2 Australians Freed From House Arrest in Burma
An Australian couple has been freed from house arrest in Burma, also known as Myanmar, and will be allowed to return to Australia without charge after being detained in the country for two weeks.
Christa Avery and her husband Anthony O’Kane—both business consultants in the country—were denied permission to leave the Asian nation in March after they were about to board their return flight to Australia.
Reuters reported that Avery said it had been a very stressful time for the couple, and they were pleased to be returning home to Australia.
“I am, of course, incredibly relieved to have been released and to be on my way home with my husband, Matt,” Avery said in a statement. “Even though I knew that I had done nothing wrong, it was very stressful being held under house arrest for 2 weeks.”
The news of the couple’s release comes as fellow Australian Sean Turnell, an economics advisor to ousted elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi, remains under arrest in Burma.
“I hope that even if Sean cannot be released very soon, he can, at least, be moved to house arrest for his physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing,” Avery said.
Turnell is currently under investigation by the military junta that seized power on Feb. 1. However, no formal charge has been made against him, although AAP has reported that he is facing charges under the Officials Secrets Act.
Australia’s Foreign Affairs Minister said on March 7 that the government had not been able to gain consular access to Turnell and called for his immediate release, along with the cessation of violence by the regime.
“We condemn the use of lethal force or violence against civilians exercising their universal rights, including the right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly,” Payne said. “We continue to strongly urge the Myanmar security forces to exercise restraint and refrain from violence against civilians.”
An estimated 2,667 people are currently being held in detention, and 564 people, including 43 children, have been killed by the Burmese military regime, reports the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) Burmese activist group.
However, the United Nations Security Council has been blocked from taking unilateral action against the junta by the Chinese communist regime despite U.N. Special Envoy to Myanmar Christine Schraner Burgener imploring the 15 member council to take action to stop what she described could become a multi-dimensional catastrophe in the heart of Asia.
Schraner Burgener also warned that a “bloodbath was imminent.”
The emergency meeting of the Security Council was called by the United Kingdom on March 29, which has said it is appalled by the increasing violence being witnessed in Burma.
Zhang Jun, the Chinese Communist Party’s permanent representative to the U.N. Security Council in explaining China’s position said that one-sided pressure on the military junta, calling for sanctions or other coercive measures, would only aggravate the country’s tensions and complicate the situation.
The CCP envoy said that China believes—out of respect for Myanmar’s sovereignty, political independence, territorial integrity, and national unity—that the international community should simply encourage dialogue that will “‘narrow differences” between the two sides.