Sunday, 21 October 2012

Min Ko Naing

Min Ko Naing (born 18 October 1962), whose name literally means “conqueror of kings” was born Paw Oo Tun in Rangoon (Yangon), Burma. He is the President of Universities Student Union, Burma, however never approved official. He is one of the most well-known political dissidents in Burma

He was born in Yangon. He is third son of U Thet Nyunt and Daw Hla Kyi. His parent are mon-chinese race from Mudon in Mon State. He has three brothers and sister. They are Daw Kyi Kyi Nyunt, Daw Ye Ye Nyunt, Daw Thadar Nyunt. He attended No.4 Basic Education Middle School, Thingyangyun Township, Yangon. At August 28 1988 he was the chairman of All Burma Federation of Student Unions (ABFSU). He live in No(151/Ka), Waizayantar Road, (16/2) Ward, Thingangyun Township, Yangon.

Early life/student years

Min Ko Naing’s interest in politics began at the Rangoon Arts and Science University in the mid-1980s where he studied Zoology. During his student years, he was an active member of the arts club, where he enjoyed reading, writing poems and drawing cartoons, especially satirical ones. According to people who knew him, Min Ko Naing was a member of a performance troupe which took part in the traditional Than Gyat competition during the annual Water Festival Thingyan in April, called “Goat-Mouth and Spirit-Eye” and performed satirical plays and sketches satirizing Myanmar’s government and the lack of freedom and democracy.
Student unions at that time, as now, were illegal in Burma; however he and other students formed secret study groups in anticipation of protests against the worsening economic conditions in Myanmar. As the first signs of serious public unrest in Burma began to appear in 1985, the year Ne Win’s Burma Socialist Programme Party demonetized the 100-kyat note, Min Ko Naing and his close colleagues secretly established an underground student union in anticipation of a political uprising.

Involvement with All Burma Federation of Student Unions

Min Ko Naing formed and organized the All Burma Federation of Student Unions (ABFSU), a nationwide student union to oppose decades of illegitimate military rule. The student union has largely contributed to the 8888 Uprising, during which millions of people marched on the streets, protesting against the dictatorship ruling the country and calling for democracy. Unfortunately, the military regime, now known as the State Peace and Development Council, responded to the uprising with brutal force, gunning down up to 10,000 persons.

15 years political imprisonment until 2004

Min Ko Naing has been forced to go “underground”, continuing his organizing work while being forced to hide and to move from house to house every night, in order to avoid arrest. After several months,however, he has been captured along with other students and sentenced to 20 years’ imprisonment, under Section 5(j) of the 1950 Emergency Provisions Act, vaguely-worded legislation which is frequently used to imprison political prisoners, for instigating, according to the military regime, “disturbances to the detriment of law and order, peace and tranquility”. His sentence was commuted to 10 years under a general amnesty in January 1993.He has been considered a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International, which intensively campaigned for his release.
According to Amnesty International, Min Ko Naing has been severely tortured and ill-treated during the early stages of his detention and his health suffered as a consequence. During his interrogation he was reportedly forced to stand in water for two weeks until he collapsed, and as a result, his left foot became totally numb. In 19 November 2004, he was released from prison, after being imprisoned for 15 years.

Second political imprisonment

However, after almost two years of his release in 2004, Min Ko Naing, along with other four leading student leaders, was rearrested in late September of 2006. The other four arrested student leaders were Ko Ko Gyi, who was freed from prison in 2005, Htay Kywe, Min Zeya and Pyone Cho. Despite the military regime’s insistence that it was just taking these student leaders into detention for questioning, the authorities later confirmed the arrest of Min Ko Naing, as well as the other student leaders, stating that the five student leaders were held as a precaution against what the regime called internal commotion, instability and terrorism. After heavy criticism about the arrests and demands for his immediate release, the authorities released Min Ko Naing on January 11, 2007.


From 10 October 2006 to 18 October 2006 (his 44th Birthday), a nationwide campaign, “White Expression” was held to pressure the military government to release him and all of political prisoners. The rest 88 generation students (who were not arrested by junta at that time) organized the campaign. Participants wore white clothing in a show of support for the release of all political prisoners. The 88 generation students also organized the signature campaign to pressure the junta to release him and all political prisoners. It was started a week after Min Ko Naing and four colleagues were arrested. Many well-known artistes from Myanmar (such as Ludu Daw Amar and Zarganar) signed in the petition.
His 88 Generation Students group organized a campaign called “Open Heart Campaign”. It was launched on January 4, 2007, Independence Day of Myanmar. He said to the Irrawaddy Magazine that the campaign was to encourage the people to exercise freedom of expression. People could write to State Peace and Development Council leader senior general Than Shwe about their feelings under the military government.
He and his 88 Generation Students group conducted “White Sunday” campaign from 11 March 2007 to 20 May 2007 to express support to family members of political prisoners. They visited the families of political prisoners in Yangon (Rangoon) every Sunday during this period

Political imprisonment in 2007

He was arrested again around midnight on 21 August 2007, with other 13 leaders of the 88 Generation Students for organizing peaceful demonstrations. United States Government condemned the Burmese junta’s arrest of them.

International Awards Min Ko Naing has won international awards for his efforts, such as the Civil Courage Prize 2005, the Homo Homini Award by People in Need Foundation, the Student Peace Prize in 2001 and the John Humphrey Freedom Award in 1999.

Peace Now online

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Sat 10 Nov 2012
BABSEA 2nd Annual Access To Justice Public Interest Fair
"justify">Get information and help support local community-based organizations, build a network, and find out about job and volunteer opportunities at this fair showcasing the work of NGOs working in Southeast Asia.
Where: Kantary Hills Hotel, 44 Nimmanhaemin Road, Soi 12, Chiang Mai
Time: 11 a.m.–4:30 p.m.
Entrance: free

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