Responding to the urgent need to promote and uphold peace, democracy, and human rights in the region, the ITUC-AP Regional General Council Meeting adopted five resolutions during its meeting on 10-11 March 2021. In particular, the Resolutions outlined the issues, the calls addressed to respective governments, and the actions that ITUC-Asia Pacific should take in response to the trade union repression in Afghanistan, the political suppression in Hong Kong, the anti-labour policies in India, and the military coup in Myanmar. Besides the country-specific resolutions, the ITUC-AP also adopted a Resolution to support its continuing campaign and advocacy on the elimination of nuclear weapons.
The attacks on workers’ rights and freedoms in the Asian and Pacific region have been unprecedented, especially in Afghanistan, Hong Kong, India, and Myanmar. Felix Anthony, President of the ITUC-AP, declared, “It is in these challenging times that the trade union movement must break its silence and take actions to reclaim the rights and freedoms that we have secured in the past.”
He said, “The systematic and unrelenting violations of the freedom of association of ITUC-AP’s affiliate, National Union of Afghanistan Workers, Employees (NUAWE), has been going on for three years. We call on the government of Afghanistan to cease its suppressive actions against NUAWE, including the freezing of NUAWE’s bank accounts, revocation of the union registration, and the appropriation of NUAWE’s assets.”
Further, he encouraged the affiliates to continue to extend their solidarity to fellow trade unionists in Hong Kong – Lee Cheuk Yan, Carol Ng, and Winnie Yu – who have been arrested and charged by the Hong Kong police for their participation in pro-democracy protests. He also reiterated ITUC-AP’s demand to the Hong Kong government to respect its obligations under the international labour and human rights treaties and uphold the fundamental rights and freedom of Hong Kong citizens.
Meanwhile, Felix Anthony commended the Indian trade union movement for uniting in the struggle against the proposed anti-labour policies of the government towards the restoration of the fundamental freedoms of workers in India. On the other hand, he expressed his grave concern over the ongoing military coup in Myanmar that has claimed over a hundred of lives of Myanmar citizens who fight for their democracy.
Shoya Yoshida, General Secretary of the ITUC-AP, affirmed his full support and solidarity to the Confederation of Trade Unions Myanmar (CTUM) and the people of Myanmar in their struggle to reclaim peace, justice, and democracy in their country. Addressing the members of the ITUC-AP Regional General Council, he said, “Continue to exert pressure on your national governments so that they demand the Myanmar military to immediately release all the detainees under the coup, return the political power to the civilian government, stop the violent suppression of peaceful protests, and respect the fundamental rights of the people, including the right to strike, freedom of expression and assembly, and right to freely choose their own government.”
Shoya Yoshida also reaffirmed the commitment of ITUC-AP in the campaigning and advocating for nuclear disarmament. He urged governments that have not signed or ratified the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) to take immediate and concrete actions to address this omission. Likewise, he encouraged affiliates to “continue building workers’ power and raising their voices in solidarity for peace, disarmament, democracy, and rights everywhere towards the total elimination of nuclear weapons.”
ITUC-AP believes that the trade union movement’s commitment to taking actions on the foregoing issues is critical in the promotion of peace, democracy, and human rights, ultimately serving the interest and welfare of workers in the region.