Unions Back Workers in Burma Facing Death Sentence

New Zealand Council of Trade Unions press release, 19 March 2004

The Council of Trade Unions has written to political and military leaders in Burma to protest against the death sentence being passed on nine workers on trumped-up charges of treason, CTU president Ross Wilson said today.

Charges were brought against some individuals on the grounds of making contact with the United Nations' International Labour Organisation (ILO).

One defendant received the death sentence having been found in possession of the report of the ILO Commission of Inquiry on Forced Labour in Burma

“The CTU has strongly condemned the conviction and the death sentence brought against these workers,” Ross Wilson said. “Unions will be seeking a meeting with Foreign Affairs Minister Phil Goff to enlist his support.”

In letters to the Burma Minister of Labour, Tin Winn, and Senior General Than Shwe, Ross Wilson said the CTU was outraged at the workers' treatment and urged that they be released immediately.

“Contact and cooperation with the ILO, an agency of the United Nations, cannot, under any circumstances, be considered as an offence of any nature, still less grounds for a death sentence.

“The very fact that anyone may be prosecuted, let alone condemned, for the possession of ILO materials in itself constitutes a grave violation of fundamental human rights.”

Contact Details
Name: Christine Cessford
Phone: 0064 4 802 3817
FAX: 0064 4 385 6051
Email: christinec@nzctu.org.nz
WWW: http://union.org.nz