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Accountability groups faced pressure to cancel the conference due to the coup in Myanmar


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    Accounting organizations CPA Australia and the Chartered Accountants of Australia and New Zealand have decided to withdraw from an upcoming accounting conference in Singapore due to the involvement of officials from Myanmar after a military coup this year, but other accounting organizations have not followed suit.

    The Association of Southeast Asian Nations Federation of Accountants (AFA) and the Myanmar Institute of CPAs are co-hosting the AFA’s annual conference on Nov. 25, where the guest of honor will be the auditor general of Myanmar, Dr. Kan Zaw.

    The democratically elected government of Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, was ousted in a military coup in February following a election last November won by the party of Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, who was arrested by the military. Since the coup, hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced amid ongoing protests and violence. The military government has reportedly responded with indiscriminate killing of protesters and bystanders, mass arrests of thousands of people, and brutal torture. Last month, the U.S. State Department demanded an investigation after the Associated Press reported on torture sites across the country.

    A protest group called Justice For Myanmar has been asking accounting organizations that planned to attend the AFA conference to boycott it due to the presence of Myanmar's auditor general, and for the AFA to suspend MICPA’s membership. Organizations originally slated to participate include the Chartered Accountants of Australia and New Zealand and CPA Australia, as well as the Institute of Management Accountants, the International Federation of Accountants, the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, and the Japanese Institute of CPAs. On Monday, CPA Australia and CA ANZ announced plans to withdraw, but it’s unclear what the other groups plan to do.

    “IMA is in touch with AFA and the other sponsor organizations to better understand the situation,” said IMA spokesman Marc Gerrone. “We don’t yet have a position on the ASEAN conference.”

    IFAC and the ICAEW have not yet responded to requests for comment.

    myanmar-protest.jpg
    Doctors join a protest against the military coup in front of the Chinese Embassy on February 12, 2021 in Yangon, Myanmar.

    Getty Images

    The boycott organizers were encouraged by the moves by the Australian and New Zealand accounting organizations not to attend the conference.

    “We welcome the decision by CPA Australia and CA ANZ to withdraw their involvement in the AFA annual conference,” said Justice For Myanmar spokesperson Yadanar Maung in a statement. “This sends a strong message to ASEAN and its related organizations that it is untenable to recognize the terrorist Myanmar military junta as a government and to continue business as usual. The Myanmar military junta is trying to use the AFA platform to legitimize their illegal rule. We demand remaining international accounting bodies immediately withdraw from the AFA conference unless the Myanmar military junta and MICPA is excluded.”

    Editor-in-chief, AccountingToday.com

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