JUSTICE & PEACE FOUNDATION
 

  
 justice(2005-05-06 17:14:34, Hit : 9828
 2004-Winner of 8th Award

상명 지학순주교정의평화상 수상회차 The 8th Award
수상일시 10. 12. 2004 수상장소 한국일보 송현클럽
수상자 Yaung Chi Oo Workers
Association
국가 Burma
Introduction of prizewinner
 BACKGROUND OF YCOWA

YCOWA was founded in July 1999 by Burmese student activists and migrant workers, with the goal of improving working and living conditions for the Burmese migrant laborers in the Mae Sot area.

YCOWA concentrates on activities that encourage workers to collaborate with each other to improve their living situations and working conditions. Currently YCOWA has 700 members from 10 different factories, who actively participate in meetings, trainings, and other activities. In addition, YCOWA works with the Law Society of Thailand, MAP Foundation, and other Thai and International NGOs to advocate for increased protection and rights for migrants from Burma. YCOWA is also an active member of the Action Network for Migrants (ANM), a coalition of 15 NGOs that focus on labor, health, and women's rights. Thai NGO Network members include MAP Foundation, Thai Action Committee for Democracy in Burma (TACDB), Rak Thai CARE, Friends for Women Foundation, and EMPOWER. The Law Society of Thailand and sub committee on Stateless, migrants and nationality of the National Human Rights Commission are affiliates.

Aims and Objectives of YCOWA
- To utilize voluntary support to assist Burmese migrant workers working in Mae Sot, Thailand, especially on legal, health, social and religious matters
- To strengthen social relationship among migrant workers
- To provide basic education to children of migrant workers
- To provide relevant trade skills, basic human rights, labor rights to migrant workers
- To facilitate non-violent participation in the Burmese democratic movement by encouraging solidarity among workers
- To occasionally issue information release in order to raise international awareness and report on the oppression and exploitation of Burmese workers inside and outside Burma.

Current activities include:
- Working in collaboration with The Law Society of Thailand and MAP Foundation to assist 250 workers
from the Nasawat Apparel Factory to pursue justice for exploitative working conditions.
- Holding workshops and trainings about labor rights, organizing skills, human rights and democracy.
- Operating two clinic at the migrant communities
- Helping workers find jobs;
- Providing legal assistance for workers who have suffered accidents on the job, being denied their salaries, or being subjected to other labor abuses;
- Providing temporary shelter to workers who have lost their jobs, or are ill, to victims of sexual assault and to women who are pregnant;
- Coordinating social and religious events.
GREETING SPEECH
Dear Friends at Bishop Tji Hak-Soon Justice and Peace Foundation,

Yaung Chi Oo Workers Association (YCOWA) is very honoured and pleased to be selected as the recipient of the 8th Tji Hak-soon Justice & Peace Award. The award and visit to Korea will provide an excellent opportunity to build upon networks, solidarity and mutual understanding between the Burmese and Korean people. YCOWA also graciously accepts the medal and US$10,000 prize money. YCOWAs selection encourages us to continue our work promoting human and labour rights of Burmese migrant workers on the Thai-Burma border, and democracy in Burma. The award recognizes these activites and many years of struggle, so we are very proud of that, and it will benefit the Burmese workers in Thailand through the recognition and promotion of the organization's activities for workers rights and democracy.

Although YCOWA work as an organization began in 1999, many members struggle for promoting human rights and democracy in Burma began with the student uprising in the late1980s. Several YCOWA members were arrested and stayed in prison for promoting these rights. YCOWA was founded in July 1999 by Burmese student activists and migrant workers, with the goal of improving working and living conditions for the Burmese migrant laborers in the Mae Sot area.

YCOWA concentrates on activities that encourage workers to collaborate with each other to improve their living situations and working conditions. Currently YCOWA has 700 members from 10 different factories, who actively participate in meetings, trainings, and other activities. In addition, YCOWA works with the Law Society of Thailand, MAP Foundation, and other Thai and International NGOs to advocate for increased protection and rights for migrants from Burma. YCOWA is an active member of the Action Network for Migrants (ANM), a coalition of 15 NGOs in Thailand that focus on labor, health, and women's rights. YCOWA is also a member of the Asian Transnational Corporation (ATNC) Monitoring Network, which comprises 13 members in eight Asian countries, including Korea.

The award ceremony and the time the YCOWA representative, Moe Swe, spends in Korea is a great opportuniey to build relations and solidarity with Korean groups concerned with situation of Burmese workers and democracy in Burma. Due to constraints on travel for Burmese in Thailand, it is very difficult for us to leave Mae Sot, and even more so Thailand. In fact, this is the first opportunity for Moe Swe to travel outside of Thailand in over three years. For this reason and the fact that YCOWA activities are concentrated on the local, grassroots level, it is not easy to build networks and maintain close relations with regional and international organizations. Therefore, the award ceremony and time spent in Korea is an excellent opportunity to build sustainable relations and links between organizations in Korea, YCOWA and Burmese organizations in Thailand.

In additions to exposure in Korea and networking opportunities for YCOWA, the award helps create greater security for the activities of YCOWA and Burmese workers promoting their rights in Mae Sot. Burmese workers in Mae Sot and YCOWA face contant intimidation, and all too often violence, at the hands of employers, thugs and local authorities when workers attempt topromote the rights they are guaranteed under Thai law. The lack of human and labour rights is a day to day reality for Burmese workers in Mae Sot, and employers and authorities in this and other parts of Thailand have for over ten years suppressed these rights with impunity. The exposure and attention created by this award is very useful for advocacy and promotion of Burmese workers rights in Thailand as it lets employers and authorities know that the situation in Mae Sot is a matter of great concern for the Tji Hak-soon Justice &Peace Foundation in Korea, and their partners in other parts of the world.

The prize money is very useful and appreciated and will be used in conducting training on human rights and democracy, labour rights and other activities of YCO including emergency support for workers facing problems with their employers. Due to the repressive nature of the military Junta which has ruled Burma for over four decades, it is very difficult to access knowledge of human rights, labour rights and democracy inside Burma, so this money used for training on the border is beneficial to promoting these rights in Mae Sot. Importantly, the activities and outreach with workers and democracy organizations in Mae Sot is essential for the future of Burma in building a sustainable democracy and re-establishing our country as one which respects human and labour rights.

YCOWA activities, with the support from the Tji Hak-soon Justice & Peace Foundation and our friends in Korea, are contributing to the promotion of human and labour rights from the grassroots level inside of Thailand, with lasting affects on the future of a democratic Burma.

In Solidarity,

Moe Swe
Secretary
Yaung Chi Oo Workers Association




2005-Winner of 9th Award
2003 - Winner of 7th Award

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