September 19, 2008 / 11:50 AM / 11 years ago

Myanmar gives labour activist hard labour

A policeman stands among human rights activists protesting outside the Myanmar embassy in Bangkok September 18, 2008. Myanmar's junta has given two years' hard labour to an activist who helped people, including child soldiers, file complaints about forced labour, the ILO said on Friday. REUTERS/Chaiwat Subprasom

BANGKOK (Reuters) - Myanmar’s junta has given two years’ hard labour to an activist who helped people, including child soldiers, file complaints about forced labour, the International Labour Organization (ILO) said on Friday.

The case against Thet Way has become a barometer of whether the former Burma’s ruling generals are serious about stamping out forced labour, which in some cases means carrying military supplies through guerrilla conflict zones, rights groups say.

The Geneva-based ILO said it was “concerned and disappointed” at the sentence, the maximum permissible under the law. It added that it had been in contact with the military government about the case “at a senior level”.

“The ILO cannot but consider that the sentence imposed is related to Thet Way’s role in complaining on forced labour practices,” the United Nations agency said in a statement.

Under a deal reached between the ILO and Myanmar last year, anybody making or supporting those making complaints about forced labour should be immune from prosecution.

Myanmar has been under military rule since 1962.

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