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Joint-Statement: Global Action Day

Global Action Day Against Forced Labour in Burma

November 30, 2000

As the first time in its 81-year history, the International Labour Organization (ILO) had invoked its Forced Labour Convention and adopted punitive measures against Burma calling for action by its tripartite constituents and fellow international organizations. 

The Governing Body of the International Labour Organization (ILO) on 16 November 2000 decided that it was "not satisfied" that Burma had taken the necessary steps to fulfill the recommendations of the ILO Commission of Inquiry. Thus, ILO has paved the ways for multilateral and bilateral actions against the Burmese regime for what an ILO Commission of Inquiry called "widespread and systematic" use of forced labor. The measures, which will take effect from 30 November, include calls for UN agencies, governments, employers and workers to review relations with Burma and "cease as soon as possible any activity that could have the effect of directly or indirectly abetting the practice of forced or compulsory labour" in Burma. 

The decision on Burma is a landmark in the history of the oldest UN agency, which stands firmly against human rights violations, perpetrated by the military regime in Burma. We all know that the Burmese military junta is dependent on forced labour for its survival. 

Since its bloody take-over of power in September 1988, the regime has been widely using forced labour not only by its army units in the field throughout the country but also in its various so-called developmental projects such as construction of roads, bridges, and railways. 

The International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) which has well-documented these forced-labour incidents in Burma has said that over 800, 000 Burmese are subjected to forced labour daily in Burma. 

Although Burmese junta had issued on November 1 a directive prohibiting the practice of forced labour in the country in the face of eminent ILO's firm decision, the use of forced labour is still widespread throughout the country, particularly in the areas of ethnic minority nationalities. According to the ICFTU, more than a million Burmese are still subjected to forced labour, toiling on construction sites for roads, railways, military installations and tourist infrastructure.

On this Day of Action against Forced Labour in Burma, We members of pro-democracy groups of Burma would like to call upon the United Nations agencies and the tripartite constituents (governments, employers and workers) of the ILO to follow up the ILO's decision by introducing strong punitive actions against the Burmese regime which perpetrate daily horrific human rights abuses against the people of Burma. 

We call upon the governments and employers to cease relations and all cooperation with the military regime of Burma until a democratically elected government is restored in the country, which guarantees fundamental rights of the citizens.

We particularly call upon trade unions worldwide to step up pressure against the Burmese regime by taking concrete actions. Some of the recommended actions are:

1.	Impose total ban on investments in Burma,
2.	Suspend or withdraw all the multinational companies investing in Burma, particularly those which are involved in construction of tourist infrastructure and gas pipelines, 
3.	Cancel all the planned trips of tour operators to Burma,
4.	Organize pickets in front of Burmese embassies,
5.	Support ICFTU's suggested actions such as stopping the supply of essential services to the Burmese embassies worldwide and flooding with faxed protest letters to the Burmese embassies.

All Burma Students League (India)	
Free Burma Action Committee (Australia)
Burma Labour Solidarity (Thailand)	
League for Democracy in Burma (Japan)
Burmese Students' Association (Rachburi, Thailand)

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