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Chinese Firms Given Free Rein to Abuse Workers in Myanmar

Myanmar Chinese Investors Businesses abuse human rights violations Burmese workers

YANGON – Already battered by a military junta happy to kill anyone who opposes it, Myanmar workers also are being abused by Chinese businesses and investors with little concern for human rights.

Nearly 100 human-rights violations complaints were filed by Burmese workers in Chinese factories and businesses in Myanmar  between 2013 and 2020, the Business and Human Rights Resource Center reported.

Two women in a Chinese-owned factory said they exposed to many human rights violations, all with the blessing of the foreign owners.

When they went to authorities, Burmese officials – both before or after the coup – did not take any action against the Chinese investors, exacerbating violations and inciting reprisals from their employers.

“Ma Thuzar”, a member of the Myanmar Labor Union, said Myanmar recorded more rights cases at the BHRRC than any other nation, although the organization doesn’t operate in every country, such as China.

“A lot of the cases involve sexual harassment happening to female laborers inside the factory. Those factories are mostly owned by Chinese investors. And also, they’re touching them accidentally or purposely doing to female laborers,” Ma Thuzar said. “In this kind of case, some of the laborers didn’t dare to talk, so suffered the consequences like harassing more and more.”

He added that if any dispute between worker and employer occurred, “laborers always lost and suffered”.

“Chinese investors hired gangs to beat the laborers. Even though we have proof and evidence, the authorities didn’t do anything,” Ma Thuzar said. “They didn’t dare touch Chinese business investors.”

Factory worker “Ma Khin Lay” said conditions inside Chiense factories are “terrifically worse” than Burmese-owned businesses.

“After the coup, the owner of my factory oppressed workers even more. When we tried to complain, the owner threatened to fire us.”