SPECIAL SITTING ON BURMA
WORKERS DELEGATE ITALY
Thank you chair,
world is aware, since long time, that the people of Burma are suffering
under one of the world's most brutal and repressive regimes. Business
as usual cannot continue.
You know that the basis of forced labour lays in the economic structure of this criminal- forced labour economy.
junta continues to heavily control and command Burmese economy, failing
to address fundamental problems, such as a highly centralized
decision-making structure; substantial restrictions on private
commercial activity; a disproportionate expenditure in the military
sector, which reaches over 49.9% of the public expenditure, so that in the last ten years it has become the largest army in South East Asia.
Corruption puts Burma at the 142nd place in a list of 145 countries.
to these conditions, Burma can remain the first producer of
methamphetamine in the world and the second producer of opium, after
Afghanistan. In this connection the garment and textile sector is the most important, for money laundering and clandestine export of drug, thanks to the fact that the drug lords, connected to the junta are the main investors in this sector.
know that it is impossible to do business without producing profits for
the junta. You know that the law on state owned enterprises of 1989,
gives the junta and the army the right to control all the key economic sectors. You know that the Union of Myanmar Economic Holdings and its branch: the Myanmar Economic Corporation detain the monopoly of productive economy. The
activities of UMEH and MEC are intended mainly to build the military's
resource base – enabling privileged economic treatment of army officers
and their families.
You know that the junta has promoted companies
in the gas sector, turism, banks gems, real estate, and logging. Joint
ventures become the main logistics and economic support for the
military junta. As an example, in March 2004, EU's FDI represented
30.37 % of the total FDI, mostly investing in
Oil & Gas sector (32.37% of Total FDI in Burma), which is the major
funding for the military regime, which export was about 986.5 $/million.
In 2003/04, Burma's export was 2431.49 million US dollar, among them garment export only, was 334.76 $/million (13.76% of total export) and EU's garment import from Burma share was about 66%, so it was about 220 $/m in 2003/04.
of March 2004, five ASEAN countries (Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia,
Indonesia & Philippines) are investing in Burma, and have committed
US$ 3933.84 million in 170 projects, realizing 51.08% of the total
permitted amount of FDI.
The junta's get-rich-quick economic plans, are based on forced labour perpetuation, brutal exploitation of workers, and more over are devastating Burma's environment, damaging the regional ecological balance, as well as the country's long-term economic prospects.
You know that fifteen years of constructive engagement with the regime and the threats of political
sanctions have failed to bring about a single democratic reform, aimed
at the end of forced labour. This approach has not managed to shake the
core power of the junta, thus impeding any real commitment to eradicate
forced labor. This situation has to be stopped.
fact that still today we are here to discuss on violation of Convention
29, shows the uncompromising nature of the regime, the connection
between the military’s economic base and its political support.
Only a coordinated international action, that tackle the economic power of the junta, can really bring effective changes.
is time that the ILO constituents, the international Financial
Institutions, including the ADB, the Great Mekong Subregion and the connected Trade and Investment Flagship Program, take effective measures, as regards any projects implying direct or indirect involvement with the Burmese state and military companies.
request is not limited to International Financial Institutions, but
targets also those international organizations and NGOs, which maintain
any form of economic relations with the junta. They should reconsider
any cooperation they may engage in, with Burma and assess and report to
the ILO, on the effects of any forms of material or financial
assistance to such government, which could directly or indirectly
support the practice of forced labor.
Governments, employers and workers – should commit themselves to review, their relations with Burma and take suitable
measures, be it legislative, administrative or judicial, including a
recourse to International Court of Justice, as a further mean to ensure
that the junta cannot take advantage of such relations to continue or
extend the system of forced labour.
ask them to ensure that no foreign direct or indirect investment,
imports from or exports to Burma, grants, loans or credits to State
or military-owned enterprises, including those operated by
international private equity funds, contribute directly or indirectly
to such a continuation or extension of forced labor.
over, we appeal once again to governments and the EU to implement art
XX of the GATT, which refers to measures relating to the protection of
human health and measures and to the product of prison labour. It is
more than compatible for governments to take trade measures against the
government of Burma without fear of ill effect.
we call on all those governments and companies which not withstanding
such harsh reality, continue to close their eyes in the name of
business, to take a stand to contribute to the necessary change, which will pave the way for democracy development and a stable economy in which safely invest.