Time for actions, not just condemnation, against the military junta in Myanmar

30 Mar 2021

Myanmar protest

(photo: Myat Thu Kyaw / NurPhoto via AFP)

Congress joins with trade unions around the world in condemning the bloody repression by the Myanmar military which has trampled over democracy and the legitimate protests of the people of Myanmar and killed over 100 people including children in the deadliest day since the illegal coup two months ago. In addition to gun and grenade attacks on people in several cities, airstrikes against its own people have caused many citizens to flee the country for Thailand.

We stand in solidarity with the brave people and workers of the country resisting the coup at such terrible personal cost. Trade union leaders are on a military wanted list, under surveillance and many remain in hiding. Workers must be free to exercise their right to freedom of association and peaceful protest without the threat of death or risk of forced labour.

However words of condemnation, including the strong comments by Minister Coveney over the weekend, are not enough in the face of cold-blooded murder by military rulers not accepted by their own people.

We join Minister Coveney and others in condemning the regime, but also call for firm and appropriate action like the decision by the US Trade Representative to suspend trade with Myanmar - an example which the European Union should follow, along with enhanced financial sanctions to stop the flow of money to the military junta.

Congress also feels it would be appropriate to impose sanctions against EU companies who continue to do business with the military junta. Whether it be oil and gas, commodities exported from Myanmar or financial and other services; doing business with Myanmar today means colluding with corruption. The complicity must end and the military must be completely isolated internationally for the sake of the people of Burma who are paying a terrible price for their brave defiance of the junta.

The military’s fear that this stranglehold would be weakened by a democratic government is a key reason for the military coup and the continuing bloody repression.

Congress therefore calls on Minister Coveney to add concrete actions to the condemnation and make strenuous efforts to strengthen action by the international community against the Generals and the military (and its many economic activities).