Geneva, June 19, 2019
To affiliated organisations (To the Executive Committee for information)
Concerns: Urgent Reminder – Solidarity with our affiliate HLOB in Myanmar
Dear Sisters and Brothers, The struggle for trade union rights and recognition in support of our affiliate HLOB at the Hotel Tharabar Gate in Bagan, Myanmar is at a critical juncture, and we are calling for international support and solidarity. The union has faced continual attacks since it was formed and registered four years ago. In August 2018, management terminated union chairman Nay Myo Winalong and 11 other workers, including two members of the union executive and 7 active union members. After all attempts at negotiation failed to achieve reinstatement, an end to harassment and good faith negotiations, the union established a solidarity picket on public space in October. Twenty-three union members announced they would not cross the picket line and joined the picket/solidarity camp. On December 11, police acting on the orders of local authorities destroyed the solidarity camp and picket. The following day, the union organized a peaceful march to the regional government authority to protest this attack. Police violently dispersed the march and 13 protesters were arrested, including union members and leaders from Hotel Tharabar Gate. The 23 union members who joined the picket in solidarity with the 12 dismissed in August were terminated. On March 1, 2019, the chairman and 5 other HLOB leaders and members were convicted under the Law on Peaceful Assembly and Peaceful Procession for attempting to hold a peaceful procession. The 6 trade unionists were each sentenced to one month’s imprisonment and arrested immediately after the verdict was pronounced, an unmistakable announcement by the authorities that trade union activity in Myanmar is now criminalized. The six were released from prison on March 29 after serving their full sentences; the unjust criminal convictions will weigh on them throughout their lives. HLOB continues to fight for the reinstatement of the union members and officers terminated last August and the 23 members who were terminated in December for refusing to cross the union picket in solidarity with the 12. In December 2018, the IUF lodged a formal complaint against the government of Myanmar with the ILO Committee on Freedom of Association. In March 2019, IUF members around the world demonstrated at Myanmar embassies and diplomatic missions to demand the release of the six and reinstatement of all victimized union members.
We know that the government of Myanmar is feeling under pressure. More pressure is needed to win justice for our members’ struggle for their rights and defense of freedom of association. The Secretariat therefore requests affiliates to: • Send protest letters by priority post (a draft protest letter is attached) and email a pdf version (where email is an option) or fax the letter to the nearest Myanmar embassy with a request to transmit the letter to the government in Naypyidaw. Myanmar has a limited number of representations (embassies, consulates, missions) abroad; there is a list here https://evisa.moip.gov.mm/Home/EmbrassyLink And here https://www.embassypages.com/myanmar • Send a delegation to visit the diplomatic representation and deliver a letter to the government, with a request to be informed of any response. We are not requesting demonstrations, but photos of delegations visiting the embassy are much appreciated. If you have already done this, return visits add to the pressure! Please send copies of any letters you might send or photos of visits to diplomatic representations to email@example.com and we will pass them to our sisters and brothers in Myanmar; • Publicize the conflict and your union’s support to your members, to the wider labour movement through social and general media.
Thanking you in advance for your support for this important struggle, I am Yours in solidarity,
Sue Longley General Secretary
Encl.: Sample letter to the government of Myanmar