Press Releases
About Min Ko Naing


March 21, 2004

Min Ko Naing, a chairperson of All Burma Federation of Students' Union, will have been in prison for exactly 15 years on March 23, 2004.Min Ko Naing was arrested on March 23, 1989. Immediately after his arrest, he was taken to interrogation and brutally tortured on numerous occasions. According to one report, during interrogation, he was forced to stand in water for two weeks until finally collapsing. The authorities' press conference on March 24, 1989 said that Min Ko Naing (a) Paw Oo Tun had been carrying out illegal organizational work and giving speeches. Furthermore, he was found to have repeatedly violated Order No 2/88 (forbidding gatherings of more than four people). He was sent to Inein Prison and was placed into the solitary confinement. He was charged under the state protection act (article 10/a) until 1991.

In the beginning of 1991, the regime changed the law from article 10/a into 124 Burma Penal Code and 17/1 Printing Act. He was then sentenced to 15 years imprisonment by Martial court. He was
not provided with legal defense.In 1993, the military regime announced limited amnesty in welcoming the National Convention, which the regime is currently trying to reconvene. As of its announcement, his sentence was commuted to 10 years imprisonment.According to the official response of the regime sent by Working Group on Arbitrary Detention of United Nations on October 22, 2001, Min Ko Naing was convicted under S 124 Burma Penal Code and 17/1 Printing Act. His prison term expired in July, 1999. They issued Section 9 of the State Protection Law, which gives
eight guiding rules for restricting citizen's rights. The junta placed Min Ko Naing under detention thereafter under state protection law (article 10/a). One out of the eight guidelines reads:
"Any person detained under this Law shall, after being released, not again be arrested and imprisoned on the same charges". See below in the section 10/a.Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) made a decision on Min Ko Naing's case as arbitrary in 2001 after questioning both the regime and AAPP.

During his prison period in Insein prison, US congressman Bill Richardson was allowed to visit him in February, 1994, at which time Min Ko Naing asked him to tell his colleagues not to give up.
After repeated requests were made, UN special human rights investigator Yozo Yokota also met Min Ko Naing in 1995 but was only able to talk to him briefly through the cell bars. According to
Yokota's reports, the inmate was nervous and thin but otherwise in good health. He was moved to Sittwe prison in May 1998. Sittwe prison is located in Araken state in western Burma. The distance
between Sittwe and Rangoon is 590 miles. The weather of Sittwe is wet. Transportation is very tough. Min Ko Naing's family lives in Rangoon, a capital of Burma. His parents are very old. For the time being, Min Ko Naing's mother is suffering from heart disease. Therefore his family cannot visit him regularly. He can meet with his family for at most 2 hours a year. Even though he was allowed to read religious and other censored books since 2001, he needs family support due to the harsh prison conditions.

During his 15 years imprisonment, Military Intelligence Personnel have visited him many times and tried to force him to sign a paper saying he would no longer be involved in politics after his release.
He never signs. Min Ko Naing still stands by his beliefs, stated in his rare interview with Asia week magazine in 1988: "I'll never die. Physically I might be dead, but many more Min Ko Naings will appear to take my place. As you know, Min Ko Naing can only conquer a bad king. If the ruler is good, we will carry him on our shoulders."(Like Min Ko Naing, there are at least 27 political prisoners who have already finished their prison term around the prisons of the country. See for a full list of these "10/a prisoners."Min Ko Naing was awarded 4 international prizes: The John Humphrey Freedom Award from Canada, the Student Peace Prize from Norway, Homo Homini from Czech Republic in 2001, and the Honorary Citizenship in Ivera of Italy.)

State Protection Act
Burma's State Protection Law (Phithu Hluttaw Law No. 3 of 1975) consists of a Preamble and six Chapters and 24 sections. The Burmese-language version of the Law does not give the exact date
it was passed; it only says '1975'. In the Preamble, "The People's Assembly enacts the following Law in order to prevent the infringement of the sovereignty and security of the Union of Burma
against any threat to the peace of the people, and against the threat of those desiring to cause subversive acts causing the subversive acts, causing the destruction of the country, without
impending citizens' fundamental rights". Section 1 of the State Protection Law gives the name of the Law and Section 2 defines the terms. Section 7 of the State Protection Law says, " The
[military] Cabinet is authorized to pass an order, as may be necessary, restricting any fundamental rights of any person suspected of having committed or believed to be about to commit,
any act which endangers the sovereignty and security of the state or public peace and tranquility". Section 8 of the State Protection Law says, "For implementation of the authorization mentioned
under Section 7, the [military] Cabinet may form a Central Board on its behalf, chaired by the Minister of Home and Religious Affairs. The Minister of Defense and the Minister of Foreign Affairs shall be members of the Central Board". Section 9 of the State Protection Law gives eight guiding rules for restricting citizen's rights: "In restricting fundamental rights of citizens, the following principles shall be strictly adhered to:
(a) The restriction order shall be laid down by the Central Board only;
(b) Only necessary restriction of fundamental rights shall be decided;
(c) The duration of such restriction shall be kept to minimum;
(d) In addition to regular review of the restriction order, earlier review of the order may be done as necessary;
(e) If sufficient facts for filing a lawsuit have been gathered, the person against whom action is taken shall be handed over to the judicial authorities immediately;
(f) The person against whom action is taken shall enjoy the fundamental rights provided in the Constitution, in so far as these rights have not been restricted;
(g) When any threat as described in Section 7 has ceased to exist, the restriction order shall be annulled immediately;
(h) Any person detained under this Law shall, after being released, not again be arrested and imprisoned on the same charges.
"Section 10 of the State Protection Law says the "Central Board, in the protection of the against danger, has the right to implement the following measures through restrictive order: (A) A person against whom action is taken can be detained for a period of up to ninety
days. This can be extended to a period not exceeding 180 days. Section 14 of the State Protection Law empowers the [military] Cabinet to "grant prior approval to continue the detention or
restriction of rights of a person against whom action is taken for a period from 180 days up to 5 years". (State Law and Order Restoration Council Law No. 11/ 91 extend the period of 5 years
from 3 years to 5 years.)