Burmese military regime arrests trade union members

FTUB unlawfully detained, likely tortured

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 centers 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 following: 

  • U Zaw Myint Aung    (49 years old, Teacher, South Okkalapa, Rangoon)
  • U Soe Oo                   (37 years old, Textile Factory Worker, Shwe Pyi Thar, Rangoon)
  • Maung Tun Nyein     (22 years old, Worker, Shwe Hninsi Textile factory, Hlaing Thayar, Rangoon)
  • Ms. Khine Lin Myat   (22 years old, Worker, UMH Textile factory)
  • 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 members.   

FTUB strongly demands the following:

  • U Zaw Myint Aung, U Soe Oo, Maung Tun Nyein, Ma Khine Lin Myat, Ma Shwe Yi  Nyunt must be released immediately and unconditionally.
  • The SPDC authorities must immediately cease intimidating, detaining and threatening the family members of these FTUB members.
  • The SPDC must strictly abide by the ILO Convention 87 of the International Labour Organization on Freedom of Association, which Burma has ratifed. 
  • 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 labor 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.

April 8, 2009
For more information: 
U Maung Maung, General Secretary, Tel./Thailand: (66-86) 090 5672
Email: maungmng@gmail.com