Congress Stands with the People of Myanmar : Never Again to Military Rule

11 Feb 2021

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On 1 February 2021, a day before the newly elected Parliament convened, the Tatmadaw – the Myanmar military – arrested President Win Myint, State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, and more than a hundred elected lawmakers from the National League of Democracy (NLD), which scored a landslide victory in the November 2020 election. Claiming last November’s election fraudulent, the Tatmadaw declared a one-year state of emergency.


The next day, on 2 February 2021, doctors and health workers from 70 hospitals in Myanmar put down their tools in protest against the coup. Residents in Yangon have been banging pots and pans each night at 8 p.m. to oppose the coup.
Within days, workers went on strike all over the country, shutting down workplaces, including the Tatmadaw-controlled Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise, Myanmar National Airlines, railways, and mines.


The Confederation of Trade Unions Myanmar (CTUM), and the Myanmar Industry Craft and Service Trade Unions Federation (MICS) have left the National Tripartite Labour Forum to demonstrate that they do not recognise the current administration, and they called upon members to join the general strike on 8 February 2021.


Yvonne O’ Callaghan, Chair of Congress Global Solidarity Committee states “We stand in solidarity with the people of Myanmar, as thousands of workers risk their lives in taking action defending their fragile democracy and resist the military takeover. They continue to protest across the country in defiance against the coup and attempts by the military junta to suppress dissent by all means possible. Urgent action is needed to ramp up pressure on governments and corporations to target the commercial interests of the Myanmar military junta”


Congress International Officer, David Joyce added that “the Irish government must use its current position on the UN Security Council to take action to isolate the Commander-in-Chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing and other military leaders responsible for the coup”.


We know from past events, that following coups in 1962 and 1988, the military junta brutally crushed the democratic movements, imposed martial law and house arrests on opposition leaders, refused to cede power to democratically elected governments, banned trade unions and established an economic stronghold. We are asking the Irish Government to demand that the Myanmar military rescind the state of emergency, immediately release all political figures and activists, defend the Myanmar people’s right to choose their leaders, and remove limits on freedom of expression, assembly and association.


We are urging all companies that hold relationships with that operate or invest in Myanmar to end their commercial ties with the Myanmar military and use their leverage to secure the release of detainees, restore democratic institutions, and guarantee the human and labour rights of all Myanmar workers. This must include international companies providing support to workers where operations are curtailed, including protection to workers protesting the coup.


In line with the Global Trade Union Movement’s vow to confront global forces that work against the interests of working people, Congress are demanding that the Irish Government :
• Call on the UN Security Council to impose sanctions against the military leaders responsible for the coup, Sanctions must also target economic capital which provide the military with its revenue;
• Call on the UN Security Council to impose a global arms embargo on Myanmar;
• Call on the European Union to cancel Myanmar's Everything But Arms (EBA) preferential trade status;
• Call on international companies operating in Myanmar to end any direct or indirect business relationships or financial ties to military-owned businesses (details can be found in the UN Human Rights Council report on economic interest of the Myanmar military) and to use their leverage to secure the release of detainees, restore democratic institutions, and guarantee the human and labour rights of all Myanmar workers. This must include international companies providing support to workers where operations are curtailed, including protection to workers protesting the coup.
Link to ITUC Campaign Page