Cecilia Brighi: intervento alla Sessione speciale sulla violazione della Convenzione 29 sulla Birmania Conferenza OIL2006
ITALIAN WORKER REPRESENTATIVE
BURMA SPECIAL SITTING
Thank you chair,
Many previous speakers have clearly underlined that the situation after the last Conference and the November and March GB meetings, has been getting worst and worst. In November 2005 the GB had requested to the Government to take advantage of the time available before March 2006 to resume an effective dialogue with the office. But unfortunately this appeal once again was not heard by the Burmese government. Small promises from the ambassador cannot be confused with concrete substantial facts .
For this reason, the deteriorating political, social and economic situation and the continuous use of forced labor in Burma was taken in due consideration after the last year Conference also by other international bodies, who underlined in various statements the lack of willingness by the Junta to open a serious democratization process to bring to an end the use of forced labor and the deep violation of fundamental human and workers rights all over the country. I would like to mention:
1) in August 2005 the Global Fund against HIV AIDS was oblidged to terminate grants to Burma, due to government restrictions making implementation impossible. Later on other organizations had to take the same decision.
2) the important Report and the call launched in September 2005 by the Nobel Prize Desmond Tutu and the former President of the Check Republic Vaclav Havel asking for an urgent and new diplomatic initiative at the UN Security Council .
According to such Report, the situation in Burma, is much more severe than in any other countries in which the Security Council has chosen to act in recent years. It demonstrates that there are all the determinant factors for the Security Council to put on its agenda the question of Burma. Among such determinant factors there are the forced relocations, forced labor and forced recruitment of child soldiers in a number highly superior to any other country. More over the Report clearly states that Burma internal situation is a threat to the stability of the entire region and for the international community, which would clearly justify the intervention of the Security Council under chapter 7 of the UN Charter.
3) The ECOSOC, decision, after the request from the ILO Director General to reactivate its consideration of the item concerning forced labor, due to the heavy situation, to discuss this matter during its session on 26 of July 2006.
4) On 16 December 2005, the UN Security Council held a briefing on the situation in Burma, which included the situation of forced labor. A second discussion took place just few days ago.
5) The 7th of February report of the UN Special Rapporteur on human Rights Paulo Sergio Pinheiro underlines the widespread and systematic forced labor practices and forced recruitment by State actors including allegation of child labor.
Such report concludes that despite early indications from the government that it was willing to address these problems, the Special Rapporteur who was not authorized to visit the country regrets that all such willingness appears to have disappeared and that recommendations from the UN General Secretary have not been implemented.
He underlined the refusal of the government to acknowledge and address the declining socio economic conditions, the deep rooted and worsening poverty and lack of economic reform, which are moving the country towards an humanitarian crisis. The Special Rapporteur has furthermore issued a statement on the situation of human rights in Burma focusing on the political prisoners and their treatment, which reveals much about the human right situation and lack of progress toward democrac . He said that it is time for the international community to urge the establishment of an independent enquiry into the rapidly escalating number of death of political prisoners in Burma” that should lead to establish the accountability of those responsible.
6) In March 2006 the International Committee of the Red Cross decides to drastically reduce its activities in Burma due to lack of willingness of the junta to cooperate in the protection activity.
7) from the 18 to the 20 the UN Under Secretary Mr. Gambari, visited the country under the General Secretary mandate to seek a fruitful dialogue with the junta. We are deeply concerned for the little of success of such high level talks with the junta. In fact despite the hopes deriving from the possibility given to the UN representative to meet with Aung San Suu Kyi, only a week after such important visit, the junta confirmed the house arrest of Aung San Suu Kyi for another year. In any case even a possible release of the NLD leader, or the today proposal, if not accompanied by concrete reforms and actions to implement the Commission of Enquiry recommendations, the interruption of prosecution against the forced labor complainants, the liberation of all the deteinees and the possibility for trade unions and NLD to operate, would be just smoke in the eyes of the world and another way to try to avoid an international clear action.
8) On the 26th of May, the Presidency of the EU Union expressed deep concern for the junta stepping up of pressure over the ethnic groups. A further statement Austria on behalf of the EU condemned the decision by the SPDC to extend ASSK house arrests. “ this decision is another sign that the Burmese government is unwilling to compromise and move in the direction of an all inclusive democracy” .
considering the constant unwillingness of the junta to adopt relevant measures to address, once for all, the issue of forced labor, and given the fact that its arrogant silence derives also from inconsistent behavior of many governments, but also from the deaf conduct of many multinationals, who continue to do business with the junta, despite the ILO Director General appeal to revise their relations with Burma, we urge governments regional financial organizations and institutions, such as the EU to address in a wider and consistent way the issue of foreign direct investments thus considering all kind of economic relations both with the military and with the state. It is important to reiterate that any business even though not connected with forced labor, because is strengthening the dictatorship economic power is indirectly contributing to the perpetuation of forced labor.
Such business as usual is in fact leading in Burma to the proliferation of industrial zones, which now reached the number of 19, with 8.000 private industries, while the new Thilawa zone is being created to absorb inflow of new foreign investments. Companies should be obliged to avoid business with state or military owned enterprises and we urge at national levels that monitoring and custom control systems should be set up with the ILO constituents participation.
We finally would like more over to reiterate our request that the Conference mandates the Officers of the Governing Body to address the next ECOSOC session.
And that in light of the lack of consistent commitment from the junta to eradicate forced labor, it is the time for the ILO to refer the matter formally to the Security Council and the International Court of Justice for an urgent advisory opinion.
Finally we want to recall to the members of this Committee, to the governments and to the employers once again, that the use of forced labor, as underlined by the Commission of Inquiry, if committed in a widespread or systematic manner, as it happen to be in Burma is also to be considered a crime against humanity and should be treated consequently.
Therefore we urge the Committee to adopt strong and operative conclusions that would pave the way to the Selection Committee discussion.
It is not any more time for a “wait and see option. After 30 years it is time to give a hope to the Burmese people.