Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Your union dues at work

A communiqué from the world peak union body:

Preliminary Key Findings of a Joint FIDH-ITUC Mission on Burma

Paris-Brussels, 23 October 2007: After the September crackdown on peaceful protests in Burma, the International Trade Unions Confederation (ITUC) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) decided to send a joint international fact-finding mission on the Thai border with Burma to collect first-hand information on the wave of repression. The objective was also to discuss with Burmese pro-democracy and human rights groups about possible international strategies to contribute to the democratization of the country.

The mission, composed of four members from Australia, Belgium, and Thailand, stayed in Bangkok and on the Thai-Burma border from October 13 to 21. The mission did not travel to Rangoon or central Burma as the risks involved for the people interviewed would have been too high.

The joint fact-finding mission made some observations on the vexed question of sanctions:

“Negative signals to the SPDC need to be combined with signs of encouragement to the Burmese people” added the mission delegates Vanloqueren and Tate. All organizations from the Burmese democratic movement in exile repeated their call for immediate sanctions on trade and investment in the three ‘milkcow’ economic sectors that provide vital support to the military regime (oil and gas, timber and mining, including gems and minerals). While Burma saw a 2000% increase in FDI between 1995 and 2005, 95% of the population lives with less than 1$ day, and 90% with less than 0.65$ a day.

“Sanctions hurt the regime and the crony elite, not the people, living from agriculture or the informal economy” mission delegates were told many times. Economic sanctions from the EU, whilst not as impactful as a freezing of Burma-China or Burma-ASEAN trade, are seen by Burmese democrats as a moral issue and a positive signal to the people living inside Burma.

The organisations met by the mission also discuss and consider ways to bring the SPDC generals to account for the crimes they committed. Most interviewed persons thought increased pressure would help, not hurt the existing possibilities of political dialogue.

The root causes of the protests have not been addressed. The fuel price rise, the widespread violations of economic and social rights as well as the severe restrictions on civil liberties, the lack of rule of law and the impunity of the authorities are fueling the desire for change more than ever.

Hmm, wonder how the businessmen’s unions (ACCI, BCA, etc.) are going with their humanitarian efforts to free Burma’s oppressed people. No, really, I’m genuinely interested. I’ll have a google when I get a moment...


Using the search facilities of both the Australian Chamber of Commerce & Industry and the Business Council of Australia websites yields absolutely zero results from both on the topic of Burma/Myanmar. The ACTU website, by contrast, has ample material on Burma, clearly aimed at imposing world domination fostering international solidarity.


Blogger Father Park said...

The article would be good. You'd need to know just who it was that was spoken to I'd think - and on behalf of exactly whom they speak.

The "informal economy" rings true but how many (outside the regime and cronies) living in Rangoon and other urban centres would be effected by sanctions?

In any case, good on the ITUC, better than snapping a shot of a Sydney street on your mobile.

24/10/07 10:13 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home