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BURMA – Five activists arrested for campaigning workers’ rights

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ftub.jpg Five
members of the Federation Trade Unions Burma were arrested in Rangoon
on 1 April 2009. The federation issued a statement on 8 April, calling
for their release and abide by international conventions Burma has

members of the Federation Trade Unions Burma were arrested in Rangoon
on 1 April 2009. The federation issued a statement on 8 April, calling
for their release and abide by international conventions Burma has

On April 1, 2009, five members of the Federation Trade
Unions Burma (FTUB) were arrested in their homes in Rangoon after returning
from border areas where they had participated as delegates in the 1st National
Congress of FTUB. The five members are
likely being held in interrogation centres in the Rangoon area where it is
believed they are being tortured. These
FTUB members have served as non-violent advocates and campaigners for workers'
rights and the improvement of wages and working conditions for workers inside
Burma. While the charges on which they
were arrested have not been announced, the FTUB strongly condemns these
unlawful arrests.      

The FTUB members arrested on April 1 are the

  1. U Zaw
    Myint Aung    (49 years old, Teacher,
    South Okkalapa, Rangoon)
  2. U Soe
    Oo                 (37 years old,
    Textile Factory Worker, Shwe Pyi Thar, Rangoon)
  3. Maung Tun
    Nyein     (22 years old, Worker, Shwe
    Hninsi Textile factory, Hlaing Thayar, Rangoon)
  4. Ms. Khine
    Lin Myat  (22 years old, Worker, UMH Textile
  5. Ms. Shwe
    Yi Nyunt   (25 years old, Nurses Aide
    and Law Student, University of Western Rangoon, and Member,
    FTUB Women's Committee)

In addition, the FTUB has learned that an unspecified
number of family members of these five persons were also arrested, and these
family members have been threatened and put under pressure in an effort by the
military authorities to compel cooperation from the five detained FTUB

FTUB strongly demands the following: 

  1. U Zaw Myint Aung, U Soe Oo, Maung Tun Nyein,
    Ma Khine Lin Myat, Ma Shwe Yi  Nyunt must
    be released immediately and unconditionally.
  2. The State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) authorities must immediately cease
    intimidating, detaining and threatening the family members of these FTUB
  3. The SPDC must strictly abide by the ILO
    Convention 87 of the International Labour Organization on Freedom of
    Association, which Burma has ratifed. 
  4. The SPDC must denounce the actions of the
    authorities involved arresting our members, and immediately order an end to all
    actions to prevent workers from forming trade unions and exercising their
    workers' rights in Burma.

U Maung Maung, the General Secretary of the FTUB, said
today that "Burma has ratified ILO Convention number 87 on Freedom of
Association, the military SPDC government is obliged by international law to
respect and abide by this Convention.
The fact that our members were arrested just after returning from
participating in the 1st National Congress of the FTUB, which is recognized by
the international labour movement as the legitimate national labour center of
Burma, shows just how little regard Burma's generals have for human rights,
labour rights, and the international agreements they ratify". 

U Maung Maung continued that "We wholeheartedly
condemn these arrests as a wanton violation of Burma's commitments to the ILO
and the international community. Our 1st
National Congress was attended by more than a twenty labour union delegates
from the countries of ASEAN, the wider Asia-Pacific, Europe and North America,
and these arrests are an insult to both the international trade union movement,
and to the ILO.  We call on all human
rights and labour rights organizations around the world to take up the cause of
these five brave members of the FTUB, and we vow to hold the representatives of
SPDC to account at the ILO Conference in Geneva in June".

The FTUB requests the solidarity, support and
cooperation from the International Trade Union Congress (ITUC) and the
international labour movement to immediately campaign for the release of not
only these five FTUB members, but also for all our unlawfully arrested FTUB
sisters and brothers in detention in Burma.
The FTUB also calls on the the International Labour Organization (ILO)
for its immediate action to help secure the release of our members in detention
in Burma, and for continuing action to help achieve all trade union rights,
especially Freedom of Association, in Burma.

To download the statement, please click here (.pdf).