Min Ko Naing

Min Ko Naing
Min Ko Naing
Min Ko Naing vows to reform Democratization in Burma

Paw Oo Tun (Burmese: ပေါ်ဦးထွန်း, pronounced [pɔ̀ ʔú tʰʊ́ɴ]; better known by his alias Min Ko Naing, (မင်းကိုနိုင်, [mɪ́ɴ kò nàiɴ], lit. "conqueror of kings"); b. 18 October 1962) is the President of Universities Student Union of Burma (Myanmar) and a leading democracy activist and dissident. He has spent the majority of the last 22 years imprisoned by the state for his opposition activities.



Min Ko Naing was born in Yangon, the third son of U Thet Nyunt and Daw Hla Kyi, a Mon-Chinese couple from Mudon in Mon State. He has three sisters; Daw Kyi Kyi Nyunt, Daw Ye Ye Nyunt, Daw Thadar Nyunt. Min Ko Naing attended No. 4 Basic Education Middle School, Thingyangyun Township, Yangon. On August 28, 1988, he was the chairman of the All Burma Federation of Student Unions (ABFSU). He lived at 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.[citation needed]

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.[citation needed]

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. The military regime, responded to the uprising by force, gunning down up to 10,000 persons.[citation needed]

15 years political imprisonment until 2004

Forced to go underground, Min Ko Naing continued his organizing work while moving from house to house every night to avoid arrest. After several months, he was captured along with other students. He was sentenced to 20 years' imprisonment, under Section 5(j) of the 1950 Emergency Provisions Act for instigating "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 is considered a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International, which intensively campaigned for his release.[citation needed]

According to Amnesty International, Min Ko Naing was severely tortured and ill-treated during the early stages of his detention. 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.[citation needed]

Second imprisonment

Min Ko Naing was rearrested in late September 2006. Htay Kywe, Ko Ko Gyi, Pone Cho and Min Zeya were arrested along with him, in advance of Burma's 2006 national convention.[1] In January 2007, they were released, without official explanation for either their original arrest or their sudden release.[1]


From 10 October 2006 to 18 October 2006 (his 44th birthday), some of the "88 generation" students organized a nationwide campaign, “White Expression” to pressure the military government to release him and all of political prisoners. Participants wore white clothing in a show of support for the release of all political prisoners. They 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 artists from Myanmar (such as Ludu Daw Amar and Zarganar) signed the petition.[citation needed]

On 4 January 2007, the 88 Generation Students Group organized a campaign called “Open Heart Campaign”. 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.[citation needed]

The 88 Generation Students Group also 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 every Sunday during this period.[citation needed]

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. On 11 November 2008 Min Ko Naing was sentenced to 65 years imprisonment, as 22 others had been for their role in the August 2007 demonstrations. On 15 November 2008 Min Ko Naing was transferred to Kengtung prison in Shan State, where isolated, bleak cells were constructed in mid-2000 for solitary confinement.[citation needed]

International Recognition

Min Ko Naing has won numerous international awards for his activism. These include the 2009 Gwangju Prize for Human Rights;[2] the 2005 Civil Courage Prize, which he shared with Anna Politkovskaya and Munir Said Thalib;[3] the 2000 Homo Homini Award of People In Need;[4] the 2001 Student Peace Prize; and the 1999 John Humphrey Freedom Award, which he shared with Cynthia Maung of the Mae Tao Clinic.[5]

See also


External links

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