Prague, October 4, 2013 – Min Ko Naing, the leading Burmese democracy activist from the 88 Generation Student Group, ex-post recieved the Homo Homini Award in Prague.
For his outstanding courage and effort he demonstrated during his political activism and struggle for democracy in Burma, Min Ko Naing was originally awarded in 2000, but due to his long term imprisonment he never had the opportunity to personally receive the award.
„When I received the Award in 2000 it was my eleventh year in the jail and I felt like to be forgotten. Homo Homini was light that showed me it was not true,“ said Min Ko Naing during the Homo Homini ceremony the 3rd October 2013 in Prague.
“It was Václav Havel who proved that the true love to humanity cannot be limited by nationalism, religion or discrimination. Me and Václav Havel, we were not close friends, we lived ten thousands kilometers far from each other. But under the roof of freedom, peace and human rights we were like family,” said Min Ko Naing.
The Award Ceremony included film screening ‘Burmese prisoners’, recitation of the Czech translation of Min Ko Naing’s poem and discussion with public about social and political developments in Burma.
Min Ko Naing asked international community to keep supporting Burma and to get to know the country closer. He stressed Burma needs new constitution. “It is necessary to amend our constitution that is not democratic and gives too much power to the army,” said Min Ko Naing. According to him Burmese people especially need to build civil society – to learn their rights and accept their responsibility.
The Homo Homini Award was originally handed over by former Czech President Václav Havel and received on behalf of the Min Ko Naing by Bo Kyi, co-founder of the Assistance Association of Political Prisoners (AAPP).——Currently Min Ko Naing is visiting the Czech Republic for the first time to participate in the conference Civil Society: Freedom is not to be Taken for Granted, where Min Ko Naing belonged to the key panelists. Other participants came from the countries which have been, together with Burma, in the focus of Vaclav Havel’ s interest: Cuba, Belarus, Azerbaijan, Iran, Russia and China. The conference was organized by Václav Havel Library on the occasion of the first presentation of the Václav Havel Award for Human Rights which honors outstanding civil society action in defence of human rights. The prize was granted to the Belarusian human rights activist Ales Bialiatski who was arrested by Belarusian authorities in 2011 and is held in prison until today.
Apart from award ceremony and the conference, Min Ko Naing met in Prague several important experts in political and economical transformation and had the opportunity to discuss key problems concerning the transforming situation in Burma. He also met representatives of Ministry of Foreign Affairs and spent time with Czech Burmese community.
Adéla Pospíchalová, Centre for Democracy and Human Rights, People in Need
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