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"We will not rest until power is returned to the people of Myanmar"

3 February, 2022On the first anniversary of the military coup in Myanmar, IndustriALL held a webinar with leaders from the global labour movement, as well as unions in Myanmar.

    The struggle to bring democracy back to Myanmar – one year after the coup

    Speakers at the webinar were :

    • Atle Høie, general secretary, IndustriALL Global Union
    • Kemal Özkan, assistant general secretary, IndustriALL
    • Akira Takakura, vice president, IndustriALL
    • Shinya Iwai, South East Asia regional secretary, IndustriALL
    • Sharan Burrow, general secretary, ITUC
    • U Maung Maung, president, Confederation of Trade Unions of Myanmar
    • Moe Sandar Myint, Myanmar Labour Alliance
    • Dr. Lwan Wai, Comprehensive Economic Sanctions Advocacy Team.

    In his opening address, IndustriALL general secretary Atle Høie said:

    "One year ago, just before the swearing-in ceremony of the new parliament and the formation of a new government, following a landslide election victory by the NDL, the military in Myanmar staged a coup d’état.

    The year that has passed since the coup has been a year of horror as we have witnessed the atrocities of the military junta, while the international community has been unable or unwilling to contribute to the restoration of democracy. In one year 1,500 people have been killed, more than 11,500 have been arrested, more than 1.6 million have been internally displaced and there are 241,000 refugees in Bangladesh, Malaysia and Thailand.

    The military junta is not only hunting down and shelling its citizens in Myanmar, but they are also attacking them in refugee camps in Thailand. What we are witnessing is nothing less than crimes against humanity.

    Still the European Union cannot get itself to withdraw the Everything but Arms preferential trading privileges. The EBA is a system that grants trading privileges to developing and least developed countries to alleviate poverty and create jobs, based on international values and principles, including labour and human rights.

    On what planet can anybody say that what is happening in Myanmar is based on international values and principles?

    Together with Industriall Europe, we are asking all our affiliates in the European Union to put pressure on their governments to withdraw the granted EBA preferences. This cannot continue.

    At our congress in September IndustriALL adopted a very strong resolution calling for comprehensive economic sanctions against Myanmar. We demanded that all multinational companies and global brands cease their operations, divest and stop placing orders and halt their business relations in Myanmar.

    Millions of workers have already lost their jobs because of the breakdown of society, but comprehensive sanctions are necessary to strangle the money flow to the military junta.

    Our demand has been followed by some, is still debated by some and ignored by others. Those who still debate or ignore either think they are helping the people of Myanmar by maintaining jobs or they are cynically exploiting them to make the extra profit.

    Let us be clear about this. It is not possible to do business in Myanmar maintaining the standards that are required by the international community. There can be no real due diligence at any operation in the country and as such no company can say that their business is not harming people or that they are guaranteeing basic trade union and human rights.

    We will not rest until power is returned to the people of Myanmar, and we must use this anniversary to renew our demand for justice."