Burma: ILO calls for release of six activists
Geneva, 11 July (AKI) – The International Labour Organisation on Friday called for the release of six labour activists who were arrested after attending a Labour Day event last year.
The six activists, Thurein Aung, Kyaw Kyaw, Wai Lin, Nyi Nyi Zaw, Shwe Joe and Aung Naing Tun, attended the event on 1 May 2007 at the American Center of the US Embassy in Rangoon.
Each of them were sentenced to at least 20 years in jail for assembling at a public place without authorisation, according to their lawyer, Khin Maung Shein.
On 27 June, Burma’s Supreme Court rejected an appeal by the activists to reduce their jail terms.
According to the ILO, which is an agency of the United Nations, the Burmese Supreme Court had denied the appeal despite requests by the ILO and the International Labour Conference for their release.
The ILO executive director for the office of Standards and Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, Kari Tapiola, said that through the appeal they had hoped that the sentences would have been annulled and all six activists would have been released.
Tapiola said that securing the release of the activists remains a priority for ILO.
Burma’s ruling military junta recent pushed through a constitution that will assure the military’s control over any elected government. It has promised to hold polls sometime in 2010.
ILO slams Myanmar for keeping six “labour activists” in jail
Jul 11, 2008, 11:08 GMT
Yangon – The International Labour Organization (ILO) on Friday blasted Myanmar’s Supreme Court for denying an appeal by six activists to overturn their lengthy jail sentences for attending a Labour Day event.
Thurein Aung, Wai Lin, Kyaw Min, Myo Min, Nyi Nyi Zaw and Kyaw Kyaw were arrested on May 1, 2007, after attending a Labour Day function at the American Centre of the US Embassy in Yangon.
A Myanmar court sentenced Nyi Nyi Zaw and Kyaw Kyaw to 20 years in jail and the other four to 28 years for assembling at a public place without authorization.
Myanmar’s Supreme Court on June 27, this year, turned down an appeal by the six to reduce their lengthy jail terms for such a minor offence, said their lawyer Aung Thein.
‘It was our hope that their appeal to the Supreme Court would result in the quashing of their sentences and their immediate release,’ said Kari Tapiola, ILO executive director in charge of standards and fundamental principles of rights at work.
‘It would have been hoped that in view of the government of Myanmar’s publicly expressed intent to take the country into general elections in 2010, that the fundamental freedom of association rights would be respected,’ added Tapiola.
Having recently pushed through a constitution that will assure the military’s control over any elected government, Myanmar’s ruling junta has promised to hold polls sometime in 2010.
Myanmar, also known as Burma, has been under military rule since 1962. The government has one of the world’s worst records in human rights and labour rights abuses.