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ILO, Burma renew supplementary understanding

New Delhi (Mizzima) – The Burmese military government has agreed with the International Labor Organisation (ILO) to extend the Supplementary Understanding that provides a mechanism of complaint on forced labour for another 12 months.

Burma’s state-run newspaper, the New Light of Myanmar, on Wednesday said that the extension was made on Monday at a meeting between ILO’s Executive Director Kari Tapiola and Burmese Labour Minister Aung Kyi in Naypyidaw.

The agreement will provide a mechanism for complaint to victims of forced labour through the ILO’s liaison officer in Rangoon. It also ensures freedom from harassment and retribution for the complainants and other persons who help in the operation of the complaint mechanism.

The ILO and Burma in 2007 agreed to a Supplementary Understanding, which is renewable after 12 months.

Tapiola, who arrived in Burma on Sunday, will also meet labour rights activists including Aye Myint of the ‘Guiding Star’, a group helping victims of forced labour and child soldiers to seek redressal, on Saturday.

Aye Myint, a labour rights activist, told Mizzima on Wednesday that he had been informed by the ILO’s liaison officer Steve Marshall that Tapiola wants to meet him.

“We will be meeting at the Traders Hotel on Saturday at 10:30 a.m. (local time). Steve informed me that Tapiola wanted to meet people who have been helping the ILO in their mechanism,” Aye Myint said.

Aye Myint said he along with other people, who have helped the ILO in implementation, have also been invited to the meeting.

“ILO has been given limited permission to work in Burma. Though their work is good, they have restricted permission, so the ILO is trying to utilize the opportunity as much as possible,” Aye Myint said.

Forced labour and recruitment of children into the Burmese Army are so rampant in military ruled Burma that rights groups have time and again condemned the junta for doing little to stop it.

While some NGOs have estimated the number of children present in the army to be more than 70,000, the New York-based Human Rights Watch said the number cannot be accurately assessed, because of the lack of information and the junta’s unbridled efforts to stop information flow.

Aye Myint said, in the past one year, he had helped over 100 cases of child soldiers and forced labour complainants to reach out to the ILO.

Editing by Mungpi

Last Updated ( Monday, 05 April 2010 16:58 )  

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