Fighting for democracy in Myanmar
UNI honours Myanmar Labor Alliance and workers with Freedom from Fear Award
UNI Global Union has recognized the remarkable bravery of workers in Myanmar and the Myanmar Labor Alliance in risking their freedom and their lives in the struggle to restore democracy in the country.
Enraged by the military coup in Myanmar on 1 February 2021, trade unions and civil society organizations launched a civil disobedience movement to demand the restoration of Aung San Suu Kyi’s democratically elected government.
Thousands of civil servants quit government jobs, railway workers stopped trains, and private sector workers staged national strikes, including 6,000 members of the Myanmar Bankers Union (MBU) and the Bank Workers Trade Unions Federation of Myanmar (BWTUFM).
On receiving UNI’s Freedom from Fear Award on behalf of the Myanmar Labor Alliance and the workers of Myanmar, Sanda Soe, Assistant General Secretary of the Confederation of Trade Unions, Myanmar said:
“Fighting against this brutal military regime is not easy. It is very tough. We know that we have to take risks. We will be arrested, we will be tortured, we will be imprisoned and then we will be killed…But we have no choice. We have to fight against them to take back people’s power. Brothers and Sisters, with your recognition, with your solidarity support, we will continue our fight until we win. The military dictatorship must fail. Our revolution must win!”
Over a thousand people have been killed and thousands of activists, including trade unionists, have been imprisoned. More than 60 people have been sentenced to death.
UNI has joined the entire global trade union movement in condemning the military coup, and demanding that the military generals restore democratic order and release all political prisoners.
UNI’s Management Committee also released a statement pledging to do everything possible to support the fight for rights and democracy in Myanmar, and has written to multinational banks urging them to immediately divest from shareholdings in companies linked to the military regime, reinforcing this demand on the global day of action for Myanmar on 15 September.
UNI General Secretary, Christy Hoffman, said:
“It is significant that the award should be given this week, exactly one year since democratic elections in Myanmar that have been so brutally overturned. We applaud the courage and determination of workers in Myanmar together with the Myanmar Labor Alliance in their persistent and unrelenting pursuit of democracy. Their actions have galvanized the entire global labour movement, and indeed the world, in support. We stand by them and will not rest until democracy is restored.”
The Freedom from Fear Awards are presented each year to individuals and organizations who have demonstrated commitment to union organizing and the promotion of workers’ rights and a world free from fear.