Open letter to Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong

June 29, 2022

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The Honorable Penny Wong
Minister for Foreign Affairs,
Parliament House,
Canberra ACT 2600

29 June 2022

Open letter to Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong from 688 civil society organisations

Re: Urgent change of course and action needed on Myanmar

Dear Minister Penny Wong,

We, the undersigned 688 Burma/Myanmar, regional and international civil society organisations, welcome your appointment as Foreign Minister and note the Australian Labor Party’s commitment to seek “strong and enduring relations with the people of Myanmar” when in government. We note your past comments that Australia “cannot be a bystander to a direct attack on Myanmar’s democracy” and your call for the Australian government “to take a stand” for democracy in Myanmar and to impose targeted sanctions. We acknowledge the Australian government’s commitment to appoint a Special Envoy for Southeast Asia and for increased aid to the region and to implement a ‘First Nations Foreign Policy’.

We are writing to urge you to hear our voices, as we struggle for a federal democratic Myanmar that upholds human rights for all and to protect Burma/Myanmar’s cultures, livelihoods and fragile ecosystems that are under dire threat by the illegitimate military junta.

Since the illegal coup attempt on February 1, 2021, the illegitimate junta has waged a terror campaign against the people of Myanmar, amid widespread and mass resistance. There have been more than 10,000 armed clashes, which include attacks on civilians through indiscriminate shellings and airstrikes, and over 2,000 people have been murdered by the junta. Around 440,000 people have been forcibly displaced since the coup attempt, as the junta carries out deliberate attacks, killing, torturing and raping, and destroying houses, villages and food supplies across the country. In Sagaing Region, the junta torched over 5,600 houses in February to April 2022 alone. The junta’s criminal conduct amounts to war crimes and crimes against humanity, which it commits with total impunity.

The junta has devastated the economy, which has shrunk around 30%, causing widespread food insecurity. The junta has weaponized telecommunications, ordering internet shutdowns in large swaths of the country, blocked access to information through censorship and targeted the people for surveillance. Journalists have been targeted with murder, arrest and torture, as well as doxing campaigns and the dissemination of hate speech and disinformation.

ASEAN is complicit in the junta’s terror campaign. Since the attempted coup, ASEAN has continued to legitimize the junta and ignore the voices of the people. Its failed Five-Point Consensus was agreed with the illegitimate junta alone, which has ignored its own pledge to implement it. ASEAN has repeatedly invited the junta to meetings, events and military training, providing cover for ASEAN members and Australia to engage with war criminals, emboldening their crimes in Australia’s name. The ASEAN Special Envoy on Myanmar defers to the illegitimate military junta and has failed to engage with Myanmar’s legitimate government, the National Unity Government (NUG), the National Unity Consultative Council (NUCC), Ethnic Revolutionary Organizations (EROs) and civil society.

The ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on disaster management (AHA Centre), an intergovernmental humanitarian disaster management body supported with Australian taxpayer funds, does not have the capacity to handle humanitarian aid in a conflict setting where the perpetrator and the clear aggressor is the partner in delivering aid. It is rather exacerbating the crisis in Burma/Myanmar by allowing the military to weaponize humanitarian aid, offering tactical and political advantage while lending legitimacy to the military junta who is the main perpetrator of violence that is leading to mass displacement. Civil society strongly rejects the AHA Centre’s divide-and-rule approach of meeting with EROs individually, and failure to engage with NUG, NUCC and civil society.

The Morrison Government fell shamefully short to live up to Australia’s values of and commitment to democracy and human rights. Your predecessor failed to impose targeted sanctions, failed to join efforts for international accountability, failed to recognize the National Unity Government (NUG) as the legitimate government and NUCC as the highest consultative body of Burma/Myanmar, and continually legitimized the junta through biliteral and multilateral engagement, including with Min Aung Hlaing. Australia’s Future Fund has maintained investments in businesses that provide arms and revenue to the Myanmar military junta, profiting from Myanmar’s destruction.

