Written by U Ne Oo on 2000-03-20

Dr U Ne Oo

18 Shannon Place

Adelaide SA 5000


March 20, 2000.

[ Juan Somavia ]


The International Labor Office

CH-1211 Geneva 22, Switzerland

Facsimile:(41-22)799-8533 (DG's Office)

Facsimile:(41-22)798-8685 (ILO Central Office)

Dear Director-General:

re: Situation of Forced Labor in Burma

I am a Burmese national currently residing in Adelaide, Australia. I firstly thank the International Labor Organisation for conducting inquiry on the practice of forced labor in Burma and publishing that report on July 1998. I also thank the Governing Body of ILO for initiae Governing Body of ILO for initiating the resolution on Burma that has been endorsed by ILO Conference last June.

Enclosed are documents concerning with human rights and political situation in Burma:[1] Transitional Phase and Prospect for Change in Burma, January 1998 and [2] a communication on 31 January 2000. I have also enclosed two statements issued by the Committee Representing the People's Parliament in Burma. We, the Burmes We, the Burmese exiles, are very concerned because, as noted in recent report by US Department of Labor, the practice of forced labour in Burma continues despite condemnations made by ILO and international community.

The forced labor has been the most discussed issue at the UN Human Rights forums over the years. I believe the best way to improve situation of forced labor is the United Nations to send in-country human rights monitors to Burma. I therefore ask the ILO Governing body request the United Nations Security Council to send the human rights monitors to Burma at this session of Commission on Human Rights meeting.

I also like to draw attention of the Director-General and Governing Body of ILO regarding with the status of SPDC/SLORC. In July 1998, the ILO Commission of Inquiry recommended, "[1] Myanmar must bring the Village Act, 1907, and Towns Act, 1907, in line with forced labor Convention, namely, Convention No. 29 of 1930. Certain provisions of this law are also to be put in line with the Convention;".n line with the Convention;". The SPDC/SLORC in response had put forward a decree on 14 May 1999 to amend the Village and Towns Acts, of which ILO Governing Body considered that decree to be not a valid amendment to the Acts.

In fact, the SPDC/SLORC does not have the legitimate authority to promulgate any laws regarding Burma. This fact has been noted in Special Rapporteur's report [A/52/484 recom.(e)] as:

(e) Constitutionality and the rule of law should be re-established, and SLORC orders and decrees should no longerhould no longer be the basis of law. All laws rendering violations of human rights legitimate should be repealed immediately, and all laws should be given due publicity. The principle of no-retroactivity of penal laws should be respected in all circumstances;

Therefore, the SPDC/SLORC has no capacity to amend the Village and Towns Acts as requested by the ILO Commission of Inquiry.

In this connection, I wish you and ILO Governing Body to take note of two statements issued on 17th and 28th of September 19f September 1998 by the Committee Representing the People's Parliament (CRPP). In its statement on September 28, 1998, the CRPP has been making measures to review and revise the Village and Town Acts concerning with the conscription of forced labor. I believe the CRPP, as the representative committee of democratically elected parliament, has the legitimate authority to amend the Village and Towns Acts in Burma. Only the CRPP has the capacity to fulfil above mentioned recommendation of the ILO Commission of Inquiry. I therefore urg therefore urge the ILO Governing Body to seek advisory opinion of International Court of Justice to ascertain the CRPP does have authority to amend the Village and Towns Acts in Burma.

I also urge the Governing Body of ILO to find ways to compensate the population effected by the forced labor. I believe Government of Burma must pay monetary compensation to those villagers who have to perform forced labor since 1988. The International Court of Justice, if possible, should make the rulings that such laborers in Burma must be gBurma must be given adequate compensation for their work.

In closing, I thank you and ILO for your continuing efforts to improve the situation in Burma.

Yours respectfully and sincerely

Sd. U Ne Oo.


1. Hon. Rajsoomer Lallah, Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Burma, Switzerland.

2. Hon. Alexis Herman, Secretary of Labor, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, US Department of State, USA.

POSTED TO INTERNET: 6:00AM, 25-JU 6:00AM, 25-JUN-99.


The decision by ILO to bar the delegation of SPDC/SLORC from attending the ILO forums is most welcomed. This decision to expel SPDC/SLORC's delegation from UN(ILO) forums is also consistent with the United Nations General Assembly Resolutions, which repeatedly questioned the legitimate authority of SPDC/SLORC over the people of Burma.

