Burma Partnership, Strengthening Cooperation for a Free Burma
Signup Now!
Join our mailing list for latest news and information about Burma.

Is Australia in breach of its arms embargo against Burma?

By Burma Campaign Australia  •  February 9, 2010

Burma Campaign Australia condemns the Australian Government’s decision to participate in a regional military exercise that includes Burma’s navy and questions if Australia is in breach of its arms embargo.

The Australian Navy is currently participating in a military exercise with 13 other countries in Indian waters.  Burma navy, an integral part of the country’s military, is also participating in this exercise.

Burma Campaign Australia’s spokesperson Zetty Brake questioned Australia’s participation in this navy exercise.

“Less than one year ago the Australian Government announced its support of a global arms embargo against Burma, and now we are participating in exercises that include a part of Burma’s military,” Ms Brake said.

“Australia has a long standing arms embargo against Burma’s military dictatorship – we would not sell them weapons, so why does the Australian Government think that it is acceptable to participate in military exercises with them?”

“DFAT has previously said Australia does not provide any training to Burmese military personnel. Given these military exercises, it would appear to us that Australia maybe in breach of its arms embargo.”

The 13 countries involved in these navy exercises are Australia, Bangladesh, Brunei, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam.

The exercises cover a range of issues such as piracy, terrorism and disaster relief.

Ms Brake said the military dictatorship is the biggest disaster in Burma.

“The military attacks innocent civilians destroying entire villages, systematically violates human rights, imprisoned Burmese citizens providing aid following Cyclone Nargis and stops life saving humanitarian aid from reaching people in eastern Burma,” Ms Brake.

“The military dictatorship will never allow Burma’s navy to use the skills gained from these exercises to help the people of Burma and Australia would be naive, at best, to believe that,” Ms Brake said.

“Yesterday Foreign Minister Stephen Smith talked about sending a confusing signal to Burma’s military dictatorship.  What message is Australia’s participation in these military exercises sending to Burma’s millions of oppressed men, women and children?”

For an interview please contact Zetty Brake on 0416289235

Download DFAT’s comments

Tags: ,

This post is in: Press Release

Related Posts
Trade Unions Call on ASEM to Act on Burma
ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Myanmar Caucus (AIPMC) is outraged by the election laws recently announced by the military government of Myanmar