Zayar Thaw was executed this week. He was 41. His death is a tragedy and crime against human rights.
Mr Wilson (1:36pm) – As this new parliament gets underway following a high-integrity electoral process and an orderly transition of power, we should reflect on the preciousness of democratic institutions and culture. This week, the military junta in Myanmar carried out the executions of four democracy activists. Among the victims was Phyo Zayar Thaw, who served as a member of the parliament of Myanmar and who worked as an assistant to Aung San Suu Kyi. Either side of his parliamentary service, he was a hip-hop artist—one of Myanmar’s first—and his music and lyrics were an expression of his activism in the cause of democracy.
Zayar Thaw visited Australia in 2012. Indeed, he met Prime Minister Gillard in this building, and he was the beneficiary of support that Australia provides through our aid program to build democratic capacity in our region. One of the reasons I speak today is that Zayar Thaw was a friend to my former chief of staff, Peter Yates. They met in Australia, and their friendship continued when Peter worked in Myanmar to support the development of the country’s democratic institutions. As I’ve said, Zayar Thaw was executed this week. He was 41. His death is a tragedy and crime against human rights. It’s a terrible reminder that Australia must continue to work with the international community to oppose the authoritarian regime in Myanmar and to support the return to peace and democracy in that country.