ITUC OnLine – September 26, 2007(1)

Brussels, 26 September 2007 (ITUC OnLine): With protests in Burma, led by Buddhist monks and nuns, gathering momentum in recent days the military junta has now reacted with ferocious assaults on the demonstrators.  The Federation of Trade Unions of Burma, an associated organisation of the ITUC, reports today that one monk has been killed by the military, and violent confrontations have taken place in several locations, notably around the famous Shwedagon Pagoda in Rangoon.  Some 700 students, monks and nuns have been beaten by riot police with batons, and at least 20 teargas canisters and a similar number of live bullets have been fired by police in the vicinity of the Pagoda.  Other sources indicate that as many as four people may have been killed, and several hundred arrested.

The ITUC and its Global Unions partners have launched an appeal to affiliates worldwide for global action, including at Burmese diplomatic missions around the world, to increase pressure on the military elite which controls the country. 

“We welcome the announcement of urgent UN Security Council talks today on the crisis, and call for the immediate dispatch of the UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy Ibrahim Gambari to Burma”, said Guy Ryder.  “The world trade union movement is stepping up the pressure, with demonstrations involving trade unions and other civil society groups scheduled for this Saturday in a number of countries”, he added.

The ITUC is deeply concerned at the spiraling violence resulting from the regime’s intolerance of any dissent or opposition, and is convinced that now more than ever, the ruling junta must be placed under the maximum possible international pressure, including economic sanctions against the junta.  These should cover the key sectors including timber, energy and mining.  “The continued repression and flagrant violation of the most fundamental rights by the Burmese junta brings shame on those governments which have neglected to give this problem the attention it deserves, and those commercial interests whose relations with the Burmese military have helped them stay in power, to the terrible detriment of people throughout the country and those who have been forced to flee persecution, torture and abuse”, said Ryder.