Incarcerated for showing up

Imagine, you’ve just arrrived home from the Amnesty AGM last weekend, filled with ideas for promoting human rights. But at your doorstep you’re met by military officers who arrest you and throw you into an interrogation center. Exactly the same thing happens to your family, simply for being related to you. Most likely all of you will be tortured.

This brutal irony is exactly what has just happened to five Burmese labour activists returning from the historic first congress of the Federation of Trade Unions – Burma (FTUB). Workers such as 22 year old Maung Tun Nyein from the Shwe Hninsi Textile Factory in Rangoon, and Shwe Yi Nyunt, a 25 year old nurses’ aide and member of the FTUB’s women’s committee are now behind bars, for doing nothing more than attending a conference,

The FTUB is one of the few glimmers of hope in Burma. Exiled and labelled a terrorist organisation by the regime, it works to assist members in documenting the atrocious labour rights abuses that take place and in raising awareness of workers’ rights. Yet workers peacefully striving for some dignity in their lives, profoundly threaten a regime built on fear and exploitation. That’s why the TUC believes that free and independent trade unions in Burma are a powerful antidote to tyranny.

The TUC is a determined part of the global outcry against these recent arrests and against the incarceration of some 2,100 political prisoners in total. We join our Burmese trade union sisters and brothers in calling for the release of all political prisoners and the right to operate independent and democratic trade unions.

To add your voice to the call to free all Burma’s political prisoners, please sign the petition hosted by the Burma Campaign UK, and get more details about the national congress of the FTUB.

Ben Moxham

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