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ICFTU calls on Indonesia to protect seafarers

ICFTU calls on Indonesian authorities to protect detained Burmese seafarers

Brussels, 29 September 2004, (ICFTU Online): In a letter to Indonesian President Megawati Soekarnoputri, the ICFTU has called upon the Indonesian government to protect the rights of six seafarers of Burmese origin, currently being held by Indonesian immigration authorities on the island of Tual. The case has also been raised by the ICFTU with United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Ruud Lubbers.

The six seafarers, Kyaw That Naing, Kyaw Khaing, Ko Myo, Ah Chai, Tin Soe and Ye Yan Naing, are members of the Seafarers' Union of Burma (SUB), affiliated to the International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF, London) and the Federation of Trade Unions - Burma (FTUB).

The six SUB members had Thai passports and Seamen's books, as they had been recruited by agents in Thailand. After arriving in Tual, they were arrested by the local police on 22 August 2004, for not being able to present valid passports. Their passports had been confiscated before they came ashore by, it is understood, representatives of the owners of the Thai fishing vessels on which they were working.

The international trade union movement is concerned that the six seafarers risk being repatriated to Thailand, or even to Burma. On past occasions, Burmese trade unionists and democracy activists have been repatriated from Thailand into the hands of the Burmese military junta, which is notorious for maltreatment, including torture, of opponents of the military.

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The ICFTU has requested the Indonesian authorities to allow the six to avail themselves of Indonesian protection, until such time as political developments in Burma allow their safe return, or that they can be re-settled in another country.

The ICFTU represents 148 million workers in 234 affiliated organisations in 152 countries and territories. ICFTU is also a member of Global Unions: http://www.global-unions.org

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