On February 1, 2021, General Min Aung Hlaing led the Myanmar military to stage a coup against the democratically elected government of Myanmar. The coup attracted global outrage and umbrage. Unfortunately, more than eight months after the coup, the military government in Myanmar continues to entrench itself and perpetuate a climate of rights violations in the country.
The Nigeria Labour Congress, strongly condemned the military coup in Myanmar and we still condemn the sustained military rule in Myanmar as an aberration of the international democratic order.
Since the military coup in Myanmar, more than 900 people have been killed, 5,000 civilians arrested and 300,000 workers dismissed for joining the Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM). Over 175,000 persons have been displaced. The coup and the third wave of Covid-19 have halved the income of 83% of the families, and more than 25 million people in Myanmar are now living in absolute poverty.
We call on the Nigerian Government to take urgent action against the military coup to end the human rights catastrophe in Myanmar. Organized Labour in Nigeria fully supports the Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM) and the trade union movement in Myanmar to end the military rule and restore the civilian government elected in November 2020.
The international trade union movement is the global democratic force that first called on the international community to formally recognise the NUG of the Republic of Myanmar established on 16th April 2021 by the democratic parliamentarians elected in the 8th November 2020 elections. Workers, through the Confederation of Trade Unions of Myanmar (CTUM), supported the NUG’s tripartite delegation to the 109th International Labour Conference (ILC), which included U Maung Maung, President of the CTUM (Confederation of Trade Unions Myanmar) and member of the National Unity Consultative Committee (NUCC); the NUG consultative body; and Mrs Sandar Soe, CTUM general secretary, elected by the ILO Governing Body to represent the voices of the fighting people of Myanmar and the civilian democratic government they elected.
The NUG, made up of all the ethnic representatives, is deliberating a new federal democratic constitution and amending the labour and citizenship laws. The NUG is committed to respecting the international obligations of Myanmar before the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court regarding the human rights violations of the Rohingya people.
At the 109th ILC Conference, workers succeeded in blocking the military-led State Administration Council (SAC) from representing the State of Myanmar, in alignment with the interim decisions of the previous sessions of the UNGA, the World Health Conference and the 42nd Conference of the Food and Agricultural Organization. A decision will be reviewed again at the 76th UNGA in September. The SAC reacted with escalated military raids of trade union offices and more arrests, including most recently the arrest of Thet Hnin Aung, general secretary of the Myanmar Industry Craft and Service-Trade Unions’ Federation (MICS-TUsF), on 13th July 2021.
Despite the arms embargo, the Myanmar military is still financed to buy ammunition to kill civilians instead of purchasing Covid-19 vaccines for the people. The dire human rights situation in Myanmar has been exploited by the military to continue dividing UN Member States which are bound by the resolutions of the Human Rights Council, the UNGA and the ILC, which clearly state that the wishes of the Myanmar people expressed in the electoral results last November must be respected and that democracy must be restored in Myanmar.
We recall that the 2021 ILO resolution for a return to democracy and respect for fundamental rights in Myanmar specifically recommends to Member States that they support the restoration of democracy in Myanmar, including through the United Nations, other multilateral bodies, regional groupings and dialogues, and bilateral engagement, as appropriate.
Nigerian workers support the recognition of the National Unity Government (NUG) as the legitimate government representing the people of Myanmar at the United National General Assembly (UNGA) taking place from 14 to 30 September 2021 in New York.
We urge the Nigerian Government to support, at the next United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in September, the call of the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar to officially recognize the National Unity Government (NUG) as the legitimate government representing the people of Myanmar.
Recognition of the NUG by individual governments worldwide, and at the UNGA in particular, is crucial in order to mount pressure on the military junta to stop the violent repression of the people, to return power to a civilian democratic government, to facilitate access to the humanitarian aid inside Myanmar, and to resolve the Rohingya crisis.
In addition, we call on our government for bilateral recognition of the NUG, following the example of the Czech Republic and a growing number of Western and Asian countries.
We would appreciate the opportunity to meet with you in the near future to discuss this matter more in depth.
Please accept the renewed assurances of our highest esteem.
Comrade Ayuba Wabba, mni