We therefore earnestly appeal to you to change course:

  1. Impose targeted sanctions against the Myanmar military junta, its businesses and all those responsible for grave human rights violations.
  2. Recognize and support the NUG as the legitimate government of Burma/Myanmar, and NUCC as the highest consultative body.
  3. Reject the illegitimate junta’s appointment of ambassador to Australia and accept appointments made by the NUG
  4. Do more to support the humanitarian crisis in Myanmar by delivering Australian aid cross-border through trusted local humanitarian and community-based organisations, in consultation with NUG, NUCC and EROs.
  5. Intervene in the International Court of Justice case against Myanmar to fully support accountability for the crime of genocide against the Rohingya.
  6. Take action to prevent Australian mining companies from continuing to explore and extract minerals, which are a source of revenue for the junta, and threaten ethnic communities and the environment.
  7. Put an advisory in place for Australian businesses and investors to avoid any business with the Myanmar military junta and its cronies.
  8. Ensure the Future Fund divests from all businesses that are providing arms and revenue to the military junta.
  9. Urge the UN Security Council to impose a global arms embargo on the Myanmar military junta and to refer the Myanmar situation to the ICC.
  10. Stop hiding behind ASEAN as an excuse for inaction on Burma/Myanmar.
  11. Urge ASEAN to exclude the Myanmar military junta from all meetings, programs and military exercises, and to recognize NUG and NUCC. Boycott all meetings that include junta representatives.
  12. Urge ASEAN to move beyond the Five-Point Consensus and work with NUG, NUCC, EROs and civil society to find an alternative and durable solution to the crisis in Burma/Myanmar that upholds human rights and democratic principles.
  13. Urge ASEAN to revoke the decision reached during the Consultative Meeting on ASEAN Humanitarian Assistance to Myanmar that places the military junta in control of aid delivery. Ensure the AHA Centre ceases its divide-and-rule approach and begins inclusive consultation with NUG, NUCC, EROs and civil society. If ASEAN fails to do so, stop providing aid and technical support to the AHA Centre for Myanmar.
  14. Commission Australia’s Special Envoy on Southeast Asia to engage with the ASEAN Special Envoy and UN Special Envoys on Myanmar to ensure joint effort by the UN and ASEAN to address the human rights and humanitarian crisis in Burma/Myanmar, in coordination with NUG, NUC, EROs and civil society.
  15. Urge Quad members Japan and India to immediately end business with the junta, impose an arms embargo and end all military support for the junta. The Quad must recognise and support the NUG as the legitimate government and NUCC as the highest consultative body of Burma/Myanmar.

For further information, please contact:

List of Signatories

List of signatories include the following 298 Myanmar, regional and international organisations and 390 Myanmar civil society organisations that have chosen not to disclose their names.

Signed by:

