International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) campaign on Burma.

Keywords : Human and trade union rights

One of the longest standing human and trade union rights campaigns of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) has been the one on Burma.

29July 2011

Dear Colleagues

One of the longest standing human and trade union rights campaigns of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) has been the one on Burma. Many of you have participated in various, important ways in this campaign. Still today, the rights of ordinary citizens continue to be trampled upon by the state, including the brutal imposition of forced labour – often by the armed forces. The recent sham elections have not brought about any substantive change in law or in practice; indeed, the reports of our affiliate, the Federation of Trade Unions - Burma (FTUB), and credible human rights organizations show that serious rights abuses continue on as before. Indeed, attacks against ethnic minorities have only escalated in recent months. The military has targeted several ethnic communities and has subjected the inhabitants to serious human rights violations, such as extrajudicial killing, torture and rape, in addition to forced labour, including forced portering.

The ITUC fully supports the call by Daw Aung San SuuKyi and the FTUB for a UN Commission of Inquiry (COI) into possible war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Burma.

The establishment of a COI is the only way that these crimes committed by the state can be thoroughly investigated, as the UN General Assembly has called for numerous times. Further, the findings of the COI could help to develop a roadmap to ensure that such violations do not take place again. The COI was recommended by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Burma/Myanmar and is currently supported by sixteen countries: Australia, Belgium, Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Hungary, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Slovakia, the United Kingdom and the United States.

However, time is quickly running out. The EU is currently drafting the text of the 21st United Nations General Assembly Resolution on Burma, to be finalized in August. That resolution must contain a call for the establishment of a COI. Unless we urge our governments to speak up in support of a COI, it is unlikely that the UNGA Resolution will include it. That outcome would be unacceptable, allowing brutal human rights violations to continue unabated.

We are urging you to adapt (as required) and urgently send the enclosed letter to your government. However, we urge you not to stop there. We also urge you to call or, better yet, visit with your foreign ministry and seek a commitment from them to support the COI.
The establishment of a COI in Burma would not only be a positive step for Burma but for the world, as it would signal as step towards the establishment of the rule of law and intolerance for impunity in the international system. This can only help us all.

Should you have further questions, do not hesitate to contact Jeffrey Vogt at the ITUC at jeffrey.vogt@ituc-csi.org and tur@ituc-csi.org. Please keep us advised of the outcome of your initiatives.

Best regards,

Sharan Burrow

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