics

Myanmar junta leader to attend ASEAN summit, activists appalled

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Myanmar junta leader to attend ASEAN summit, activists appalled | Thaiger
Stock photo via Wikimedia Commons

Myanmar’s junta or military leader, Min Aung Hlaing, is expected to attend an ASEAN summit in Jakarta where representatives of the bloc are expected to discuss Myanmar’s situation. Thailand’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, Tanee Sangrat, made the announcement.

“I can confirm that the Brunei Chair has proposed the date April 24 with the venue at the Secretariat in Jakarta. Several leaders have confirmed their attendance including Myanmar’s MAH [Senior General Min Aung Hlaing]. Some leaders have yet to confirm.”

The military has consistently justified the putsch by alleging widespread fraud in November’s elections, which Suu Kyi’s party won in a landslide.

The country’s New Year started yesterday, but it was a somber scene as activists traded celebrations for more protests. According to an AFP-verified video filmed by a resident, the New Year holiday saw soldiers crouched on a street as their commanding officer shouted that he wanted “deaths.” A rescue worker told AFP at least 1 person had died.

“He was shot in the stomach.”

The junta has also issued nightly arrest warrants on state-run media, targetting celebrities, influencers, journalists and prominent activists with large social media followings. Doctors refusing to work under the regime — leaving hospitals unstaffed in a pandemic — have also drawn the wrath of the junta. By last night, the arrest warrants totalled 420.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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