Australia to appoint no ambassador to Myanmar amid moves to cut diplomatic ties

Australia is cutting diplomatic ties with Myanmar to legitimize the military junta that seized power and violently suppressed protests in the Southeast Asian country.

Most important points:

The new Australian representative in Myanmar will act as the head of the mission titled Charge d’Affaires. The decision has been welcomed by human rights groups and the country’s political opposition. Australia is still trying to secure the release of detained Australian Sean Turnell.

The ABC has learned that a senior official from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) has been selected to replace former Ambassador to Myanmar Andrea Faulkner, who ended her term in office in April.

But the new Australian representative – who has not yet been authorized to travel to Myanmar – will not present her credentials to the head of the junta and will instead act as head of the mission with the title of Chargé d’affaires.

Australian officials are walking a thin line with the strategy.

DFAT hopes it will enable them to deploy an experienced officer capable of defending Australia’s interests in Myanmar without formally recognizing the legitimacy of the military, which has deposed the elected National League for Democracy government.

Several other Western countries are trying to cut ties with Myanmar similarly, but human rights groups — many of which have strongly criticized Australia’s decision not to hit the military junta with new sanctions — still applaud the move.

Phil Robertson, deputy director of Human Rights Watch Asia, told ABC that Australia’s dealings with the junta had been largely ineffective because officials were too quick to meet with military leaders and too slow to increase economic and diplomatic pressure on the regime…

He said denying full recognition was “an indication that Australia would finally be willing to show some teeth” in its diplomatic contacts with the military.

“This is an important step, it’s a symbolic step, but it’s something that… [will] arouse anger and sadness [in] Myanmar’s military junta because they want to be internationally recognized,” he said.

“So this denial is an important step in saying ‘your coup is illegal and the violations of rights you are committing are outrageous and unacceptable’.”


The exiled civilian-led government of Myanmar’s National Unity (NUG) also praised the decision.

Dr. Tun-Aung Shwe – who represents the NUG in Australia – said it would “strengthen Myanmar’s people’s confidence in Australia”.

“We all know that the junta has always promoted and exploited diplomatic opportunities for its own sake to claim to be recognized by international governments and communities,” he told ABC.

“It is very welcome that the Australian government understands this situation well and avoids conveying any sense of legitimacy to the military rule in Myanmar.”

However, the strategy still carries risks.

Australia wants to retain access to senior members of the junta — in part to push for the release of imprisoned Australian academic Sean Turnell — though human rights groups have repeatedly stated that such gatherings are futile and risk military leaders who illegally seized power. To elevate.

Sean Turnell (right) was arrested in Yangon five days after Myanmar’s military overthrew the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi. (included)

Australian officials say they must take every opportunity to push for the release of Mr. Turnell and urge the most influential members of the junta to implement the five-point consensus devised by ASEAN to address the political crisis in Myanmar to deal with.

Former Australian Ambassador Andrea Faulkner met with junta leader Min Aung Hlaing just before she left the country in April.

DFAT Deputy Secretary Katrina Cooper told Senate Estimates hearings last month that Ms. Faulkner “reiterated Australia’s concerns about the situation in Myanmar” during a meeting with Min Aung Hlaing, urging Myanmar’s military “to end the violence.” strike, release arbitrary detainees, engage in dialogue and ensure unimpeded access for humanitarian aid”.

Ms. Cooper said the ambassador also “called on the regime to release those arbitrarily detained in Myanmar, including Professor Sean Turnell”.

Given the decision to effectively cut diplomatic relations, it is unclear how much access or purchase Australia’s new representative will have within the political system in Myanmar.

Other countries trying to navigate the process of replacing their top diplomatic representatives have become mired in complex disputes over protocol and procedure.

For example, the new ambassador to the United Kingdom has been banned from Myanmar after he refused to provide his credentials to the regime.

But Mr. Robertson said Australia’s diplomatic engagement with the junta had been “highly predictable” thus far, praising access over actual results.

A DFAT spokesman said it would appoint a “senior career officer with ambassadorial experience to the region” as charge d’affaires for Myanmar.

Dorothy R. Barrett

I’m a full-time blogger by passion. This is my first blog, and I'm excited to share everything that I love about technology, business, and lifestyle with you. I’m a writer by trade, and I can be found writing about tech, business, and lifestyle on my personal blog.

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