The Dominion Post

Authoritie­s investigat­e relatives of military junta

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The Department of Home Affairs has launched investigat­ions into relatives of Myanmar’s military government living in Australia, amid concerns they are either harbouring assets or receiving financial support in the wake of the military coup.

The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald can reveal there are at least 22 relatives of senior members of Myanmar’s new government living in Australia.

The Australian government was to also announce yesterday if it would extend the visas of Myanmar nationals so that they were not forced to return to the country in the wake of the coup.

Human rights advocates and Burmese Australian­s are calling on the Australian government to sanction members of the country’s armed forces – known as the Tatmadaw – after it staged a coup against the democratic­ally elected government, including its leader Aung San Suu Kyi, on February 1. They also want the government to cancel the visas of family members living in Australia who are being financiall­y supported.

Home Affairs has started looking into some Myanmar nationals living in Australia, including the son of a senior member of the military government. The Australian government will assess whether to cancel, or not renew, the visas of the individual­s, according to multiple sources who were not authorised to speak publicly.

A list prepared by a group of pro-democracy activists in Australia, which has been handed to the Morrison government, includes the names of 15 relatives of senior members of Myanmar’s military government who they believe may be benefiting financiall­y from their family back home.

The Morrison government is working on legislatin­g Magnitskys­tyle laws that would make it easier to sanction human rights offenders from entering the country and to seize their assets. The law would be modelled on a US Act, which was named after Sergei Magnitsky, a Russian lawyer who in 2008 uncovered a deep web of tax fraud linked to the Kremlin and later died in mysterious circumstan­ces in a Moscow prison. –

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