Date: October 18, 2010
Support Min Ko Naing and his fellow democracy activists
Min Ko Naing’s 48th birthday
Assistance Association for Political Prisoners
18 October, 2010
Today Min Ko Naing will spend his 48th Birthday imprisoned and cut off from the people of Burma. This will be the 19th year that he has spent a day, meant for celebration, in incarceration.
Min Ko Naing has become one of the most prominent and outspoken opponents of the military regime, expressing his political dissent through poetry and most recently ‘Rear View Mirror’ a novel written after his first release and published by the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners in 2009.
Min Ko Naing has put Burma’s fight for democracy before any other interests and in doing so risked his freedom and safety. He has been stripped of his basic human rights yet fought back again and again each time with more determination. To the people of Burma Min Ko Naing is an inspiration and a symbol of strength and courage.
‘True courage can be seen in those who, armed with nothing more than their superior moral position, stand up to a brutal armed regime; and persistently defy their order; refuse to cower under their threats; to simply demand the rights that should be available to all humans…that is true courage’. Jim McNalis.
In August 1988, Min Ko Naing was elected Chairperson of the All Burma Federation of Student Unions. After the military brutally crushed the popular uprisings in August 1988, thousands of students and other activists escaped to safety. However, Min Ko Naing refused to flee, choosing instead to remain inside Burma to continue his pro-democracy work.
Min Ko Naing was eventually arrested in March 1989 and arbitrarily sentenced to 15 years’ imprisonment. He was released in November 2004 after spending 16 years in solitary confinement. In an interview following his release, he
said, “It gave me confidence in prison to know that although my journey is rough and dark, I am not alone, and I am with my comrades. As a result, I have finished the long journey”.
In August 2007, Min Ko Naing led peaceful demonstrations against the regime’s economic mismanagement, hikes in fuel and commodity prices, and the falling standard of living. This later became know as the Saffron Revolution. Min Ko Naing and his fellow leading activists were arrested for their roles in organizing the demonstrations and handed down sentences of 65 years.
Min Ko Naing has been presented with several awards by the international community for his work towards a democratic Burma and for highlighting the regimes’ absolute denial of freedom of expression; a basic human right and fundamental element within a democratic society.
Let us wish this courageous leader a happy birthday and assure him and his fellow activists that they are not alone in their fight for democracy in Burma.
Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (Burma)
For more information –
Bo Kyi (Joint Secretary); +66 (0) 819 628 713
Tate Naing (Secretary): +66 (0) 812 878 751