Labor Rights Protestors Forcibly Detained Near Naypyidaw

By Htet Naing Zaw 18 May 2016

NAYPYIDAW — Police in Tatkon Township forcibly detained labor rights protestors marching from Sagaing Division to Naypyidaw, three weeks into the march and just miles outside the capital.

About 100 workers from a plywood factory in the Sagaing Industrial Zone joined the march to the capital in late April, following a failure to negotiate with the company after the dismissal of over 100 employees in February.

Police put up barriers outside Tatkon Township, which is part of the greater Naypyidaw Union Territory, where workers agreed to talk to Myo Aung, chairman of the Naypyidaw Council. Protestors waited for an hour and a half but the chairman never showed up.

The chairman later sent a message saying he would meet with five representatives, but protestors insisted they would all meet with him, a demand township administrators denied.

Around 1 p.m., police removed the barriers and protestors continued their march. Police encircled the group and proceeded to forcibly detain protestors using police shields.

One protestor responded, “It is totally unacceptable for the government we voted for to arrest us now,” adding, “I wish I had cut [off] my pinky,” in reference to the ink that was put on people’s fingers after they voted in the landmark 2015 election.

Tatkon Township administrator Yi Mon said that legal action would be taken against protest leaders but it is likely that women, as well as elderly or sick protestors, would be released.

“The higher level authorities will release them and arrange to send some of them back home,” he said, adding, “We will take action against the rest in line with the law. We are discussing whether or not to sue them.”

A total of 76 protestors were detained and three detainees have been hospitalized, according to Yi Mon.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.