Myanmar’s Crisis & the World

Australia ‘Deeply Concerned’ Over Myanmar Junta Summons for Sean Turnell 

By The Irrawaddy 27 January 2023

The Australian government said it is “deeply concerned” after the Myanmar junta revoked a pardon for economist Sean Turnell and summoned him to appear before a court for criticizing the regime.

The junta released the Australian economist in November last year after jailing him for 650 days following the coup. He was convicted of violating the State Secrets Act after serving as economic adviser to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, whose National League for Democracy (NLD) government was ousted by the February 2021 military coup.

He was granted amnesty “in consideration of bilateral relations and on humanitarian grounds,” the regime said at the time of his release.

However, the pardon was revoked in December after Turnell criticized the junta in media interviews and social media posts.

“It is a tragic and terrible thing that the nicest people I have encountered anywhere are ruled over by such knaves and fools,” the economist wrote on Facebook soon after his release.

A leaked internal junta announcement at the time said Turnell “would have to serve the remainder of his sentence plus any new jail time should he commit another offense” for making false statements about Myanmar on social media and in media interviews while on probation. The revocation of the pardon was followed by the court summons.

Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said in a statement that the government is deeply concerned that Myanmar authorities have annulled Professor Turnell’s amnesty and issued a subpoena for him to appear in a Myanmar court.

Turnell was not available for comment on Friday.

He told The Irrawaddy in December that he would not comment further on the revocation “for fear of repercussions to friends and colleagues in Myanmar.”

“When time is right, I will respond very fully. It’s a real dilemma this one!!” he added.