Wednesday, October 19, 2011

‘The doctrine a person embraces is important’ – Min Ko Naing

Wednesday, 19 October 2011 12:55 Zwe Khant

New Delhi (Mizzima) – “The location of a person is not important, only the doctrine the person embraces is important.” That’s the 49th birthday message of 88-generation student leader Min Ko Naing, who is serving a 65-year prison term in Kengtung Prison.

His 49th birthday ceremony, on Tuesday, was held at Thaminemyoma Monastery in Insein Township in Rangoon. He sent the birthday message from his prison cell, adding: “My birthday party should not be only for me; it should be a ceremony of remembrance for all.”

Mi Mi Lwin, Min Ko Naing’s sister, told Mizzima: “He wrote the message as a remembrance,” Min Ko Naing was arrested on August 21, 2007, for leading massive protests against a hike in fuel prices. He was not included in the prisoners released under the recent presidential amnesty.

The birthday ceremony was attended by NLD leaders including Aung San Suu Kyi, NLD Vice Chairman Tin Oo and central committee member Win Tin. The newly released prisoners Zarganar and rights activist Su Su Nway also attended. Also present were diplomats from France, Britain and the U.S. embassies, ethnic leaders, political parties and young people. About 2,000 people turned out for the event.

Well-wishers at the birthday party for Min Ko Naing, who is serving a 65-year sentence in Kengtung Prison. Photo: Mizzima

Mi Mi Lwin said, “I can’t say how sad we feel because his birthday party was held without him. I hope we can hold his birthday party with him next year. We hope it every year.”

During the 1988 pro-democracy uprising, Min Ko Naing was elected chairman of All All Burma Federation of Student Unions (ABFSU). He was arrested in March 1989 for his political activities and released in 2004. Then in September 2006 he was detained again and released in January 2007. He was arrested again during the protest against the hike in fuel price.

To mark the birthday, guests released helium balloons and doves and prayed for the freedom of political prisoners. Pro-democracy leader Suu Kyi, comedian Zarganar and 88-generation student leader Phyo Phyo Aung spoke.

Suu Kyi said that she wished all political prisoners would be released and urged all people to work for their freedom, according to 88-generation student Myat Thu, who organized of the ceremony.

Families of political prisoners gave 5,000 kyat (about US$ 6) to each of more than 100 recently released political prisoners who attended the ceremony, which included a birthday song and poetry recitation.

Myat Thu said, “42 publishing houses donated books and the books will be sent to 42 prisons to open libraries. The total value of the books was more than 2.7 million kyat.

More than 20 portraits of Min Ko Naing were displayed at the ceremony.

“After the ceremony, only three portraits remained. Some people asked for the portraits by saying they loved Min Ko Naing. They asked for the portraits from other people, not from me. I’m sorry to lose the portraits,” said artist Myo Yan Naung Thein, who painted the portraits.

The new ABFSU that was reorganized in 2007 also sent a message, saying “We students pay deep respect to Min Ko Naing; the role of the ABFSU is still active.”

NLD-affiliated networks in Kachin and Karen states, Sagaing and Mandalay regions and Chauk and Yaynanchaung in Magway Region also held ceremonies to mark his birthday.

“According to the information we have, political prisoners will be released in three batches. In the first batch, Min Ko Naing was not included, but Zarganar was included. We heard that Min Ko Naing will be included in the last batch,” 88-generation student Myo Yan Naung Thein said.

Burmese pro-democracy activists in New Delhi held a ceremony to mark the birthday in the office of the Women Rights and Welfare Association of Burma. Food was donated to Buddhist monks and prayers for political prisoners were recited in various religions.

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