Visit by Ms Aung San Suu Kyi, Chairperson of the National League for Democracy and Member of Parliament in Myanmar to the Workers’ group

Statement | Genève | 14 June 2012

First of all thank you for the support that you have given me throughout the years personally, and thank you for the support that you have given to our workers’ and to the movement to gain democracy and free human rights – not just for workers, but for all our people.

I should have mentioned in my speech this morning – I meant to – but in the rush to prepare all the speeches for this trip, I left out one important matter – connectivity.

Between trade unions and workers’ association all over the world – I would like you to help to promote this – that our trade unions should be in a position to connect with trade unions in other countries and that our migrant workers in Burma, and migrant workers in other places all over the world, should also have the right and the opportunities to connect up with trade unions and workers’ associations everywhere.

I would like to consider this a priority. Because in the end I think that is what is going to count. The links between trade unions and workers everywhere will strengthen our trade union movement within Burma and open our workers up to the possibilities that other places have already achieved for themselves. So this would be my request. That please, try to link up the whole trade union and workers’ movements – but not in a narrow way – not just concentrating on workers’ issues, but on the broader human rights issues, the broader issues of democratic institutions – that would help us greatly.

We are in a position where we are just starting out on the road of democratization and ask repeatedly whether this is completely irreversible; and my answer is that we cannot yet say whether it is irreversible until we know that all elements within our society, including the military, are totally committed to this process. But even when we get to the point when we can say that democracy is irreversible, we will be faced with the problems that many countries in the world are facing today.

I spoke earlier of youth unemployment and the problems resulting from that, but yesterday I was speaking to a German friend whom I met at Munich airport – we hadn’t seen one another for I think 40 years! – and she was talking about the problems that young people in Germany were facing – drink, drugs – and I said but you are a rich country. Why is it that you are facing those problems? Because we think that our young people take to drink and drugs because they have no jobs, there’s no hope for them, they don’t know what the future holds. But why are your young people getting into the same position? And she said that it was something to do with the values of today’s global society.

And I would like to hear from you what we could do to make sure that these values set our young people along the right path. Because very soon the world is going to be in their hands.