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Repression In Myanmar, China, Colombia, Venezuela

UN Labour Agency Discusses Repression In Myanmar, China, Colombia, Venezuela

The United Nations labour agency has called on the Government of Myanmar to release three people who were convicted for high treason for contacts with the agency’s representatives.

The 289th session of the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) Governing Body, ending last Thursday, also strengthened anti-terrorist security measures by adopting new identification procedures for more than a million seafarers.

In Myanmar, two of the three prisoners in Yangon’s Insein Prison, identified as Min Kyi, also known as Nai Min Kyi, and Aye Myint, alias Myint Aye Maung, were interviewed for about two hours each by ILO representative ad interim Richard Horsey and ILO Facilitator Lèon de Riedmatten.

The prisoners said they had been beaten and deprived of food, water and sleep during several days of interrogation by military intelligence, ILO said. Its representatives “consider they have been condemned on unsound grounds and thus should be released.”

The ILO team asked for a meeting with a third prisoner, Shwe Mahn, alias Zaya Oo, and was told that the request would go to the appropriate government minister.

The Governing Body examined its projected joint Plan of Action against the use of forced labour , which has been suspended since the end of May but has been approved by Myanmar’s opposition leader, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. The ILO Committee on Freedom of Association said Myanmar’s legal basis for freedom of association was absent and workers were alleged to suffer repression for any trade union activity or any complaint about a labour grievance.

The Committee noted last week that its call for a review of the cases and the release of workers’ leaders in China had not been acted on.

The number of labour union activists reported killed in Colombia in 2003 now totalled 70, it said, urging the government to punish all those responsible.

In Venezuela, 19,000 workers had been dismissed for trade union activities and one member of the Federation of Construction Workers had been murdered. The ILO Committee called on the government to institute an independent investigation into allegations of detention and torture.

With regard to the new identification document allowing 1.2 million seafaring workers to go ashore in ports where their vessels berth, ILO said the workers’ governments must make sure the documents are “designed in a simple manner, be made of durable material, with special regard to conditions at sea and be machine-readable.”

The document materials used should prevent tampering and falsification, as far as possible, and enable easy detection of alterations, it said.

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