ILO condemns coup in Myanmar

Director-General International Labour Organisation (ILO) Guy Ryder has expressed grave concern over the situation in Myanmar following the removal of the civilian government by the military.

Ryder’s intervention follows reports of intimidation and threats against workers and trade unionists peacefully protesting and asking for the restoration of civilian rule.

Civil servants who participate in the protests have also been threatened with dismissal and penalties.

Describing democracy and freedom of association as being intrinsically linked, the ILO said: “I call on the military to immediately remove orders restricting assemblies of more than five persons, a halt to the repression of dissenting voices and the full respect of workers’ fundamental and human rights and freedoms. I urge military leaders to ensure no workers, including civil servants are detained, intimidated or harassed for participating in peaceful protests.”

Ryder stressed that the right of assembly, freedom of opinion and expression and, in particular, freedom to hold opinions without interference, constitute civil liberties that were essential for the normal exercise of trade union rights.

He also highlighted the obligations flowing from Myanmar’s membership of the ILO and its ratification of the key ILO Convention on Freedom of Association and Protection of the right to organise 1948 (No.87), and underlined the importance of the ILO’s continuing work to eliminate forced labour in the country.

“I urge military leaders to uphold commitments under the Convention to ensure that workers and employers are able to exercise their freedom of association rights in a climate of complete freedom and security, free from violence and threats,” he said.

The ILO is continuing to monitor events closely, through its office in Yangon, and is particularly concerned for the security and well-being of its worker and employer constituents, for which it would hold the military authorities accountable.

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