Burma: Fears for dissident Mi Mi and activist women generally
This is an English translation of an interview broadcast on RFA’s Burmese service on Oct. 15:
Announcer: After the majority of the 88-generation student leaders were arrested, students from the 88 generation, Ma Mi Mi, aka Thin Thin Aye, and Ma Nilar Thein led people’s demonstrations. After these demonstrations, they had been secretly active inside Burma along with other student leaders since the military authorities were after them to arrest them. But, last Saturday, on October 13, Ma Mi Mi was arrested, along with the other 88 student leaders, including Ko Htay Kyweh. Ma Mi Mi had been imprisoned in Insein and Thayawaddy prisons for seven years starting in 1996. Ma Nilar Thein, who was in Thayawaddy prison with her, is very concerned for Ma Mi Mi about this arrest.
Ma Nilar Thein (MNT): I am very sad because my friend Mi Mi was arrested like this. I am especially concerned for her because I read the military authorities vengeful writings in the newspapers about Mi Mi. She was arrested under these circumstances, so I’m especially concerned for her health and safety.
Announcer: In September, monks and people demonstrated. Using force, many people were arrested and tortured. Since Ma Nilar Thein hears this everyday, she is concerned for her comrade and friend, Ma Mi Mi.
MNT: Those who were arrested earlier, even those against whom they had no great vengeance, even just ordinary people, were beaten black and blue. Two girls from South Okkalapa were released, and their faces had been beaten black and blue. We can say that those are people against whom they hold no malice. Since Mi Mi is one of the people they had been targeting, when I heard about her arrest, I only had 50 percent hope for her. The other 50 percent is to consider her dead. It’s because we are living and telling the truth. Now we hear that they are giving injections and electrical shots to the student leaders and interrogating them. Now, when people they are urgently trying to find, including Ko Htay Kyweh, the student leader, and Ma Mi Mi, are arrested like this, I am extremely concerned for their safety. I’m really sad thinking what kind of torture they must be undergoing.
Announcer: Ma Nilar Thein recounted, as follows, her personal story of how women political prisoners are faced with oppression and are defenseless under the military dictators.
MNT: At the Thayawaddy Prison, under the prison chief, U Win Myint, prisoners sentenced for rape were kept next to the women’s building. The prison staff and these prisoners would come and peep at us while we took our baths. We were in prison, defenseless, and without any security. When we reported this to the prison chief, we were reprimanded. Only when the ICRC came, we felt secure because of the rules laid down by the UN, allowed and given by the ICRC. Now, we are concerned for the safety of the women in various prisons because international organizations, such as the ICRC cannot go there. Therefore, we are extremely concerned. No one can defend us from these military dictators who are doing whatever they want.
Announcer: Ma Nilar Thein has made the following request to the international community for women political prisoners in the prisons in Burma, including Ma Mi Mi, who are facing human rights abuses.
MNT: We, the Burmese women, interested in politics and taking part in politics, are facing violence and torture and being killed. From here, I would like to request women’s organizations all over the world to form a investigative commission and to take action for the things going on in our country.
Announcer: That was a request by Ma Nilar Thein to the international community regarding the arrest of Ma Mi Mi, an 88-generation student.
Student leader Mi Mi (a) Thin Thin Aye (female) was arrested on Oct. 13. She is 35 years old, holds a bachelor’s degree in Zoology, and has two children aged 12 and 16 years.
Her husband is also a youth member of the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD). She has been involved in the pro-democracy movement since 1988. She was imprisoned from 1996 to 2003 (7 years). She is one of the prominent leaders of the 88 generation.
State Dept. Press statement:
Tom Casey, Deputy Spokesman
October 15, 2007
Arrest of Htay Kywe and Other Pro-Democracy Activists
The United States condemns the Burmese regime’s arrest on October 13, 2007, of pro-democracy activists, including prominent 88 Generation Students leader Htay Kywe and activists Aung Thu, Thin Thin Aye, and Zaw Htat Ko Ko. By unjustly imprisoning organizers of peaceful demonstrations, Burma’s ruling generals continue to blatantly disregard the international community’s deep concern and calls for a halt to its crackdown, most recently expressed in the October 11 United Nations Security Council Presidential Statement, and violate internationally accepted human rights principles. The continuing repression and persistent refusal to fully cooperate with the international community make clear the need for the international community to maintain strong pressure on the Burmese regime. We reiterate our call for the release of all political prisoners, including Aung San Suu Kyi, Min Ko Naing, and Ko Ko Gyi, and for a genuine dialogue between the regime and the leaders of Burma’s pro-democracy and ethnic minority organizations.
Note on Nilar Thein:
Nilar Thein is No. 5 on a long list of people designated “terrorists” by Burma’s military rulers. She is 35 years old, from a wealthy family, but after she was jailed for 9 years and refused to give up her political activities after her release from jail, her parents disowned her officially. She has said she forgives her parents for they may have no choice. Nilar’s husband Jimmy has served a 16-year jail term.
They have already arrested her husband, student leader Jimmy (aka) Kyaw Min Yu; but Nilar is still at large. Nilar’s five month baby (Sunshine) has been left with her grandmother (mother of Jimmy) Nilar took the child with her at first. But Sunshine’s cries were in danger of giving them both away.
In a previous interview with RFA’s Burmese service, she talked about her baby, saying that her daughter will understand her, and that she may not be a good mother to her but there are many children who have nothing, no school etc in Burma and she has to do this.