Myanmar - Union leaders prosecuted for organising peaceful protest march

Eight trade union leaders were prosecuted for organising peaceful protests in February 2019. They were charged for violating the implementation rules to the Law on Peaceful Assembly by the Mandalay authority, which prohibits non-Mandalay citizens from organising public rallies in the city.
More than 2,500 people in Yangon and another 1,000 in Mandalay participated in two rounds of protest actions calling on the government to engage in meaningful consultation with workers.
The first took place on 3 February to press for thirteen demands, including freedom of association, the development of a labour court, and the lifting of restrictions on construction workers joining trade unions. The Confederation of Trade Unions of Myanmar (CTUM) and the Myanmar Industries Crafts and Services Trade Union Federation (MICS-TUF) then applied to hold a second rally, but the public authorities rejected their application on 16 February on the grounds that the applicants were not from the Mandalay district.
The procession went ahead on 17 February, but was disrupted by police and the leaders questioned. The procession had to be called off when the police blocked the unions from approaching the assembly point. The action remained peaceful. Later, however, eight union leaders were officially charged under the Right to Peaceful Procession and Peaceful Assembly Act. The eight included Phyo Sanda Soe, assistant general secretary of the CTUM, and Thaung Nyunt, president of the Mining Workers’ Federation of Myanmar, as well as six MICS-TUF leaders.
CTUM leaders had urged the government to consult meaningfully with workers and implement the recommendations of the 2018 ILO Direct Contact Mission. The processions were organised after the parliament repeatedly failed to engage seriously with the unions.
The ILO Committee of Experts on the Applications of Conventions and Recommendations had specifically warned that the Law on the Right to Peaceful Procession and Peaceful Assembly could give rise to serious restrictions on trade union rights.
After a year’s trial, the president of MWFM was found not guilty while the other seven leaders were fined for MK10,000 and freed on 21 February 2020.

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