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Burma Out!! The Skull and Bones Soc (r)

Subject: Burma Out!! The Skull and Bones Society connection

With thanks to the National Union of Journalists (UK)

ICFTU OnLine...

On the eve of an ASEAN labour ministers summit in Rangoon
Global labour group brings fresh evidence of forced labour in Burma
Brussels, May 7 1999 (ICFTU OnLine): While Labour ministers  from the
Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) prepare for a Summit in
controversial Rangoon next week, the International Confederation of Free
Trade (ICFTU) is bringing fresh evidence on the systematic resort by Burma's
military junta to forced labour. The Brussels-based global labour group has
urged its member organisations in ASEAN countries to call on their
governments to cancel their participation at the Rangoon meeting or, failing
that, to make sure that the issue of forced labour is prominent on their
The ICFTU's accusations are contained in an original report submitted this
week to the UN's International Labour Organisation (ILO). The new 15-page
report is supplemented by over  900 pages of evidence, drawing on
information from all parts of the 48-million inhabitants' country, and
compiled from 14 different sources, including the United Nations as well as
several governments and non-governmental organisations.  According to ICFTU
estimates over 800,000 Burmese are still victims of forced labour. The
document includes evidence acquired last April by the Federation of Trade
Unions - Burma (FTUB),  whose underground structures, operating deep inside
army-controlled territory, last month uncovered signs of a growing rift
between Burma's regular infantry battalions and the regime's military
intelligence (MI)  units. The two branches are at odds over their respective
share of money, food supplies and forced labour quotas extorted from the
civilian population in large areas of the southern Pegu Division, located
just North of the capital, Rangoon. Profits are reported to be weighing
heavily in favour of a senior MI officer, identified as Shan Pu and said to
report directly to Gen. Khin Nyunt. The latter is head of Burma's Military
Intelligence and is widely regarded as holding supreme power within the
State Peace and Development Committee, as the military junta has been
calling itself since November 1997.
In other evidence, obtained from human rights structures working alongside
the ethnic Karen opposition movement, the ICFTU identified at least 5 army
officers, whom it accused of extorting forced labour and of other severe
human rights' abuses against the civilian population. They range from a
Lieutenant, identified as Lt. Maung Maung Nyunt, to one Lt.  Colonel Myo
Thain, commanding the 30th Infantry Battalion of the Tadmadaw (Burmese name
of the country's national armed forces). A total of 14 army units, ranging
from company to brigade-level in strength, are identified in one single
document appended to the ICFTU report. Over 40 similar documents, based on
hundreds of first-hand accounts and eye-witnesses reports, are appended to
the ICFTU submission to the ILO.
The ICFTU's  latest report is designed to help the ILO's Governing Body
assess what measures can be taken in order to force Burma's authorities to
comply with the ruling of the organisation's Commission of Inquiry into its
forced labour practices.  The Commission, which released its findings last
August, accused Burma's military regime of condoning crimes against humanity
by resorting on a massive scale to forced labour in its running of the
country's economy. It established, inter alia, that Burma's "forced
labourers, including those sick or injured, are frequently beaten or
otherwise physically abused by soldiers, resulting in serious injuries; some
are killed, and women performing compulsory labour are raped or otherwise
sexually abused by soldiers". 
The ICFTU report strongly suggests that the practice, which under
international law is tantamount to slavery, has continued to develop
throughout the country. In March this year, the ILO's Governing Body
requested the organisation's newly-appointed Director-General, Mr. Juan
Somavia, to report back on the issue by 21st May 1999 at the latest.
"By allowing forced labour to continue unabated, Burma's military clique
keeps seeing the country's entire population as a bottomless reservoir of
free manpower and, in doing so, treats the ILO and its supervisory bodies
with utter contempt", the ICFTU General Secretary Bill Jordan said today in
Brussels. "That ASEAN Labour Ministers should even consider meeting on a
equal footing with Burma's generals in their bunker-like capital is an
insult to the international community in general, and to the Burmese people
in particular", Jordan added. Burma was made a Member of the Association of
South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) last year, in the face of open criticism by
European Union states. The military junta's admission into the 8-member SE
Asian nation's club has been a thorn in the side of EU-ASEAN relations ever
In 1995, the ICFTU successfully attacked Burma's military regime through a
legal procedure falling under the European Union's Generalised System of
Preferences, or GSP. This first-ever complaint against a third-party state
under the EU GSP's labour-related legal provisions had led the European
Community to cancel Burma's trade benefits on its exports to the EU, in
The ICFTU's report will also be presented later this month to a three-day
international trade union conference on solidarity with the workers and
people of Burma. Scheduled to start in Bangkok (Thailand) on May 24, the
conference is widely expected to adopt an international programme of action
against Burma's military dictatorship, which will include a call on
world-wide dis-investment from Burma by multinational companies still
operating there.
The Brussels-based ICFTU groups 213 national trade union centres in 143
countries representing 124 million workers world-wide.
Contact: ICFTU Trade Union Rights Dpt: ++ 32 2 2240201 or ICFTU-Press at:
++32-2 224.02.12 (Brussels). For more information, visit our website at:
(http://www.icftu.org) <http://www.icftu.org)> .

Tim G


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