The West Australian

Australia fires shot at military

- NAYPYITAW

Australia has suspended military co-operation with Myanmar and redirected aid to non-government organisati­ons in response to escalating violence after last month’s army coup.

Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne is continuing to call for the release of Australian academic Sean Turnell, who has been detained in Yangon for more than 30 days.

The Federal Government has raised grave concerns about the deadly protests that have occurred since the military seized power from democratic­ally elected Aung San Suu Kyi on February 1.

Two more demonstrat­ors were killed by authoritie­s with gunshot wounds to the head in Yangon yesterday.

“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,” Senator Payne said. “We continue to strongly urge the Myanmar security forces to exercise restraint and refrain from violence against civilians.”

Professor Turnell was an economics adviser to overthrown leader Ms Suu Kyi.

Senator Payne said the Government has only been able to contact him twice. “We regard that as limited consular support and we do seek more,” she said.

Australia is suspending its defence co-operation program with Myanmar’s military, which helped in non-combat areas such as English language training.

The United Nations said Myanmar’s security forces had killed more than 50 people to stamp out daily demonstrat­ions and strikes in the South-East Asian nation. More than 1700 people have been detained under the military junta.

Anti-coup protesters have started to flash a three-fingered sign of resistance, pictured, during demonstrat­ions.

Yesterday in Yangon, police fired stun grenades and tear gas at protesters before several people were hit by gunfire. “How inhumane to kill unarmed civilians,” one 20-yearold protester said. “We must have our right to protest peacefully.”

Protesters also gathered in other cities across the country, including Mandalay and Dawei.

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