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IndustriALL urges companies to guarantee fundamental rights in Myanmar

12 March, 2021The civil disobedience movement continues in Myanmar as the military refuses to respect democracy and hand back power. As the military’s use of violence towards the peaceful protestors is escalating, unions in Myanmar are reiterating the urgent need for economic sanctions.

In an interview with Workers’ Liberty, Khaing Zar, president of IndustriALL affiliate IWFM, says that the previous economic sanctions towards Myanmar are what allowed more democratic elections in the first place.

“We are asking the international community and governments to start comprehensive economic sanctions, to stop all the financial flows to the military. We are asking the international financial institutions to freeze all activities within Myanmar,”

says Khaing Zar. 

Earlier this week, the United Nations Security Council condemned the violence in Myanmar and called on the army to show restraint. The US imposed sanctions on two children of Myanmar’s commander in chief and six companies they control.

IndustriALL has reached out multinational companies having operations in Myanmar urging them to actions in protecting fundamental human and labor rigths conducting due diligence. This included energy companies such as Shell, EDF, Engie, Total and Eni.

“Companies must ensure that their business activities and suppliers do not contribute to or aggravate human rights violations, and no worker or union leaders be punished for joining peaceful demonstrations against the coup,”

says Valter Sanches, IndustriALL general secretary

Last month, on the initiative of IndustriALL, global brands sourcing ready-made garments from Myanmar released a joint statement affirming their commitment to democratic standards, declaring:

“as businesses, we are committed to fully respecting human rights and labour rights in our operations and supply chains, in particular, the right to freedom of peaceful assembly, freedom of opinion, and freedom of association under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”

Valter Sanches says:

“We support the call of Myanmar’s citizens for a global campaign to "Stop buying junta business, and call on companies to use their leverage to secure the release of detainees, restore democratic institutions, and guarantee the human and labour rights of all Myanmar workers, especially freedom of association, right for peaceful demonstration and freedom of speech.”