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Statement upon unlawful arrested of (r)
- Subject: Statement upon unlawful arrested of (r)
- From: osolnick@xxxxxxxxxxxx
- Date: Sun, 13 Jun 1999 00:15:00
Subject: Statement upon unlawful arrested of two unionists
Federation of Trade Unions - Burma
Responsibilities & Rights
815 Fifteenth St, N.W.
Fax: 1-202 - 393 -7343
Date: : 13th June 1999.
Statement upon unlawful arrested of two unionists
It has been two years since the military junta arrested trade union leaders
U Khin Kyaw and U Myo Aung Thant along with their family members on June
13, 1997. The two activists are Central Executive Committee members of the
Federation of Trade Unions-Burma (FTUB).
U Myo Aung Thant and U Khin Kyaw were accused in SLORC media outlets of
"performing terrorist activities". The two trade unionists have been denied
the opportunity to retain legal counsel in their defense. SLORC sentenced U
Myo Aung Thant to life imprisonment in a trial that was not open to the
public. U Khin Kyaw has been imprisoned since his arrest without benefit of
having received any trial whatsoever.
U Myo Aung Thant and U Khin Kyaw's true crime was to have been engaged in
organizing Burmese workers. They were organizing independent workers'
unions in order to protect the workers' rights in accordance with
Burma has ratified ILO Conventions (87) and (29): freedom of association
and freedom from forced labor. However, successive regimes have
aggressively sought to prevent workers from organizing or joining
independent trade unions. The regime -which now calls itself the SPDC-
systematically denies workers' the right to organize. The SPDC's continuing
policy of denying workers the right to organize is illustrative of the vast
gulf between the regimes' international commitments and claims on one hand
and its actual blatant disregard for those commitments in practice on the
The SLORC/SPDC regime's persistently documented violations of ILO
Convention 29 banning the use of forced labor is another example of the
gulf between the regime's rhetoric and reality. The regime once again
failed to clear itself of the charges that it tolerates and indeed promotes
the use of forced labor at the 87th ILO Conference held in June 1999. The
regime's Village and Towns Act gives local military commanders and
government officials the authority to force villagers in their respective
areas to work on projects without any compensation whatsoever.
It must be noted that although the military regime publicly states that
international interference is not acceptable: international pressure has
prompted the regime to claim it will change its policies with respect to
forced labor. Specifically, international pressure from trade unions
working through the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions ICFTU
at the ILO has led to the military regime to claim that its Village and
Towns Acts is no longer being used to compel rural villagers to labor
against their will. If this commitment is ever truly implemented then
international pressure will indeed have impacted the people of Burma in a
manner which citizens of Burma would clearly welcome--- a fact that
coordinated consistent pressures with enforcement have the required effect
on this regime.
The regimes blatant disrespect for Workers Rights -which are chartered by
the ILO- are also violations of workers' basic human rights under UN
Declaration of Human Rights. As such, the organizing activities of U Myo
Aung Thant and U Khin Kyaw were simply the best attempts of two Burmese
citizens to protect the basic human rights of Burmese workers.
Finally, the military regime continues to hinder the day to day activities
of both the National League for Democracy and the ethnic organizations that
are struggling to bring equality and democracy to the country. It is this
illegitimate regime that remains the greatest obstacle to the peaceful
restoration of democracy in Burma.
The FTUB demands the military regime move to restore democracy and human
rights in Burma and to demonstrate its commitment to these goals by
immediately doing the following:
1. Release U Myo Aung Thant, U Khin Kyaw and all political prisoners
2. Recognize the result of the 1990 elections.
3. Work with the NLD and the ethnic organizations to convene a parliament
4. Guarantee the Rights of Freedom of Association and the Right to Organize.
Federation of Trade Unions-Burma