  1. 8888 Generation (New Zealand)
  2. Active Youths (Kalay Myo)
  3. Ah Nah podcast- conversation with Myanmar
  4. Ah. La. Ka (12) Hta Khwe. Primary Education Student Union
  5. All Burma Democratic Face in New Zealand
  6. All Burma Federation of Trade Unions-ABFTU
  7. All Burma Indigenous People Alliance (APIBA)
  8. All Religions Strike Column
  9. All Sagaing Township Basic Education Students’ Union
  10. All Schools of Aungmyaythazan Township Strike
  11. Alternative Solutions for Rural Communities (ASORCOM)
  12. ALTSEAN-Burma
  13. Anti-Junta Forces Coordination Committee (AFCC)
  14. Arakan CSO Network
  15. Arakan Humanitarian Coordination Team-AHCT
  16. Asia Justice and Rights (AJAR)
  17. Association for Human Rights Defenders and Promoters
  18. Athan – Freedom of Expression Activist Organization
  19. Auckland Kachin Community NZ
  20. Auckland Zomi Community
  21. Aung Myay Thar Zan Education School
  22. Aung Myay Tharzan Basic Education Students’ Union-ABFSU
  23. Aung Pin Lae Main Strike Column
  24. Australia Chin Communities’ Council Inc.
  25. Australia Karen Organization (AKO)
  26. Australian Burmese Muslim Organization
  27. Australian Burmese Rohingya Organization (ABRO)
  28. Ayeyarwaddy Youth Network
  29. Bago Basic Education Students’ Union
  30. Bago MATA
  31. Bago Women Group
  32. Bank Trade Unions Federation of Myanmar – BTUFM
  33. BEHS-1, Hpa-An Basic Education Students’ Union
  34. BEHS-1, Mandalay Basic Education Students’ Union-ABFSU
  35. BEHS-11, Aungmyethazan Basic Education Students’ Union-ABFSU
  36. BEHS-24, Mahaaungmyay Basic Education Students’ Union-ABFSU
  37. BEHS-4, Mandalay Basic Education Students’ Union-ABFSU
  38. BEHS-8, Aungmyethazan Basic Education Students’ Union-ABFSU
  39. Blood Money Campaign
  40. Burma Action Ireland
  41. Burma Environmental Working Group
  42. Burma River Network
  43. Burma suomalaiset, Finland
  44. Burmese American Millennials
  45. Burmese Canadian Network
  46. Burmese Community Group (Manawatu, NZ)
  47. Burmese Community in France
  48. Burmese Rohingya Welfare Organisation New Zealand
  49. Burmese Women’s Union
  50. Campaign for a New Myanmar
  51. CDM Support Team Mandalay
  52. Chan Mya Thar Si Township People Strike Column
  53. Chanayetharsan Basic Education Students’ Union
  54. Check us for Safety (Ahlone)
  55. Chin Community of Auckland
  56. Chin Human Right Organization (CHRO)
  57. Chin Leaders
  58. Chin MATA
  59. Chin Resources Center
  60. Citizen of Burma Award – New Zealand
  61. Coalition of Mandalay Engineers
  62. Columns Coordination Committee
  63. Committee Representing Mandalay Region Hluttaw
  64. Cooperative University Student Strike Column
  65. CRPH & NUG Supporters Ireland
  66. CRPH Funding Ireland
  67. Daik-U Basic Education Students’ Union
  68. Daung Sit Thi
  69. Dawei Basic Education Students’ Union
  70. Dawei Development Association
  71. Delta News Agency
  72. Democracy for Ethnic Minorities Organization
  73. Democracy for Myanmar – Working Group (NZ)
  74. Democratic Youth Council
  75. Demoso Basic Education Students’ Union
  76. Dhanu Youth Organization
  77. Doh Atu – Ensemble pour le Myanmar
  78. Education Family (Anti – Fascists Education Strike)
  79. Educational Initiatives Prague
  80. Equality Myanmar
  81. Ethnic Myanmar Communities’ Council of Australia
  82. Ethnic Youth General Strike Committee (Mandalay)
  83. Family Private School Basic Education Students’ Union-ABFSU
  84. Federal Myanmar Benevolence Group (NZ)
  85. Federal Trade Union of Kawthoolei (FTUK)
  86. Free Rohingya Coalition
  87. Freedom for Burma
  88. Future Light Center
  89. Future Thanlwin
  90. Generation Wave
  91. Global Movement for Myanmar Democracy (GM4MD)
  92. Helping Hands for Burma (H2B)
  93. Hinthada Basic Education Students’ Union-ABFSU
  94. Hlaing Thar Yar Basic Education Students’ Union
  95. Hopin Basic Education Students’ Union
  96. HTY Scout Channel
  97. Human Rights Educators Network
  98. Human Rights Foundation of Monland
  99. Information & Scout News (Hlaing)
  100. Insein Scout Channel
  101. Inter-Faith Strike Column
  102. Interfaith Youth Coalition on Aids in Myanmar (IYCA-Myanmar)
