BWI condemns Cambodian Prime Minister's visit to Myanmar

(Photo: Al Jazeera)

The Building and Woodworkers’ International (BWI) joins the condemnation of Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen’s upcoming visit to Myanmar on 07 – 08 January 2022. As the current chairperson of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Hun Sen’s visit undermines ASEAN’s collective stance towards the junta and legitimizes military rule in Myanmar.

In 2021, efforts had been taken by ASEAN to block the junta from attending its summit along with the formulation of the Five-Point Consensus. It calls for a halt of violence in Myanmar, an appointment of a special ASEAN envoy to Myanmar and the prioritization of dialogue and peaceful solutions for the sake of its citizens. Although this consensus was reached in consultation with junta chief, Min Aung Hlaing- the junta has since defaulted on all points. Hun Sen should therefore not compromise ASEAN’s hard-won progress on the Five-Point Consensus, nor act as lone-wolf, ignoring the positions of other ASEAN member states and parliamentarians.

Resolving the violence and unrest in Myanmar is crucial. It has been reported by the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (Burma) that currently 1,437 political prisoners have been killed, and over 10,000 have been arrested, and charged or have a warrant issued against them by military forces. Trade unionists in Myanmar are one of the most sought-after anti-military groups within the country, for their support of the National Unity Government. Prior to the coup, the relationship between democratic government and trade union federations was central to heightened freedom of association and positive labour relations in Myanmar that have since eroded.

BWI will continue sustained efforts with the Council of Global Unions (CGU) and partners within the international community to completely bar the State Administration Council from UN bodies particularly with the International Labour Organization (ILO), and will work for recognition of National Unity Government as the democratically elected government of Myanmar.

BWI calls upon Prime Minister Hun Sen and the Cambodian Foreign Ministry to issue more than a tight-lipped response to queries on whether Hun Sen will meet with Myanmar pro-democratic leaders, or efforts made in this regard. In addition, the BWI urges to uphold the united stance of the ASEAN bloc in rejecting the military’s rule.

Cambodian Prime Minister is the first head of state to make an official visit to Myanmar since the military seized power in a coup on 1 February 2020.