Myanmar trade unions and civil society organizations face existential threat following military takeover

Targeted persecution severely limits ability to operate; more flexible and responsive support from international community needed to avoid collapse of civic space and worker organizing.

Press release | Bangkok, Thailand | 24 August 2022
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BANGKOK, Thailand (ILO News) - The military takeover in Myanmar has taken a severe toll on trade unions and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) providing services to workers and migrants, according to a new report by the International Labour Organization (ILO).

Riding out the storm: Organizational resilience of trade unions and civil society organizations following the military takeover in Myanmar details the severe impact of the February 2021 takeover on trade unions and CSOs.

It highlights how the targeted persecution of these groups, including arbitrary arrests, detentions, acts of violence, raids on homes and offices, seizure of equipment, threatening phone calls, interrogations and surveillance, have substantially limited their ability to operate.

Trade unions and CSOs reported being forced to make major adjustments to their work in response to the heightened safety and security concerns since the military takeover.

“Trade unions and Civil Society Organizations have provided the foundation for much of the progress made on increasing labour rights protection in Myanmar over the last decade. The current state of affairs represents a genuine threat to their existence. The international community must stand with these organizations to help them survive and continue their vital work,” said Panudda Boonpala, ILO Deputy Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific.

The report recommends that the international community increases its flexibility and responsiveness to counter this existential threat to civic space and worker organizing in Myanmar.

For more information please contact:

Steve Needham
Senior Communication Officer
ILO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific
M.: +66 83 606 6628