Three months since his arrest by the Myanmar military junta on 28 February, there is still no updates on the whereabouts and safety of U Win Zaw Myo Htet - a Physics lecturer at the University of Mandalay and executive member of the Myanmar Teachers Federation.

U Win Zaw Myo Htet is one of many university and technical institute staff persecuted for protests and strike action against the Myanmar military. Last week over 125,000 teachers, including some in the tertiary sector were formally suspended by the junta. Many had already been on strike for months without pay.

UnionAID has been assisting workers and unions participating in Myanmar’s civil disobedience movement, including hardship support for 44 university and technical institute staff, including clerks, lecturers, assistant lecturers, and tutors who have been on strike for over two months. The Tertiary Education Union donated $1,000 in April to assist this work.

The tragic situation in Myanmar is the worst case of a growing trend towards authoritarianism and erosion of human rights in Asia, happening under the cloak of COVID-19 in Myanmar. UnionAID’s partners in Thailand, the Philippines and India, all report increased repression in recent years. Not only are unions key to protecting the livelihoods and safety of working people through COVID-19 and the economic recession, but they play an important role in defending democracy.

Now is an important time to support trade unions in developing countries across Asia and the Pacific by making a donation to UnionAID’s special appeal which is in its final days.

Michael Naylor, UnionAID executive officer