Prominent Burmese activist Min Ko Naing (aka Paw Oo Tun) celebrated his 48th birthday in prison suffering from osteoporosis and other illnesses, according to family members.
Family members in Rangoon on Monday offered alms to five monks to mark his birthday, which was commemorated inside and outside Burma.
On Oct. 11, his sister, Kyi Kyi Nyunt, visited Min Ko Naing in Kengtung Prison, a remote prison in Shan State.
Speaking to The Irrawaddy on Monday, she said: “The weather in that region is cold and his arms, hands and legs are aching. His osteoporosis is worse so we have to send medicine regularly. He has to take medicine that can kill the pain.”
“If he can wear high-heeled shoes, he can relieve some of that pain,” she said. The former chairman of the All Burma Federation of Student Unions (ABFSU) and a leading member of the 88 Generation Students group, Min Ko Naing was arrested in 1989 for participating in the student-led uprising. He was sentenced to 16 years in prison.
After being released from prison in 2004, he lead a “white campaign” that distributed T-shirts to people in Rangoon who wore the T-shirt as a symbol of peaceful opposition to the regime.
He was rearrested on Aug. 21, 2007, on charges of organizing a demonstration that led to the “Saffron Revolution.” He was given a 65-year sentence.
Min Ko Naing was born on Oct. 18, 1962, the third son of the respected artist Thet Nyunt and Hla Kyi. From a young age, he was interested in politics. He studied zoology at Rangoon Arts and Science University before reforming and leading the ABFSU.
Min Ko Naing received the John Humphrey Freedom Award in 1999, the Student Peace Prize in 2001, the Civil Courage Prize in 2005, the Homo Homini Award by the People in Need Foundation and the South Korean Gwangju Human Rights Award for 2009.