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Newsline: EU diplomat in Myanmar accused of endangering activists’ lives

The EU ambassador in Myanmar is putting trade unionists’ lives at risk by publicly “denigrating” them, they say. Western activists agree. Brussels says: “No”. The ambassador, 62-year old Italian Ranieri Sabatucci, who is a career EU official, risked inflaming persecution of unionists by “openly undermining the credibility” of groups such as Confederation of Trade Unions Myanmar and the Industrial Workers’ Federation of Myanmar (IWFM), the IWFM’s president Khaing War Aung said in a letter to EU institutions on 12 July. Sabatucci did so at an international ambassadors’ conference in Yangon in 2021, for instance, but also “more than once”, War Aung wrote. And this was a “very risky situation for our lives and freedom”, she warned, in an environment in which trade unions have already been driven underground and some of their people “tortured” and “killed” in the junta’s prisons. “Instead of protecting and supporting our work with the EU, the EU ambassador in Myanmar publicly denigrated and questioned our representative organisation, thus offering an opportunity to the junta to further repress us,” she said. (https://euobserver.com/world/155546) The Sabatucci clash comes after trade unions urged EU fashion brands present in Myanmar to pull out on grounds of “slave-like” working conditions for women in the garment sector. It also comes after unionists urged the EU to suspend trade perks for the junta due to its “war crimes and crimes against humanity” more broadly speaking.

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