Aung San Suu Kyi and Labor Rights

Yesterday at the 100th Conference of the International Labor Conference of the ILO. Labor rights issues are massive in Burma, with workers and every citizen having little protection against being forced to work on military projects, forced into military service, or not allowed a decent wage.

Here are some quotes from her speech:

Here I would like to make a special appeal for my own country, Burma. Once upon a time it was considered the nation most likely to succeed in South-East Asia. But now it has fallen behind almost all the other nations in this region. The work of the ILO in our country has highlighted the indivisibility of social, political and economic concerns. In its attempt to eliminate forced labour and the recruitment of child soldiers, the ILO has inevitably been drawn into work related to rule of law, prisoners of conscience and freedom of association…

Six months ago, the National League for Democracy and other organizations and individuals who have been struggling for political change in Burma established a people’s network that incorporated social and humanitarian projects into a broad programme for democracy and human rights. The growth, rapid beyond our expectations, of this network is evidence of the indivisibility of social, economic and political concerns, and of the hunger of our people for a society secured by acceptable norms of social justice joined to political and economic progress..

We look to the ILO to expand its activities in Burma to help usher in an era of broad-based social justice in our country. We are particularly concerned that our workers should be enabled to form trade unions, concerned with the highest international standards as soon as possible. Labour rights are integral to the triumphant development of a nation and, once again, may I reiterate the declaration of faith of the ILO that failure in one nation raises obstacles in the way of progress in all other nations. Burma must not be allowed to fail and the world must not be allowed to fail Burma.

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