[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index
The Nation: EDITORIAL: Forced labou
- Subject: The Nation: EDITORIAL: Forced labou
- From: suriya@xxxxxxxxxxxx
- Date: Mon, 21 Jun 1999 13:43:00
Subject: The Nation: EDITORIAL: Forced labour adds to Asean embarrassment
Editorial & Opinion
EDITORIAL: Forced labour adds to Asean
At its annual conference in Geneva over the week, the International Labour
Organisation (ILO) passed a resolution to condemn the practice of forced
in Burma and banned it from receiving any form of assistance from its
organisation. The Burmese delegations would not be allowed to attend any ILO
meetings, except conferences and meetings of the governing body.
The ILO has repeatedly criticised Burma for its systematic conscription of
villagers to work as porters and road constructers and labourers.
Among the more than 800,000 people allegedly forced to work for the
the remote districts and jungles, many of them are children.
The UN body has also urged Burma to amend its labour law to outlaw forced
labour. Burma promised to fulfil this plea since joining the convention in
1955. But it has been 30 years and there is no positive sign of the incumbent
military junta known as the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC)
fulfilling this vow.
Forced labour continues unabated and those who order the practice still go
about their daily lives unpunished. Indeed, the military junta in Rangoon is
not listening. The boycott came after Burma failed to enforce any of the ILO
recommendations issued last year.
The ILO also concluded a new treaty to end all forms of child labour. It is
estimated that some 250 million children are working in developing countries.
More than half of them are concentrated in Asia. The treaty seeks to eliminate
child slavery, child prostitution and pornography and the use of children in
drug trafficking and armed conflict.
Now there are also movements to tighten the screws further. Labour experts at
the ILO, trade unions and employers' groups would like to declare the use of
forced labour as a ''crime against humanity'' which can be prosecuted in the
international criminal court.
The ILO's increased criticism comes at the time some international aid
organisations are trying to make headway in Burma, thinking that aid could
provide incentives for the junta to open up and treat its citizens more
In a recent statement, Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has warned
that international aid could backfire if it props up a ''despotic'' regime in
Once again, leading ILO member countries have also jointly condemned Burma
its treatment of its population. US President Bill Clinton, in his speech in
Geneva, also highlighted Burma, citing that the country stands in defiance of
the ILO's fundamental values and standards.
Only Asean came to support and defend Burma, saying that the country should be
given more time to comply. It is embarrassing that a member of Asean is being
condemned so frequently in international fora. It does not augur well with the
grouping's ongoing effort to improve its tainted image.
It is one thing to fight for a right cause, it is another to fight for a false
It is hard to argue that the ILO standard is a Western standard when almost
rest of the world have the decency to comply and improve their labour standard
whichever way they can.
The Burmese junta has always being regarded as an arrogant bunch of jurassic
strongmen whose only regard is to cling on to power at all cost.
This, they have been doing for the past three decades, all to the detriment of
the Burmese people.
But forcing their very own people to forced labour goes beyond human
comprehension. This has to stop.