Thousands have been killed in brutal crackdowns on protests calling for the restoration of democratic rule, including medics, journalists, and citizen activists. The conflict has also wrapped up ethnic armed groups, who have been fighting the Myanmar military for decades in the pursuit of greater rights and freedoms for ethnic minorities, with the conflict involving the use of indiscriminate shelling, heavy air and artillery bombardments, and the torching of villages by Myanmar military forces in cases documented and noted by Human Rights Watch, and the United Nations, among others.
It's in this context of repression, conflict, and violence that Burmese students studying in Australia face if, and when, they return to their home country.
A cohort of these students have been granted opportunities to study at Australian institutions under the 'Australian Awards' program, a scheme which requires all students to return home on completion of their studies.
An open letter organised by a coalition of Australian academics, including senior academics here at UNSW's Faculty of Law & Justice, has called on the Federal Government to award the 30 or so Australian Awards students from Myanmar with humanitarian visas.
We sat down with UNSW's Professor Melissa Crouch who is part of that effort calling on the government to provide these visas to Burmese students.
A group of Australian academics is calling on the federal government to grant humanitarian protection visas to students from Myanmar who have not been able to return to their country following the military coup in February 2021. Professor Melissa Crouch at UNSW Law & Justice, who is a signatory, answers some questions about the students, their situation and the academic’s open letter.