Khaing Zar Aung from Myanmar is awarded the Arthur Svensson Prize

Khaing Zar Aung from Myanmar is awarded the Arthur Svensson Prize

"Arthur Svensson's International Prize for Trade Union Rights" 2024 is awarded to the courageous trade union leader Khaing Zar Aung from Myanmar.

Khaing Zar Aung is a former garment worker, started working at 16. She became active in the trade union movement 17 years ago when she worked as a migrant worker in Thailand. In exile, she worked on training other migrant workers in their rights. When the democratic transition began, she returned to Myanmar and eventually became the head of the Industrial Workers' Federation of Myanmar (IWFM) and part of the leadership of the largest trade union Confederation of Trade Unions of Myanmar (CTUM) which was banned in Myanmar until 2012. Under her leadership, the union managed to organize the workers, mainly young women, in the textile industry which expanded rapidly as several international brands moved production there due to cheap labour.

After the bloody military coup in 2021, Khaing Zar Aung was once again forced into exile, this time in Germany. She has stood out as the voice of the Myanmar trade union movement in Europe and in global forums. She is fighting the military junta in international bodies, mobilizing for international solidarity, putting pressure on international brands to withdraw from Myanmar, and has campaigned for the EU to withdraw trade preferences as long as the military junta is in power.

The military junta has now been in power for three years using military force. At least 4,600 people have been killed and 25-30,000 have been arrested. Many of these are trade union activists who have taken part in the resistance struggle. The junta does not respect human rights.

The trade union movement has been central to the large protests and the fight against the military junta. A broad alliance of trade unions formed the Myanmar Labor Alliance which helped form a nationwide Civil Disobedience Movement in support of the democratic government (National Unity Government, NUG). Since the military coup, a strong alliance has emerged between various ethnic groups, youth, students, political groupings and trade unions that demand real democracy and a federal state, not just the restoration of what was before 2021. In this alliance, female textile workers with leaders like Khaing Zar Aung play a very important role. Today, the resistance movement is progressing, and there is real hope that it can succeed.

With this award, the prize committee wishes to shine a spotlight on the resistance struggle against the military regime in Myanmar and the struggle for real democracy, including basic labour rights. In this struggle, the trade union movement, trade union representatives and members are absolutely central. Khaing Zar Aung is a symbol of all those who sacrifice all their time for a better society.

Watch the justification on video

In Norwegian

In English

Source >>>år-arthur-svensson-prisen-for-2024?fbclid=IwAR22gTlrrUOwUlezLBw59gtPhT-5JhBLKrvJrxLSXVz9iqzbDuAzZ0kMGRU_aem_AYrdcLsMgiLxEu-fvUTzPlTxGrdPu_4HvJa-NxfcgVtTvbN-TnV1uiVSVSlNyQVBVLKQWsNwN4TMkHrdqQQZakts