The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) on Wednesday called on the Nigerian government to join the global outrage against the entrenchment of military dictatorship in Myanmar.
In separate letters to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, and the leadership of the National Assembly as part of the celebration of the International Democracy Day, the NLC President, Ayuba Wabba, said Nigeria and the international community cannot afford to continue watching the situation continue degenerating under the military dictatorship in Myanmar.
Wabba said since February 1, 2021, when General Min Aung Hlaing led the Myanmar military to stage a coup against the democratically elected government of Myanmar, more than eight months after the military has continued to entrench and perpetuate a climate of rights violations and abuses in the country despite global outrage and umbrage.
“The Nigeria Labour Congress still condemns strongly the sustained military rule in Myanmar as an aberration of the international democratic order.
“Since the military coup in Myanmar, more than 900 people have been killed, 5,000 civilians arrested and 300,000 workers dismissed for joining the Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM).
“Over 175,000 persons have been displaced. The coup and the third wave of COVID-19 have halved the income of 83% of the families, and more than 25 million people in Myanmar are now living in absolute poverty.
“We call on the Nigerian Government to take urgent action against the military coup to end the human rights catastrophe in Myanmar. Organized Labour in Nigeria fully supports the Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM) and the trade union movement in Myanmar to end the military rule and restore the civilian government elected in November 2020,” Wabba said.
The NLC President said the international trade union movement was the first to call on the international community to formally recognize the national unity government (NUG) of the Republic of Myanmar established on April 16 2021 by the democratic parliamentarians elected in November 8, 2020 elections.
Also, he said workers, through the Confederation of Trade Unions of Myanmar (CTUM), supported the NUG’s tripartite delegation to the 109th International Labour Conference (ILC), which included U Maung Maung, President of the CTUM (Confederation of Trade Unions Myanmar) and member of the National Unity Consultative Committee (NUCC); the NUG consultative body; and CTUM general secretary, Sandar Soe, elected by the International Labour Organization (ILO) Governing body to represent the voices of the fighting people of Myanmar and the civilian democratic government they elected.
The NUG, made up of all the ethnic representatives, he said, is deliberating a new federal democratic constitution and amending the labour and citizenship laws.
Assuring NUG’s commitment to respect the international obligations of Myanmar before the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court regarding the human rights violations of the Rohingya people, Wabba said all governments, including Nigeria, have an obligation to also lend their support.
At the 109th ILC Conference, the NLC President said workers succeeded in blocking the military-led State Administration Council (SAC) from representing the State of Myanmar, in alignment with the interim decisions of the previous sessions of the UNGA, the World Health Conference and the 42nd Conference of the Food and Agricultural Organization.
He said this decision would be reviewed again at the 76th UNGA this month.
However, he said the reaction of the military administration was the escalation military crackdown and raids of trade union offices and more arrests, including most recently the arrest of Thet Hnin Aung, general secretary of the Myanmar Industry Craft and Service-Trade Unions’ Federation (MICS-TUsF), on July 13, 2021.
Despite the arms embargo, the NLC President said the Myanmar military was still financed to buy ammunition to kill civilians instead of purchasing COVID-19 vaccines for the people.
“The dire human rights situation in Myanmar has been exploited by the military to continue dividing UN Member States which are bound by the resolutions of the Human Rights Council, the UNGA and the ILC, which clearly state that the wishes of the Myanmar people expressed in the electoral results last November must be respected and that democracy must be restored in Myanmar.
The NLC said demand on the Nigerian government was pursuant to the 2021 ILO resolution for a return to democracy and respect for fundamental rights in Myanmar, which specifically recommended that member States should support the restoration of democracy in Myanmar, including through the United Nations, other multilateral bodies, regional groupings and dialogues, and bilateral engagement, as appropriate.
“Nigerian workers support the recognition of the National Unity Government (NUG) as the legitimate government representing the people of Myanmar at the United National General Assembly (UNGA) taking place from 14 to 30 September 2021 in New York.
“We urge the Nigerian Government to support, at the next United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in September, the call of the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar to officially recognize the National Unity Government (NUG) as the legitimate government representing the people of Myanmar.
“Recognition of the NUG by individual governments worldwide, and at the UNGA in particular, is crucial in order to mount pressure on the military junta to stop the violent repression of the people, to return power to a civilian democratic government, to facilitate access to the humanitarian aid inside Myanmar, and to resolve the Rohingya crisis.
“In addition, we call on our government for bilateral recognition of the NUG, following the example of the Czech Republic and a growing number of Western and Asian countries,” Wabba said.