  103. International Association, Myanmar-Switzerland (IAMS)
  104. Justice For Myanmar
  105. Kachin State Women Network
  106. Kachin Women’s Association Thailand
  107. Kachin Women’s Union
  108. Kadu Youth Development Association (KYDA)
  109. Kamayut Scout Channel
  110. Karen Environment and Social Action Network (KESAN)
  111. Karen Human Rights Group
  112. Karen Office of Relief and Development (KORD)
  113. Karen Rivers Watch
  114. Karen Student Network Group (KSNG)
  115. Karen Women’s Organization
  116. Karen Youth Organization (KYO)
  117. Karenni Civil Society Network
  118. Karenni Community Geelong
  119. Karenni Human Rights Group
  120. Karenni National Women’s Organization
  121. Karenni Society Finland
  122. Karenni Society New Zealand
  123. Katha Basic Education Students’ Union
  124. Kayah Liphu Youth (KLY)
  125. Kayan Internally Displacement Supervising Committee (KIDSC)
  126. Keng Tung Youth
  127. Kyaikhto Basic Education Students’ Union – KBESU
  128. Kyaikhto Students’ Union – KSU
  129. Kyaukse Basic Education Students’ Union
  130. Kyaukse University Interim Administrative Council
  131. Kyauktada Strike Committee (KSC)
  132. Kyause University Students’ Union
  133. Kyimyindaing Scout Channel
  134. Labor Union Federation
  135. Labutta Basic Education Students’ Union-ABFSU
  136. Langkho Basic Education Students’ Union
  137. Lanmadaw,Latha & Pabedan Scout Channel
  138. Lashio Basic Education Students’ Union
  139. Launglon Basic Education Students’ Union
  140. League of Labour Union
  141. Let’s Help Each Other
  142. Letpadan Basic Education Students’ Union-ABFSU
  143. LGBT Union Mandalay (LGBTIQ Strike of Mandalay)
  144. Maha Aung Myay Township People Collective Strike Column
  145. Mahaaungmyay Township People Strike
  146. Mandalar College Students Strike
  147. Mandalar University Student Strike Column
  148. Mandalar University Student Union (Mandalay Poets’ Union)
  149. Mandalar University Students Union
  150. Mandalay Alliance Coalition Strike
  151. Mandalay Based People Strike Column
  152. Mandalay Civil Society Organization
  153. Mandalay Engineer United Force
  154. Mandalay Engineers Group
  155. Mandalay People Strike
  156. Mandalay Poets’ Union
  157. Mandalay Private Universities Students Union
  158. Mandalay Technology University (MTU) Students Union
  159. Mandalay Universities, Degree and College Teachers and Staffs Strike
  160. Mandalay University Alumni Strike
  161. Mandalay University of Foreign Languages Students Union
  162. Mandalay Wholesale Centers Strike
  163. Mandalay Wholesale Strike Column
  164. Mandalay Women Strike
  165. Mandalay Youth Association
  166. Mandalay Youth Strike Column
  167. Mawkmai Basic Education Students’ Union
  168. Mawlamyine Basic Education Students’ Union
  169. Mayangone News
  170. Medical Family Mandalay (MFM)
  171. Medical University (Mandalay) Student Union
  172. Meikhtila Basic Education Students’ Union-ABFSU
  173. Metta Campaign Mandalay
  174. Midwives Training School (Mandalay) Students’ Union
  175. MIIT Student Strike Column
  176. Minbu Basic Education Students’ Union-ABFSU
  177. Minhla Youth Center
  178. Mogaung Basic Education Students’ Union
  179. Mohnyin Basic Education Students’ Union
  180. Monywa Basic Education Students’ Union – ABFSU
  181. Mudon Basic Education Students’ Union
  182. Muslim Youth Network
  183. Muslim Youth Union
  184. Mya Taung Strike Column
  185. Myanmar Alliance for Transparency and Accountability
  186. Myanmar Canadian Network
  187. Myanmar Diaspora Group Finland
  188. Myanmar Emergency Fund – Canada
  189. Myanmar Engineers – New Zealand
  190. Myanmar Gonye (New Zealand)
  191. Myanmar Institute of Information Technology Students’ Union
  192. Myanmar Labour News
  193. Myanmar People Alliance (Shan State)
  194. Myanmar People from Ireland
  195. Myanmar Railway, Region (3) CDM Strike Column
  196. Myanmar Students’ Union in New Zealand
  197. National Support Team (NST)
  198. National University of Arts and Culture (Mandalay) Students’ Union
  199. Network for Human Rights Documentation Burma (ND-Burma)
  200. New Zealand Doctors for NUG
  201. New Zealand Karen Association
  202. New Zealand Zo Community Inc.
