Several imprisoned leaders of the 88 Generation Students group, including Min Ko Naing, Ko Ko Gyi and Htay Kywe, have been invited to an anniversary event on Friday to be hosted by the Eleven Media Group, an influential publication in Burma, raising hopes across the country that more dissidents will be released in the near future.
Fellow member Thein Than Tun, who was released on Oct.12 in a general amnesty, told The Irrawaddy on Friday that the Eleven Media Group, publisher of Weekly Eleven News Journal and First Eleven Sport Journal, not only invited various student leaders of the 1988 uprising but also reserved seats for them.
“It is unusual that the 88 Generation leaders were invited by Eleven Media and that there will be seats set aside for them,” he said. “If they were released, they could attend. But otherwise, their family members will be allocated their seats.
“Many people expect that the 88 Generation leaders and other political prisoners could be released on Nov.11 or Nov.14,” he added.
Min Ko Naing and the 88 Generation Students group are arguably the most prominent political dissidents in Burma after Aung San Suu Kyi.
Many members of the group have spent most of the past two decades in prison. Min Ko Naing and Ko Ko Gyi were among those last arrested in August 2007 following their part in public protests against fuel price hikes that led to the nationwide Saffron Revolution.
Thirty-seven members of the group were subsequently imprisoned for up to 65 and a half years.
Currently, 28 members of the 88 Generation Students group are still detained. Several members who were sentenced to nine or 11 years were previously released in amnesties in May and October.
Despite Min Ko Naing and the other leaders’ incarceration, there exists the distinct possibility that they could join a political party following amendments to the Political Parties Registration law. One article removed by parliament was: “Anyone convicted by a court of law is prohibited from joining a political party.”
“In my opinion, I think the 88 Generation Students group will register and become a legal entity,” Thein Than Tun said. “But I cannot decide alone. We all have to decide— including those who are in prison.
“But if we are to register as a political party, all political prisoners must be released first,” he stated.