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Burma: Regional left support for workers’ struggle

February 13, 2010 -- The statement below has been signed by the Working People’s Association (Indonesia); Confederation Congress of Indonesia Union Alliance; the Singapore Democratic Party; the Socialist Party of Malaysia; Socialist Alternative (Australia); Socialist Alliance (Australia); Socialist Worker New Zealand; Young Democrats (Singapore); Partido ng Manggangawa (Philippines); Congress of South African Trade Unions; Partido Lakas ng Masa (Philippines); World Federation of Trade Unions (Asia Pacific Region); Movement for the Advancement of Student Power (Philippines); Canadian HART; Free Burma Campaign (South Africa).

If your organisation would like to sign this statement, email international@prp-indonesia.org.

* * *

Workers at Burma’s Taiyi shoe factory and Opal 2 garment factory began a strike on February 8, 2010. They are demanding a salary increase, a reduction of working hours and the provision of a clean space for meals.

The strike started in the Mya Fashion garment factory in the No. 3 Factory Zone of Yangon’s Hlaing Thrayar Township.

Now, the workers are being blocked from leaving the factory zone by riot police trucks. At least 50 trucks packed with riot police carrying assault rifles and shields were dispatched. No one has been allowed to enter.

Police are securing roads surrounding the Hlaingtharyar Industrial Zone, about 11km outside the biggest city, Yangon.

Overall, working condition in Burma are worsening. The Burmese military regime is pro-foreign capital and depends on cheap wages and deplorable working conditions to attract foreign investment.

Like other democratic rights in Burma, the rights of workers, such as the freedom to form trade unions, are also being repressed.

The rise of working-class struggle is a good sign for the possibility of fundamental changes in Burma. The rise of working-class struggle should be supported by all peoples’ movements in Burma and internationally. We support the struggle of Burma's working class and demand:

• The workers’ just demands be fulfilled;

• An end to all forms of repression against workers; and

• Full democratic rights for workers, including the right to organise, build independent trade unions and form political parties.

We declare our fullest support for the people of Burma to build a democratic nation. Only with a democratic Burma can prosperity and justice can be achieved.

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Statement Solidaritas untuk Perjuangan Kelas Buruh Burma

Perhimpunan Rakyat Pekerja (Indonesia), Parti Sosialis Malaysia, Singapore Democratic Party, Socialist Alternative (Australia), Konfederasi Kongres Aliansi Serikat Buruh Indonesia, Socialist Workers (Selandia Baru), Socialist Alliance (Australia), Young Democrats (Singapura), Partido ng Manggangawa (Philippine), Congress of South African Trade Unions, Partido Lakas ng Masa (Philippine)

Buruh di pabrik sepatu Taiyi dan pabrik garmen Opal 2 mulai melakukan pemogokan pada hari senin, 8 Februari 2010. Mereka menuntut kenaikan upah mereka yang saat ini sebesar 10.000 Kyat (US$ 10), pengurangan jam kerja dan peraturan mengenai tempat yang bersih untuk makan. Pemogokan dimulai di pabrik garmen Mya Fashion di Zone Industri No 3 di Kabupaten Hlaing Thrayar, Rangoon.

Sekarang para buruh tersebut diblokade oleh truk polisi anti huru hara, setidaknya 50 truk lengkap dengan polisi anti huru hara membawa senjata api dan tameng diturunkan. Para buruh dicegak meninggalkan zone industry dan tidak seorangpun diijinkan masuk. Polisi mengamankan jalan-jalan yang menuju Zona Industri Hlaingtharyar, sekitar 11 km diluar kota terbesar Burma, Yangon.

Secara keseluruhan kondisi perburuhan di Burma sangat buruk. Kondisi tersebut tidak terlepas dari kebijakan Rejim berkuasa yang pro terhadap modal asing dengan mengandalkan upah rendah dan kondisi kerja yang tidak layak. Sementara itu sama seperti hak-hak demokratis masyarakat lainnya, hak-hak demokratis kelas buruh seperti kebebasan untuk membangun serikat buruh juga ditindas.

Kebangkitan kelas buruh di Burma adalah tanda yang sangat baik atas kemungkinan terjadinya perubahan fundamental di Burma. Kebangkitan tersebut harus mendapatkan dukungan solidaritas dari semua gerakan rakyat di Burma maupun ditingkatan internasional. Oleh karena itu kami organisasi yang bertanda tangan dibawah mendukung perjuangan kelas buruh Burma dan menuntut:

  1. Tuntutan para buruh yang mogok harus segera dipenuhi.
  2. Menolak segala bentuk represi terhadap para buruh yang menuntut hak-haknya.
  3. Kebebasan bagi kelas buruh untuk membangun serikat buruh yang independen dan termasuk membuat partai politik

Kami juga menyatakan dukungan sepenuhnya kepada rakyat Burma untuk membangun Burma yang demokratis. Karena hanya dengan Burma yang demokratis maka kesejahteraan dan keadilan dapat dicapai.

