Myanmar Military: Never in Fashion campaign is distraught and outraged to hear about the executions of four political prisoners in Myanmar. Their murders add to the over 5,800 women children and men killed since the military coup In February 2021. These executions make the need for comprehensive economic sanctions, which trade unions and civil society organisations in Myanmar have been calling for, even more urgent as the targeted sanctions imposed so far are clearly not enough to stop this brutal regime.

Myanmar Military: Never in Fashion campaigns internationally in support of this call and ensure that brands cease all production in Myanmar and implement a responsible exit to help the democracy movement and force the criminal military dictatorship out of power. The campaign is supported by 200+ unions and other organisations and is co-ordinated by Global Women’s Strike @WomenStrike and No Sweat @No_Sweat.

On 1 February 2021, the military in Myanmar carried out a coup and arrested elected government members. The army and police have responded to widespread peaceful protests with deadly force, shooting live rounds into the crowds. They have killed thousands of people in the past year. Thousands more have been detained, raped and tortured while in custody. This is the same army which has repressed ethnic groups for decades and carried out the genocide of the Rohingya forcing hundreds of thousands into exile.

Women workers and trade union leaders in the garment industry were among the first to oppose the coup and to be killed and arrested. In order to repress the workers’ opposition, military personnel have been deployed at factory gates, arresting workers who don’t support the military. Working conditions have plummeted – long hours for little or no pay, trade unions not recognised, factories closed temporarily or permanently with no compensation. 

Under the previous dictatorship, brands did not operate in Myanmar. They began to trade when partial civilian rule returned in 2010 and signed the Action, Collaboration, Transformation (ACT) committing to ethical standards. Now that military rule has returned, the same ruthless conditions are recurring and workers’ rights cannot be ensured. Why are brands not pulling out? ACT have pulled out but some of the brands that signed on to ACT have not. When Russia attacked Ukraine, brands  pulled out of Russia – why not out of Myanmar?

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