No guarantee of rights due to breakdown of the rule of law

Worse than last year


Myanmar is one of the 10 worst countries in the world for working people

  • Brutal repression of strikes and protests

  • Arbitrary arrests

  • Repressive laws

In 2021, Myanmar descended into systemic violence against workers and harsh suppression of civil liberties as the military junta, which seized power on 1 February, relentlessly cracked down on the crowds of protesters calling for the return of democracy.

Daily demonstrations were met with increasing brutality, and at least 550 persons were killed while hundreds more have been wounded and over 2,700 have been arrested, charged or already sentenced.

The Myanmar military continued unabated its oppression as it planned the adoption of a cyber law to extend control and repression of freedom of speech.

Workers' rights violations

Right to free speech and assembly

As Myanmar’s military coup escalated with the violent suppression of popular dissent, hundreds of people were arrested and detained without any due process. The military junta continued its descent into authoritarianism with its planned cyber law, which would give the authorities sweeping powers to block any content, placing the entire population under surveillance and eliminating freedom of speech.

The military released the planned law on 9 February 2021 with a spurious six-day “consultation” window. Even questioning an action of the junta online will lead to imprisonment and heavy fines. The law includes under its cyber-crime framework “written and verbal statement against any existing law” and “offences committed locally and internationally”, meaning that persons outside Myanmar who criticise the junta face the prospect of action by the Myanmar military.


Since the military coup of 1 February 2021 in Myanmar, crowds turned out in force to call for the return to democracy and the restoration of the rule of law. Despite being faced with extreme brutality by the state forces who resorted to lethal force and mass arrests, their determination did not abate.

In early March, a coalition of labour unions called a strike with the goal of a “full, extended shutdown of the Myanmar economy.” Workers in several industries joined the protest movement, most notably from the state railway and the banking sector. Police intimidated railway workers in Mandalay, the country’s second biggest city, by roaming through their housing area one night, shouting and randomly firing guns.

In Yangon and elsewhere, raids are carried out nightly after the 8 p.m. curfew by police and soldiers firing guns and stun grenades and staging selective raids to arrest people. The arrests are often carried out at gunpoint, without warrants.

The total number of people killed in weeks of unrest has risen to at least 550 (at the time of writing), while hundreds more have been wounded and over 2,700 have been arrested, charged or already sentenced.

Myanmar is one of the ten worst countries for working people as a military coup led to systemic violence against working people.Stringer / Anadolu Agency via AFP

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