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Burmese junta's new orders prohibit


Burmese junta's new orders prohibiting forced
labour is to remain secret, says ICFTU 13/11/00

Brussels November 13 2000 (ICFTU OnLine):

Burma's ruling State Peace & Development
Council (SPDC) will not provide the country's
national media with the text of new directives
allegedly outlawing forced labour, "since many
Burmese people are illiterate and are too poor
to own radios", a military junta spokesman
said today. "Instead", he said, "the directive
has been sent to police stations all over the country".

The directive, known as "Supplementary Order to
Order 1/1999" , was presented last week by Rangoon
as a major concession to the International Labour
Office (ILO), which has demanded that Burma amend
its laws allowing for the exaction of forced labour,
eradicate the practice and punish those guilty of
imposing it.

The startling announcement came in a fax sent this
morning by SPDC spokesman Lt. Col. Hla Min to a
foreign radio correspondent in Bangkok, according to
the underground Federation of Trade Unions - Burma
(FTUB), which maintains an office there.

Lt. Col Hla Mins's fax was in response to FTUB
attempts to ascertain that the "Supplementary Order"
had been made available to the population via the
country's mass media. On Sunday 12th November, a
Voice of America (Burmese section) reporter spoke to
major Burmese newspapers and to the domestic
service of the national radio station. None had heard
of either Order 1/1999, a similar directive issued last
year under ILO pressure, or the recent "Supplementary
Order" dated 1st November 2000.

An official of the Myanmar News Agency - Radio
section who was on duty on November 1, denied
having heard anything about government instructions
against forced labour. The FTUB-VOA inquiry with the
Kyemone [Mirror] newspaper and the "New Light of
Myanmar", the junta's official mouthpiece newspaper,
drew a similar blank.

According to the Geneva-based Burma Peace
Foundation, "serious doubts now exist as to the
whether the junta has produced a Burmese version of
the "Orders" at all".

In his letter to ILO Director General Juan Somavia of
November 1, Lt. Gen. Khin Nyunt listed Myanmar's
Official Gazette as one of the 18 authorities and
institutions which had received the "Supplementary

Meanwhile, in Brussels today the ICFTU said "fresh
evidence of forced labour is pouring in from Burma's
border areas". It said the latest testimony it had
received was that of a textile worker from Rangoon,
who escaped on Friday November 10 2000 from forced
labour as a porter for the 203rd Light Infantry
Battalion, based in Karen State, on the Burma-Thai

For further details please contact ICFTU
++.32.477.28.63.04 (GSM) or FTUB, Information
Secretary ++.66.1.668.38.58