Press Release

ILO marks third anniversary of Myanmar military takeover with call for the release of trade union leaders and all those unjustly detained

01 February 2024

  • Deep concern expressed at continual erosion of civic space and trade union rights in the country.

GENEVA (ILO News) – On the third anniversary of the military takeover in Myanmar, the International Labour Organization (ILO) Director-General Gilbert F. Houngbo has repeated his call for the immediate release of all those detained for exercising their civil liberties and carrying out legitimate trade union activities.

"The future well-being of Myanmar depends on a peaceful transition to full democratic rule, which begins with the release of all those who are unjustly imprisoned. There can be no future for the people of Myanmar if it is not firmly anchored in the social justice they so richly deserve," he said.

The Director-General highlighted the case of Thet Hnin Aung, General Secretary of Myanmar Industry Crafts & Services Trade Unions Federation (MICS-TUsF) who according to reports was sentenced to seven years imprisonment in late 2023 following the completion of an earlier sentence.

“The sentencing of Thet Hnin Aung is a case for deep concern. The continual erosion of civic space and trade union rights in Myanmar, as highlighted in ILO’s recent Commission of Inquiry report, are unacceptable. Thet Hnin Aung and all those detained for carrying out legitimate trade union activities will not be forgotten,” Houngbo added.

The case of Thet Hnin Aung was specifically addressed in the report of the ILO Commission of Inquiry (CoI) on Myanmar. The CoI was established by the ILO Governing Body in March 2022 tasked with assessing reports of violence against trade union leaders, severe and repeated violations of basic civil liberties and a resurgence of forced labour.

The incarceration of Thet Hnin Aung, along with ongoing actions that both undermine the civil liberties of trade union leaders and members, and undercut the labour movement, will inform the follow up to the CoI report at the March 2024 session of the ILO Governing Body.

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Steve Needham

Senior Communications Officer ILO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific

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