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A year of terror in Myanmar: unions call for immediate withdrawal of EU trade preferences

2 February, 2022Together with IndustriAll Europe, IndustriALL Global Union is calling on the EU to respond to the horrendous abuses of human rights in Myanmar by immediately withdrawing trade preferences under the EU’s Everything But Arms (EBA) system to cut off the military junta’s funding.

“We stand in solidarity with the people of Myanmar and will continue the fight for the return of democracy in the country,”

says IndustriALL assistant general secretary Kemal Özkan.

“Severing economic ties that the military junta gain from is crucial and the EBA must be lifted."

Since the coup d’état, the military junta has arrested over 11,500 civilians, trade unionists, journalists and cultural workers, carried out 64 death penalties and killed more than 1,500 civilians, including at least 100 children, aged between 14 months and 17 years.

Furthermore, the United Nations estimates that there are more than 1.6 million internally displaced persons and refugees due to the conflict in Chin, Kachin, Rakhine and Shan States in Myanmar. In addition, there are 241,000 Burmese refugees in Bangladesh, Malaysia and Thailand.

Under these circumstances, the European Union and the international community, must take a stronger political stance and implement economic actions to stop this carnage. IndustriALL Global Union and its sister organisation IndustriAll Europe, at the request of the democratic trade unions in Myanmar, call on the EU to immediately withdraw Myanmar’s trade preferences under the EU’s EBA scheme.

The EU’s General Scheme of Preferences (GSP), of which EBAs are part of, aims to use EU trade to create jobs in developing countries with respect for labour and human rights. Sanctions and the withdrawal of trade preferences can be implemented when there is evidence of labour and human rights abuses.

‘’The people of Myanmar have been living under a military dictatorship for a year now and the situation simply cannot be allowed to continue. All political leaders must take action to end the atrocities taking place in Myanmar, and we call on EU leaders to use their collective powers, including EU trade measures, to weaken the military junta and end their terrible rule,”

says Judith Kirton‐Darling, industriAll Europe deputy general secretary.