Australian economist Sean Turnell released from prison in Myanmar

Amnesty International Australia welcomes reports today that Australian national Sean Turnell, who had recently been sentenced to three years in prison in Myanmar on charges of violating the Official Secrets Act, has been released from prison.

Commenting on Turnell’s release, Amnesty International Australia Impact Director Tim O’Connor said: “Like thousands of others languishing behind bars since the 1 February 2021 coup in Myanmar, Sean Turnell was denied a fair trial or adequate access to legal counsel and consular assistance and should never have been arrested or jailed.

“Amnesty continues to call for the release of all those arbitrarily detained for peacefully exercising their human rights.

“Thousands of people jailed since the coup in Myanmar have done nothing wrong and should never have been imprisoned in the first place.

“Myanmar has a history of releasing prisoners at politically opportune times. This announcement in the midst of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meetings in Thailand should not deter international focus from the brutality of the Myanmar military’s activities since the coup in February 2021.

“Under military rule in Myanmar, arbitrary arrests, unlawful detention and secretive, closed-door trials have become routine. Anyone who cannot be charged with a recognizable criminal offence under international law must be freed immediately.”

Background

Sean Turnell had been a longtime economic adviser to the civilian government in Myanmar, which was ousted in a military coup on 1 February, 2021. He lived and worked in Myanmar for many years.

Within days of the coup he was detained in Yangon, and was held in different prison facilities. On 29 September, he was convicted of violating the Official Secrets Act alongside Aung San Suu Kyi, who has faced numerous charges since her arrest at the beginning of the coup.

Myanmar’s military has arrested more than 16,230 people since the coup and has killed more than 2,400 according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners.

We want a world where human rights are no longer under fire. Governments and people in power everywhere must respect everyone’s basic freedoms, and allow their citizens to live safely, without fear. When human rights are attacked, Amnesty will call on the human rights abusers to be tried and brought to justice. Learn more about what we do and our crisis response work.

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