  203. No (12) Basic Education Middle School Student Union
  204. No (7) Basic Education High School Alumni Strike
  205. No.12 Basic Education Middle School (High Branch) Basic Education Students’ Union
  206. NOK Information & Scout Echo
  207. North Dagon & East Dagon News
  208. NRFF – New Rehmonnya Federated Force
  209. Nursing Training School Students Union (Mandalay)
  210. Nyaunglebin Basic Education Students’ Union
  211. Overseas Mon Association – New Zealand
  212. Oway Institute
  213. Padaung Basic Education Students’ Union-ABFSU
  214. Pan Pa Wati People Strike Column
  215. Pa-O Youth Organization
  216. Paramedical Technical University (Mandalay) Student Union
  217. PEC Private School Basic Education Students’ Union
  218. Pharmacy University (Mandalay) Students’ Union
  219. Phayagyi Peace Strike Column
  220. Private pre-school Teachers’ Association
  221. Progressive Voice
  222. Pyay Basic Education Students’ Union-ABFSU
  223. Pyigyidagon Strike
  224. Pyin Nyar Nan Daw Private School Basic Education Students’ Union
  225. Pyin Oo Lwin Basic Education Students’ Union
  226. Pyinmana Basic Education Students’ Union-ABFSU
  227. Pyithu Gonye (New Zealand)
  228. Reliable Organization
  229. Rvwang Community Association New Zealand
  230. Sagaing MATA
  231. Sangha Samaga Strike Column
  232. Sangha Union Strike
  233. Save and Care Organization for Women at Ethnic Border Areas
  234. Save Myanmar Fundraising Group (New Zealand)
  235. Save the Salween Network
  236. Sein Pan Strike Column
  237. Shan Community (New Zealand)
  238. Shan MATA
  239. Sintgaing Basic Education Students’ Union
  240. Sisters 2 Sisters
  241. Sitt Nyein Pann Foundation
  242. Social Garden
  243. SOS MYANMAR (ရုန်းကန်သံအဖွဲ့)
  244. South Dagon Scouting Infos (SDG)
  245. Southern Youth Development Organization
  246. Strike Column of Representatives of Arbitrarily Arrested People
  247. Strike Column of Teachers from Universities and Degree Colleges of Mandalay
  248. Students for Free Burma (SFB)
  249. Support Group for Democracy in Myanmar (the Netherlands)
  250. Swedish Myanmar Supporting Community
  251. Synergy – Social Harmony Organization
  252. Ta’ang Women’s Organization
  253. Taekwando Sport Association
  254. Taekwondo Federation
  255. Taiwan Alliance for Myanmar
  256. Tampawadi People Strike
  257. Tamwe Nway Oo Channel
  258. Tanintharyi Nationalities Congress
  259. Tanitharyi MATA
  260. Taunggyi Basic Education Students’ Union
  261. Technical University (Mandalay) Student Union
  262. Technological University (Yadanabon Cyber City) Students’ Union
  263. Technological University Mandalay (TUM) Students Union
  264. Tha Pyay Nyo Newsletter
  265. Thaketa & Dawbon Scout Channel
  266. Thaton Basic Education Students’ Union
  267. Thint Myart Lo Thu Myar Organization
  268. Traditional Medicine (Mandalay) Students’ Union
  269. Union of Karenni State Youth
  270. University of Computer (Mandalay) Students’ Union
  271. University of Computer Studies (Mandalay) Students’ Union
  272. University of Dental Medicine (Mandalay) Students’ Union
  273. University of Medicine (Mandalay) Students’ Union
  274. University of Nursing (Mandalay) Students’ Union
  275. University of Pharmacy (Mandalay) Students’ Union
  276. University of Traditional Medicine (Mandalay) Students’ Union
  277. US Advocacy Coalition for Myanmar (USACM)
  278. VEC Private School Basic Education Students’ Union
  279. Way Way Nay
  280. Wetlet Basic Education Students’ Union-ABFSU
  281. Women’s League of Burma
  282. Wundwin Basic Education Students’ Union-ABFSU
  283. Yadanabon University Students’ Union
  284. Yadanapone University Student Union (Ya. Ta. Ka. Tha)
  285. Yangon Revolution Force – YRF (Soft Strike Community)
  286. Yedashe Basic Education Students’ Union-ABFSU
  287. Youth Poets’ Union
  288. Youth Scout For Democracy (YSD)
  289. Youths Union
  290. Youths Union – Pathein
  291. Z Fighter News
  292. Zabuthiri Basic Education Students’ Union-ABFSU
  293. Zeegwat News
  294. Zo Community Australia Inc.
  295. တော်လှန်သွေးမကုန် တောင်ဒဂုံသပိတ်အင်အားစု
  296. ဒို့မြေကွန်ရက် (LIOH)
  297. ပွင့်ဖြူလယ်ယာမြေကွန်ရက်
  298. မျိုးဆက်-Generations