BURMA, ILO DIFFER ON LABOR GROUP PRESENCE IN BURMA


2002.02.28
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WASHINGTON, March 1 - The head of an International Labor Organization (ILO) mission to Burma told Radio Free Asia (RFA) that the Southeast Asian country will permit the stationing of an ILO liaison officer in its capital, Rangoon. But Francois Maupain also said that the ILO wanted further talks to ensure that the presence of the global worker-rights watchdog would be "meaningful" and that it viewed moving a liaison officer to Rangoon as an interim solution only. The United Nations and Western governments have long criticized Burma for a poor record on human rights, including its history of forced labor. In November 2000, the ILO called on its 175 member governments to tighten sanctions on Burma and review their dealings with it to ensure they weren't supporting or profiting from the use of forced labor. The ruling State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) "mentioned that they would be ready to accept an ILO liaison officer there during our talks in Rangoon," Maupain said in an interview. "We indicated to them that this could be a positive step in the right direction but... the objective was to establish a meaningful representation in Myanmar and that therefore the modalities of this meaningful representation should be discussed," he said. "That is, the liaison officer should be only an interim solution towards a meaningful representation." Burma has rejected previous ILO requests to open a permanent office there. Maupain returned Monday to Geneva, where the ILO is headquartered, after a seven-day visit to Burma. The Burmese military seized power in September 1988 after suppressing a nationwide pro -democracy uprising. It held national elections in 1990 in which Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi�s National League for Democracy won by a wide margin, but the junta has refused to honor those election results. Radio Free Asia (RFA) is a private, nonprofit corporation broadcasting news and information to listeners in those Asian countries where full, accurate, and timely news reports are unavailable. Created by Congress in 1994 and incorporated in 1996, RFA aims to deliver such news reports-along with opinions and commentaries-and to provide a forum for a variety of voices and opinions. RFA currently broadcasts in Burmese, Cantonese, Khmer, Korean, Lao, Mandarin, the Wu dialect, Vietnamese, Tibetan, and Uyghur. It adheres to the highest journalistic standards and aims to exemplify accuracy, balance, and fairness in its editorial content.

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