Jika anda ingin ikut menandatangani statement ini, silahkan hubungi: international@prp-indonesia.org

Australia breaches Burma arms embargo

The following statement was released by Burma Campaign Australia on February 9.
Burma Campaign Australia condemns the Australian government’s decision to take part in a regional military exercise that includes Burma’s navy and questions if Australia is in breach of its arms embargo.
The Australian navy is taking part in a military exercise with 13 other countries in Indian waters. Burma’s navy, an integral part of the country’s military, is also participating in this exercise.

Burma Campaign Australia’s spokesperson Zetty Brake said: “Less than one year ago, the Australian government announced its support of a global arms embargo against Burma, and now we are participating in exercises that includes a part of Burma’s military.

“Australia has a long-standing arms embargo against Burma’s military dictatorship — we would not sell them weapons, so why does the Australian government think that it is acceptable to participate in military exercises with them?

“DFAT has previously said Australia does not provide any training to Burmese military personnel. Given these military exercises, we question if Australia is in breach of its arms embargo.”

The countries involved in the navy exercises are Australia, Bangladesh, Brunei, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam.

The exercises cover a range of issues such as piracy, terrorism and disaster relief. Brake said the military dictatorship is the biggest disaster in Burma.

“The military attacks innocent civilians destroying entire villages, systematically violates human rights, imprisoned Burmese citizens providing aid following Cyclone Nargis and stops life saving humanitarian aid from reaching people in eastern Burma.

“The military dictatorship will never allow Burma’s navy to use the skills gained from these exercises to help the people of Burma and Australia would be naive, at best, to believe that.

“Yesterday, foreign minister Stephen Smith talked about sending a confusing signal to Burma’s military dictatorship. What message is Australia’s participation in these military exercises sending to Burma’s millions of oppressed men, women and children?”

[Reprinted from Green Left Weekly.]

Petition to defend Burmese migrants in Thailand

http://www.PetitionOnline.com/g111257i/petition.html

Uphold and Protect the Rights of Migrants:

Online Petition to Stop the Impending Massive Crackdown of

Undocumented Migrant Workers in Thailand

 

We the undersigned are calling on the Thai Royal Government to reconsider its decision to launch a massive crackdown on nearly 1.4 million undocumented migrant workers in Thailand after February 28, 2010.

February 28 is the last day for all migrant workers with two-year permits to undergo a national verification scheme, being conducted by the Thai Royal Government for supposed verification and extension. Those who will not sign up will be arrested, detained and deported.

As in previously recorded cases in Thailand and Malaysia among others, the crackdown will surely result in abuse and inhuman treatment of migrant workers, many of whom are from Cambodia, Laos and Burma.  

 Eighty percent of the 1.4 million are Burmese, many of whom are refugees who fled their country fearing persecution. The crackdown will endanger not only their refugee status but their security and safety once they are forced back to Burma.

The other targets of this crackdown are almost a million migrants because they were never registered or are dependents of such.

Such a massive undertaking of the Thai Royal Government will violate the ASEAN Declaration on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers which the Thai government itself co-signed in 2007, among many other international human rights laws and conventions.

Thus we call for the following:

1) We reiterate our call to the Thai Royal Government to reconsider its decision to pursue the crackdown and instead abide by the ASEAN Declaration on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers which includes the following general principles and commitments respectively:

a)       The receiving states and the sending states shall, for humanitarian reasons, closely cooperate to resolve the cases of migrant workers who, through no fault of their own, have subsequently become undocumented;

b)       Extend assistance to migrant workers of ASEAN Member Countries who are caught in conflict or crisis situations outside ASEAN in the event of need and based on the capacities and resources of the Embassies and Consular Offices of the relevant ASEAN Member Countries, based on bilateral consultations and arrangements;

2) We also call on the Thai Royal Government to abide by international humanitarian laws and instruments

3) We call the attention of the governments of the migrant-sending countries to immediately plan for the safety of their respective citizens in Thailand who will be affected should the massive crackdown push through after February 28. Migrant workers returning to their home country must be supported by their respective governments.

Migrant workers, regardless of their status, have rights that need to be upheld, promoted and protected. They deserve just, fair, equal and human treatment.

Thanks,

Gi Estrada
Program Coordinator

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