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Australia expels Burma commander’s daughter

The daughter of a senior Burmese air force commander will be expelled from Australia after Canberra ruled that her stay in the country violated sanctions on Burma.

Zin Mon Aye, an accountancy student at the University of Western Sydney, had an appeal over her stay in Australia rejected and will likely return to Burma within days, The Australian newspaper said. Her father, Brigadier-General Zin Yaw, is commander of the Mingalardon air base, one of Burma’s largest military airfields.

Australia is party to sanctions on Burma that target individuals deemed to have close ties to the ruling junta.

The 25-year-old was first targeted by the Australian foreign minister Stephen Smith in 2008, along with her brother, Htet Aung. The newspaper said that she had launched a series of appeals over the past two years, claiming that she was estranged from her father and had no financial ties to him.

Zetty Brake, spokesperson for Burma Campaign Australia (BCA), said it was hard to tell whether the claims made by Zin Mon Aye and her lawyers were true.

“However the sanctions list is very much targeted towards individuals and it’s not a blanket list; it’s meant to target people who are benefitting from the brutal repression in Burma,” she said. “In that case, [Zin Mon Aye’s expulsion] is very fair because these are people who are specifically named and targeted for that reason.”

While Australia’s sanctions on Burma are comprehensive, the country has been criticised for not pushing an embargo far enough. In April this year BCA alleged that bilateral trade between the two countries had risen more than three-fold since early 2009, with a subsidiary of Australian company Twinza Oil still operating in the country.

Danford Equities Corporation signed a contract with the Burmese state-run Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise (MOGE) in November 2006 to explore for oil in Burma. According to BCA, the deal will net the ruling junta around $US2.5 billion.

But campaigners scored a victory earlier in October after Australian clothing chain, Speciality Fashion Group (SFG), announced it would stop sourcing products from Burma.

Brake said said that there were still “a number of steps the Australian government could be taking to have a stronger sanctions regime”, particularly targeting the oil and gas industry which would have a “minimal impact on ordinary citizens of Burma”.

The majority of produce from Burma’s vast natural energy sector, particularly gas and hydropower, is sold to neighbouring countries, despite the country being plagued by terminal electricity shortages.


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