This kind of decision, i.e. expel the SPDC/SLORC delegation from UN forum, is also consistent with the non-t with the non-violent strategy to redress human rights violations in Burma. Most important point in this ILO decision is Burma 'as a country' could not be expelled from ILO(United Nations); however, the representative of illegitimate government(SPDC/SLORC) can be expelled from United Nations Agencies. It needs to note that, althouth current ILO decision was made on the ground of Burmese junta's non-compliance about ILO Commission of Inquiry recommendations, such decision to expel SPDC/SLORC from ILO has been made easier by the facier by the fact that SPDC/SLORC is not a legitimate government of Burma.

Such international boycotts, contrary to some comments, are not simply to be considered as the blunt political instrument to simply demoralise SPDC/SLORC. These boycotts, in much non-violent ways, are also to be considered as 'educational tools'. In the case of SPDC/SLORC, which making the false claim as the legitimate government of Burma and having no capacity to redress the situation of forced labour, it should be taught a good lesson. Thogood lesson. Those Burmese Generals, who deluded themselves to be 'the legitimate government of Burma' should now properly understand about their true standing at the United Nations. The Burmese population at large, too, are to be educated about such illegitimate status of the SPDC/SLORC administration: in this regards, our media friends in BBC/VOA/RFA & DVB could certainly help on that.

It has to be said a punishment on SPDC/SLORC is now duly made. However, to improve the situation of forced labour on the ground, the unhindered access for human rights and humanitarian organisation to Burma will be required. We should also focus our energy on this front, too.

With best regards, U Ne Oo.

International Labour Conference

Provisional Record

Eighty-seventh Session, Geneva, 1999

Resolution on the widespread use of forced labour in Myaead use of forced labour in Myanmar (Burma)

Submitted by Mr. Brett, Workers' delegate, United Kingdom, and Mr. Thusing, Employers' delegate, Germany, in accordance with article 17 (2) of the Standing Orders of the Conference

The International Labour Conference,

Reaffirming that all member States have an obligation to apply fully, in law and in practice, the Convention that they have

voluntarily ratified,

&nbs; Recalling that Myanmar (Burma) ratified the Forced Labour Convention, 1930 (N0. 29), and the Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise Convention, 1948 (No. 87), on 4 March 1955,

Taking note of the provision of United Nations General Assembly resolution 53/ 162 of 9 December 1998 and of United Nations Commission of Human Rights resolution 1999/17 of 23 April 1999, which also address the use of forced labour in Myanmar (Burma),

Recalling the decision of the Governing Body to place on the agenda of its November 1999 session an item entitled: "Measures, including recommendations under article 33 of the ILO Constitution, to secure compliance by the Government of Myanmar with the recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry",

Gravely concerned by the Government's flagrant and persistent failure to comply with the Convention, asomply with the Convention, as concluded by the Commission of Inquiry established to examine the observance of the Forced Labour Convention, 1930 (No. 29),

Appalled by the continued widespread use of forced labour, including for work on infrastructure projects and as porters for the army,

Noting the report (dated 21 May 1999) of the Director-General to the members of the Governing Body on measures taken by the Government of Myanmar (Burma) fomar (Burma) following the recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry;

1. Deeply deplores that:

(a) the Government has failed to take the necessary steps to bring the relevant legislative texts, in particular the Village Act and Towns Act, into line with the Forced Labour Convention, 1930 (No.29), by 1May 1999, as recommended by the Commission of Inquiry;

(b) at the end of twentieth century, the State Peaury, the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) has continued to inflict the practice of forced labour -- noting but a contemporary from of slavery -- on the people of Myanmar (Burma), despite repeated calls from the ILO and from the wider international community for the past 30 years;

(c) there is no credible evidence that those exacting forced labour in Myanmar( Burma) have been punished under section 374 of the Penal Code;

2. Resolves:


(a) that the attitude and behaviour of the Government of Myanmar (Burma) are grossly incompatible with the conditions and principles governing membership of the Organization;

(b) that the Government of Myanmar (Burma) should cases to benefit from any technical cooperation or assistance from the ILO until such time as it has implemented the conclusion of the Commission of Inquiry;

 bsp; (c) that the Government of Myanmar (Burma) should henceforth not receive any invitation to attend meetings, symposia and seminars organized by the ILO, until such time as it has implemented the conclusions of the Commission of Inquiry.

Letter to Director-Geoeral of ILO, Juan Somavia