Family urges Myanmar to free Australian

·2-min read

The distraught family of an Australian academic detained in Myanmar are calling for his release.

Sean Turnell, an economics advisor to overthrown leader Aung San Suu Kyi, was detained at the weekend by police after the army seized power.

His wife Ha Vus said Professor Turnell had done nothing wrong.

"We all know that wherever he is now he will be worried," she posted to social media.

"He worked for Myanmar by using his knowledge of economic from 20 years. He is someone who brings job opportunities and jobs to Myanmar people."

Prof Turnell is director of the Myanmar Development Institute in Naypyitaw and has served as special consultant to Ms Suu Kyi since December.

Foreign Minister Marise Payne said Australia was working hard to secure his release.

"We have asked for his immediate release and we have been with the most senior levels of the incoming government in Myanmar," she told ABC radio on Tuesday.

"He is a very, very well respected academic. His passion has been in helping Myanmar and the people of Myanmar."

Senator Payne said the situation in Myanmar was very volatile, making it difficult to access senior government representatives.

Protests have grown in Myanmar as opposition to the coup grows increasingly bold.

Overnight, police fired water cannon in Naypyidaw and warned protesters to disperse or face force.

Senator Payne called on the incoming Myanmar government to respect the rule of law and restore communications access to ensure openness and transparency.

The minister has warned Australian military cooperation with Myanmar is at risk following the coup.

Myanmar's military leader on Monday gave his first national address since the coup, saying an election would be held and power handed to the winning party.

Senior General Min Aung Hlaing said the junta was different to previous military governments, adding foreign policy would remain unchanged and countries would be encouraged to invest in Myanmar.

He repeated unfounded claims that there were irregularities in last year's election and said no organisation was above the law. He made no mention of ousted leader Ms Suu Kyi.

The United Nations Human Rights Council will hold a special session to discuss the crisis in Myanmar.

Diplomats will discuss a draft resolution to be presented for adoption at the meeting on Friday.