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NEWS -Thailand Cancels Meeting Coin
- Subject: NEWS -Thailand Cancels Meeting Coin
- From: Rangoonp@xxxxxxx
- Date: Fri, 21 May 1999 12:36:00
Subject: NEWS -Thailand Cancels Meeting Coinciding with EU-ASEAN Gathering
Thailand Cancels Meeting Coinciding with EU-ASEAN Gathering
BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) -- Thai officials have abruptly
canceled an international trade union conference expected
to discuss forced labor and democracy in neighboring
Myanmar, organizers said today.
The conference, months in the planning, was to run next
week at the same time as a controversial summit in
between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and
The EU-ASEAN meeting has been delayed for nearly a year
due to objections by European countries over the
participation of Myanmar, a member of ASEAN since 1997
and the target of EU sanctions over the poor human-rights
record of its military government.
The Singapore-based International Confederation of Free
Trade Unions-Asia and Pacific Regional Organizations
disclosed today that the Thai government withdrew
permission this week for labor the conference, which was
bring together 130 people from 20 countries.
Michel Caillouet, the European Commission's ambassador in
Thailand, told reporters that the EU-ASEAN meeting would
go on despite the labor conference's cancellation.
"There is no link between the two programs. The timing
appears to be a coincidence," Caillouet said. "We would
be happy, because we support free speech. But there is no
The union organization said that the Thai Foreign
had approved the gathering, which was to discuss trade
union action in Myanmar, also known as Burma. Members of
the Myanmar pro-democracy movement were invited to
In a letter received Thursday, however, the Thai Ministry
Labor and Social Welfare, said that holding the
"would result in negative effects on the good relations
between Thailand and its neighbor."
The Singapore-based union organization said in a
that Bangkok's decision was "a sad reflection on the
so-called sovereignty of Thailand."
Signed by secretary general Takashi Izumi, the statement
said that the incident would add to the negative view
unions have had of the candidacy of a Thai deputy prime
minister, Supachai Pantichpakdi, to head the World Trade
Officials at the union organization said on condition of
anonymity that they would eventually hold the conference
another country. No date has been set.
The EU-ASEAN meeting is extremely sensitive and has
highlighted rifts between the two regional blocs since
Myanmar was admitted as a member two years ago.
EU officials have refused to sit at the same table with
ASEAN if Myanmar takes a seat as an equal member, and
ASEAN has insisted that Myanmar cannot be relegated to
Caillouet said in a briefing that the meeting was finally
ahead because ASEAN has agreed to come not as a bloc
but as separate countries. Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia
will be present but will not be allowed to speak.
The other ASEAN members -- Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia,
the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam -- have
accords with the EU that take into account human-rights
will participate fully.