ABC NEWS

Myanmar junta apologises to Australian couple for 'misunderstanding' over house arrest

ABC NEWS logo ABC NEWS 9/04/2021 01:23:55
a smiling man and woman posing for a picture: Matthew O'Kane and Christa Avery are currently in COVID-19 quarantine in Canada. (Supplied) © Provided by ABC NEWSMatthew O'Kane and Christa Avery are currently in COVID-19 quarantine in Canada. (Supplied)

An Australian couple freed from house arrest in Myanmar say they were issued an apology from authorities for the "misunderstanding".

Business consultants Christa Avery and her husband Matthew O'Kane were refused permission to leave Myanmar last month, just as they were about to board a flight home.

The couple, who were released last weekend, told the ABC they arrived safely in Canada and are completing COVID-19 quarantine.

Ms Avery is a dual Australian-Canadian citizen.

"No charges of any nature were brought against us or our business during our temporary detention and we were released with apologies for the misunderstanding," Ms Avery and Mr O'Kane said via email.

"We wish to thank our family, friends and colleagues who have expressed their support and well wishes to us over the past three weeks."

Myanmar has been in turmoil since a ousted elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi on February 1.

Violence between  has since claimed more than 600 lives, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) activist group.

"Whilst it was a difficult time for us, our suffering is incomparable to that of the people of Myanmar, and our hearts and prayers are with them at this time," the couple said.

Third Australian still in custody

Ms Avery and Mr O'Kane run a bespoke consultancy business in Yangon.

DFAT, who said they "welcomed" the couples release, provided consular assistance prior to their release and assisted in their departure from Yangon on April 4.

 - an advisor to Ms Suu Kyi - remains in custody.

In an earlier statement, Ms Avery urged Myanmar's leaders to release him.

"I hope that even if Sean cannot be released very soon, he can, at least, be moved to house arrest for his physical, mental and emotional wellbeing," Ms Avery said.

The couple said on their release from quarantine they plan to "spend some long overdue private time with our family".

Protesters fight back

Meanwhile, in the town of Taze in north-west Myanmar, protesters armed with homemade guns, knives and firebombs fought back against truckloads of troops that were sent in to quell the protests on Wednesday.

Fighting carried on into Thursday morning and at least 11 protesters were killed and about 20 wounded, local media reported. There was no word of any casualties among the soldiers.

Taze is near the town of Kale, where at least 12 people were killed in a similar clash between troops and protesters on Wednesday, according to news media and witnesses.

The incidents could signal a new phase in a struggle in which the opposition has largely used peaceful means of protest despite the lethal actions of the security forces.

"People will try to defend their own lives and their rights," said a former government minister who belongs to the Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw (CRPH), a group of politicians representing the ousted civilian government.

"The CRPH cannot stop the possible armed resistance by the people, from the people," the minister said.

The junta could not be reached for comment.

ABC/wires

9. huhtikuuta 2021 4:23:55 Categories: ABC NEWS

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