Min Ko Naing Receiving the Homo Homini Award in Person after 13 Years

Min Ko Naing Receiving the Homo Homini Award in Person after 13 Years

Nov 6, 2013

Burmese student activist and dissident Min Ko Naing was personally handed out the Homo Homini Award presented by People in Need for defending human rights and devoting effort to fight for democracy. In 2000 the award was given to Bo Kyi, a co-founder of Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), on the behalf of Ko Naing as he had been serving his 11th year in prison. Finally after 13 years, on the 3rd October the laureate was bestowed the award in person during the ceremony hosted, quite symbolically, by the Vaclav Havel Library.

“Once upon a time there was a young man. And this man was in a prison cell. He had been there already for an entire decade and he was about to think that he had been forgotten. One day he got to know that some country in Europe presented him with an award. It was the Homo Homini Award. That was like a flash of light in the darkness. He did not know what kind of award that was. Then, in prison he thought that everyone had forgotten him, but thanks to this award he found out they hadn’t,” stated Min Ko Naing during the special evening, where he also read his poems and encouraged the debate on the present situation and development in Burma.

While in Prague, Min Ko Naing encountered some prominent figures engaged in the Czech political transformation, participated in a conference entitled ‘Civic Society: Freedom Is Not To Be Taken for Granted’ which was organized by the Vaclav Havel Library. Moreover, he also made a visit to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and met the numerous Burmese community in the Czech Republic.

In 1988 Min Ko Naing was the Leader of the All Burma Federation of Student Unions and a key figure of the 8888 Uprising, and a year later he was imprisoned. It was only after fifteen years when he was released in 2004. What is more, the torture he suffered caused permanent health damage. In 2007 Min Ko Naing got involved in organizing the protests later to be known as the Saffron Revolution. As a result, he was sent to prison again while having been sentenced to 65 years. It was last year when he was released. In total, he spent 20 years of his life in prison. Min Ko Naing still remains one of the most influential political figures in Burma. Nowadays he was involved in founding new museum documenting Burmese pro-democracy struggle, which was opened on October 16th in Rangoon.

 

The video from the Homo Homini Award ceremony can be watched here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lCa4z8h-GPg&feature=youtu.be

An article about prison experience and the needs of contemporary Burma: http://www.ceskenoviny.cz/domov/zpravy/vezneni-jsem-prezil-i-diky-smyslu-pro-humor-rika-barmanec/991332

Museum on pro-democracy struggle in Rangoon: http://www.irrawaddy.org/burma/new-museum-highlight-burmas-pro-democracy-struggle.html

 

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Author: Marie Havlínová, Coordinator, Burmese Projects