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Golden Web Awards 2002-2003


Media Release

14th Year anniversary of the arrest of Student Leader Min Ko Naing and 127th Year anniversary of Thakin Kodaw Hmaing, the Father of Burmese Peace Movements

Foreign Affairs Committee
All Burma Federation of Student Unions
23 March 2003

Today, Min Ko Naing, Chairperson of the All Burma Federation of Student Unions, has been detained for 14 years by the Burmese military government, who call themselves the “State Peace and Development Council”. Min Ko Naing was elected as the Chairperson of ABFSU at the Student Assembly in August 1988. He led the peaceful student movements in Burma and called for the peaceful transition to democracy from the authoritarian regime with the support of student masses. He was arrested on 23 March 1989 by the military authority and sentenced to 15 years imprisonment because of his prominent leadership in the student movements. Even though the Burmese students, international student groups, and international community have successively demanded the release of Min Ko Naing and other student political prisoners, the regime still continues to refuse to release these students including Min Ko Naing. The ABFSU and its member students still recognize him as the Chairperson of ABFSU and the main student leader, despite him remaining in prison.  He was transferred to Sittway Prison, in the western part of Burma, in 1998.

Min Naing, spoke-person of ABFSU Foreign Affairs Committee, said, “Min Ko Naing's strong spirit towards anti-military dictatorship, democracy and internal peace is the ideal for the students and people. Despite being placed in solitary confinement for over 14 years, he has not changed his strong position on the Burmese rulers, and has continued to show the same moral fortitude and leadership as shown by the student leaders who came before him.  We are proud of his strong commitment. We condemn the present regime as they continue to detain him in a prison which is located far away from his family, and even though he has already completed his imprisonment term according to the prison regulation.”

Today also marks the 127th anniversary of the birth of Thakin Kodaw Hmaing, who was the father of the Burmese Peace Movements. He was an active leader in the anti-colonial movements and national independence struggles.  When the ABFSU was formed in 1936, the students appointed him as the patron of ABFSU. After Burma gained independence from the British Empire, and internal conflict and civil war burst out amongst the political forces, he initiated and led the people in peaceful movements demanding dialogue between the government and rebel groups in order to achieve peace and development in Burma. He also actively participated in world peace forums. However, he could not fulfill his strong aspiration for a peaceful Burma and he died in 1964. Burmese people always remember him as the father of national peace movements.

Min Naing continues, “All the Burmese peoples including monks, political leaders and students admire and regard him as a national leader as well as a prominent poet during the anti-colonial movements, anti-fascist actions, national independent struggle and internal peace movements. Amongst our students, he was valued as the national figure. In 1976, when students held the 100th year anniversary of his birthday at the university campus to honor his aspiration and commitments to the country, the ruling military regime violently crashed down on this student movement. It is clear that the military group dislike the people and students' admiration towards Thakin Kodaw Hmaing. They have also tried to fade away his dignity and popularity amongst the general public. However, the students and people still admire and respect him and these acts of the military regime have failed.”

The aspiration of Thakin Kodaw Hmaing and his leadership to stop the internal conflicts and to achieve the internal peace will always be remembered by each student generation. Min Ko Naing's strong aspirations towards democracy, peace and a developed country continues to be symbolically represented by the present student generation.

On this remarkable date, the Foreign Affairs Committee of ABFSU urges the ruling military regime to immediately release all political prisoners including Min Ko Naing and other students, to legitimize the civil society groups including student unions and trade unions, and to begin genuine political talks towards internal peace and national causes.

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