covering burma and southeast asia
Monday, September 22, 2014
Burma

Min Ko Naing Calls for Peace in Ethnic Areas


By WAI MOE Friday, January 13, 2012


Min Ko Naing (left) shakes hands with a supporter as he leaves Tayet Prison on Friday morning. (PHOTO: Eleven Media Group)
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Min Ko Naing, Burma’s most prominent pro-democracy figure after Aung San Suu Kyi, has called for peace in ethnic minority areas and the release of all political prisoners.

Speaking to The Irrawaddy shortly after his release from a 65 year prison term on Friday, he said, “I am very concerned about achieving peace in ethnic areas because when I hear the news about the armed conflicts, particularly in Kachin State, it makes me very uncomfortable.”

The leader of the 88 Generation Students group, who was released from prison along with 650 other political dissidents on Friday, continued: “That's why we need peace across the country immediately. Then we can work toward building national reconciliation.”

Min Ko Naing said that achieving peace in Burma—including the ethnic areas—is one of the most important aims of the 88 Generation Students group.

“There must be no political dissidents in Burma’s prisons!” he said by telephone from Aung Lan Township in Magway Division where he was en route by car to his hometown Rangoon.

He said that although he and other many dissidents were released on Friday, there are still many political prisoners behind bars.

“In Tayet Prison alone—where I was incarcerated—there are still political prisoners, some who are related to ethnic armed groups and others who were arrested mistakenly,” he said. “We don’t know yet how many political prisoners are still in prisons across the country. There could be different opinions in the definition of political prisoners, but they were all arrested on political grounds.”

Asked about his role in a future Burma, Min Ko Naing said that he and his colleagues will work together with Suu Kyi and her party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), toward achieving democratic reform and national reconciliation.

“These past few years, we have had a policy to support the NLD,” he said. “We have not changed our stance. I will discuss all matters with my colleagues soon—but we will definitely work with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and the NLD.”

According to Min Ko Naing, members of the 88 Generation Students group who were released on Friday and earlier will hold meetings in the coming days.

“It is certain that we, the 88 group, will stand alongside the people of Burma just as we did before,” he said. “We will reflect the people’s voices and desires, and work on their behalf.

Regarding President Thein Sein and his administration, Min Ko Naing said he does not want to make critical comments and will wait and see. However, he said, there existed some questionable elements under the current administration.

“I don’t want to make any critical comments or analysis based on just one person. I believe the government does at least have a collective leadership,” he said. “We have to wait and see whether the president’s decision is followed, because what we see now is that his troops don't always obey his orders.”

Since his release from prison on Friday morning , Min Ko Naing has been greeted by jubilant crowds in Tayet and Aung Lan. He said he feels that 'people power' is back and that he is positive about the time ahead.

Min Ko Naing, literally meaning “Conqueror of Kings,” has been well-known in Burma since the pro-democracy uprising in 1988 when he was the leader of the All Burma Federation of Student Unions. He was arrested in March 1989 a few months after the September 1988 military coup. He was imprisoned for 20 years and stayed behind bars until November 2004.

He was arrested again with several 88 Generation colleagues in September 2006 and detained until January 2007. He and his colleagues were arrested again on August 21, 2007, following their peaceful protest against the government’s fuel price hike that sparked the monk-led mass demonstrations in September 2007.

COMMENTS (3)
 
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B T Aung Wrote:
23/01/2012
No doubt that Min Ko Naing is a hero and a National Hero as well as his colleague Ko Ko Gyi,Htay Kywe etc. Wait & observe What the new Govt.is doing. In Ne Win's Era the Circle of History was happened . Are they doing the same way.Think!!

U Nu Wrote:
22/01/2012
The five main pillars of Health, Education, Morals, Economics and National Solidarity which must support our nation.

Mg Min Nway Wrote:
18/01/2012
Min Ko Naing is the true hero of Burma.
He is not an opportunist. He will never kneel the Dictators.

Burmese way to Democracy is in progress but I
doubt it is only a signboard Democracy just
prolonging the new Dictatorship.

We need the hero who serves the people. We don't want the one who serve the Dictators or used by Dictators.

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