ILO Met Local Authorities in Chin State
21 May 2011: The International Labour Organisation (ILO) made an ‘unannounced’ visit to Hakha, Chin State this week, meeting with more than 160 officials from across the State’s authorities, according to a statement by Chin Human Rights Organisation (CHRO) today.
During the meeting held on Wednesday, the UN agency raised awareness about the issue of forced labour to the local authorities including general administrative officials, judges, police and Burma Army personnel.
In its statement, CHRO said the visit was an important first step towards tackling the issue of forced labour in Chin State, adding: “The authorities have agreed to distribute the ILO complaint mechanism booklets to the wider population.”
In a State where more than 90 percent of the people have been subjected to forced labor by the authorities, the ILO’s visit was both timely and appropriate, according the statement.
In welcoming the recent event by ILO, Salai Bawi Lian Mang, Executive Director of CHRO: “We hope that the ILO awareness program has positive impacts on the Chin people. On the one hand, the authorities, including the Burma Army, have been clearly informed that it is both illegal to impose forced labor and to punish people for reporting forced labor incident.”
“On the other hand, we hope that more Chin people feel empowered to exercise their right to make official complaint to the ILO against the imposition of forced labor by the authorities.”
In this context, the Burmese authorities have a unique opportunity to demonstrate their commitment by taking proactive and concrete actions to crackdown on the practice of forced labor.
CHRO also stressed actions should be taken to enforce existing domestic laws that criminalize the requisition of forced labor by both civilian authorities and the military, and by taking advantage of the ILO’s expertise and assistance in ending the practice of forced labor in the State.
In Chin State, the Burmese military is the primary institution responsible for the widespread and systematic use forced labor, according to CHRO.
Sources revealed that the Burma Army still exacts forced labor to construct roads and military camps, and forcibly recruits civilian for porters and militia service, on a widespread basis and with complete impunity.
The Chin Human Rights Organization (CHRO), formed in 1995 on the India-Burma border by a group of Chin activists, is a non-profit, non-governmental primary rights-based advocacy organization committed to promoting democracy in Burma, and documenting previously unreported human rights abuses being perpetrated against the Chin people by the Burma army, an instrument of the State authorities.
Van Biak Thang