Australia’s Foreign Minister Penny Wong said sanctions might be imposed on Myanmar as its security and human rights situation deteriorates, although she did not suggest a timeframe.
Speaking in Thailand on Wednesday, Wong said the case of jailed Australian economist Sean Turnell was a “top priority”, according to Reuters.
The adviser to ousted State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has been in captivity since shortly after the February 2021 coup.
He was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment in September for allegedly possessing state secrets. Turnell denied the accusations.
After he was sentenced, Australia’s Ministry for Foreign Affairs rejected the ruling and called for his release. It said: “We will continue to take every opportunity to advocate strongly for Professor Turnell until he has returned to his family in Australia.”
Australia has imposed sanctions on individual generals but it has not added any sanctions since the 2021 coup, unlike other democracies.
In August the United Nations special envoy to Myanmar Noleen Heyzer asked regime leader Min Aung Hlaing to release the economist as a means to improve bilateral ties with Australia.
The junta chief replied that if Australia had taken a positive approach to Myanmar, the regime would not have needed to prosecute Turnell.
The regime has now killed more than 2,400 people while launching airstrikes on civilian areas and torching villages across the country.