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

Same as last year

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

  • Brutal repression of strikes and protests

  • Arbitrary arrests

  • Killings

Since the military coup on 1 February 2021 and the brutal repression of subsequent pro-democracy protests, widespread and systematic human rights abuses have continued unabated in the country. On 2 March 2021, the Tatmadaw, the Burmese military, declared 16 labour organisations illegal. Workers and trade unionists were brutally killed and arrested for participating in protests and strikes, and their houses were raided and their belongings confiscated. By March 2022, at least 1,600 people had been killed by security forces and their affiliates and more than 12,500 people detained.

All industrial zones in Yangon were placed under martial law, making it very difficult for workers to organise. Labour dispute resolution and wage protection mechanisms were dismantled, and collective bargaining agreements were not observed.

Workers' rights violations


By mid -September 2021, at least 27 trade unionists had been killed taking part in the Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM) protests against military rule in Myanmar. Twenty-one-year-old Zaw Zaw Htwe, a garment worker from Suntime JCK Company Limited and a member of Solidarity Trade Union (STUM) of Myanmar, was shot in the head by the security forces on 14 March during the protest in Shwe Pyi Thar. Chan Myae Kyaw, a dump truck driver at SinoHydro copper mine and a member of the Mining Workers’ Federation of Myanmar (MWFM), was shot multiple times and killed by soldiers on 27 March in a demonstration in Monywa. On 28-29 March, the military ambushed protesters in South Dagon Industrial Zone, killing Nay Lin Zaw, a union leader at AD Furniture (Wood Processing) and a member of Myanmar Industry Craft Service-Trade Unions Federation (MICS-TUsF).

Right to civil liberties

On 15 April 2021, around 40 military officers were deployed to arrest the director of the Solidarity Trade Union of Myanmar (STUM), Daw Myo Aye. She was charged under section 505A of the penal code for participating in the Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM), leading protests, and encouraging civilians and civil servants to join the CDM. She faced up to three years in prison. Daw Myo Aye was denied bail and remained under detention, with limited access to medical facilities, despite having severe health problems.

Earlier in 2021, arrest warrants for 34 other prominent trade union leaders had been issued and executed. Most of them were summarily prosecuted and sentenced to jail.

Right to trade union activities

After the 1 February coup in Myanmar, the Tatmadaw, the Burmese military, declared sixteen labour organisations illegal on 2 March 2021. All industrial zones in Yangon were placed under martial law, making it very difficult for workers to organise. Union leaders then reported a mass exodus of factory workers from the industrial zones to their hometown rural villages. The military asked factory owners to disclose the names and addresses of trade union leaders to arrest them, and soldiers were sent door to door in the worker dormitories and hostels in a bid to find them. The houses of union leaders were raided and money and other private property were confiscated.

Widespread and systematic human rights abuses have continued in Myanmar since the military coup of 1 February 2021, making it one of the ten worst countries for working people.STR / AFP

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