Khun Htun Oo

Khun Htun Oo (Burmese: ခွန်ထွန်းဦးpronounced [kʰʊ̀ɰ̃ tʰʊ́ɰ̃ ʔú], Shan: ၸဝ်ႈၶုၼ်ထုၼ်းဢူ, born 11 September 1943) is a chairman of Shan Nationalities League for Democracy (SNLD) and a politician who was imprisoned in 2005 for treason, defamation, and inciting dissatisfaction toward the Burmese government. His sentence was protested by numerous Western governments and the human rights group Amnesty International, which named him a prisoner of conscience.

Khun Htun Oo
Born (1943-09-11) 11 September 1943 (age 77)
NationalityShan
EducationSt.Elbert, Maymyo
Kambawza College, Taunggyi
Alma materRangoon University
Years active1988 - Present
Known forPolitical prisoner
Politician
Parent(s)Sao Kyar Hzon (father)
Sao Shwe Yone(mother)

BackgroundEdit

Khun Htun Oo is ethnically Shan (Tai), and was born in 1943 in Hsipaw Northern Shan State. He is the nephew of Sao Kya Seng, the last Saopha of Hsipaw who was arrested in 1962 after General Ne Win's 1962 Burmese coup d'état and never seen again.[1] He pursued a Bachelor of Laws at Rangoon University in 1964 before serving as assistant to the Indonesian military attaché in Burma.[1] Khun Htun Oo went on to become "the most senior political representative of the Shan".[1]

After pro-democracy, anti-government protests toppled Ne Win's military dictatorship in 2011,[2] Khun Tun Oo stood for the 1990 parliamentary elections at the head of the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy (SNLD) party.[1] His party gained 23 seats (220,835 votes),[3] and within Shan State, finished ahead of even Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD), which had won 59.9% of the vote nationwide.[1] However, the military government annulled the results, the parliament never convened, and the generals continued to rule the country as the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC).[2]

Activism, arrest, and trialEdit

Eight years after the annulment of the election results, SNLD and 3 other ethnic parties worked on a coalition agreement with the NLD. This coalition urged the SPDC to negotiate with the NLD over human rights, but these efforts did not succeed, and Khun Htun Oo's party ultimately urged politicians to boycott the SPDC's coming National Convention.[1] In a 2002 interview with BBC News, he described his party's ultimate objective as "the establishment of a multi-party democratic system".[4] That same year, he publicly protested the exclusion of Burma's ethnic minorities from Union Day celebrations.[5]

Khun Htun Oo's opposition to the government eventually led to his arrest. On 7 February 2005—Shan National Day—Khun Htun Oo met several other politicians for a meal, over which they discussed the SPDC's plans for the coming national transition.[6] He was arrested two days later on charges of "high treason" and "inciting disaffection towards the Government".[6] The other leaders present at the meeting were arrested as well.[1]

In November of that year, the group was tried in a closed trial at Insein Prison. Khun Htun Oo was found guilty on all charges and sentenced to 93 years' imprisonment.[1][6] Amnesty International criticized the trial as falling "far short of international fair trial standards", noting that the defendants were denied access to family and their own lawyers.[6]

Imprisonment and international attentionEdit

Khun Htun Oo and the other Shan State leaders were sent to different prisons in remote area of Burma, hundreds of miles from their hometowns. From 2005 to 2011, Khun Htun Oo was held in Putao prison in Northernmost Kachin State where temperature fall below zero in winter.[1] According to reports released from the prison, despite having diabetes and gout he received little medical attention, and was also suffering from swollen legs due to lack of exercise, as well as ischemic heart disease.[1] Amnesty International reported that he also suffers from a peptic ulcer and arthritis.[6] On 9 February 2010, the Democratic Voice of Burma reported that Khun Htun Oo was "losing hair and weight," dropping from around 160 lbs. to around 120 lbs.,[7] and on 10 February 2011, that his health was "deteriorating".[8]

Amnesty International named Khun Htun Oo as a prisoner of conscience, and as of May 2011, continued to publicize his case.[9] He was also made an honorary Italian citizen by the mayor of Monza on December 10, 2008.[1] A 2010 United Nations draft resolution calling by name for the freedom of Khun Htun Oo and other political prisoners was co-sponsored by Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Great Britain and the US.[10] In March 2011,Khun Htun Oo was awarded the Nationalities Hero prize by the United Nationalities Alliance, a group representing several minorities of Burma, for his "dedication and struggle for ethnic groups and national reconciliation".[11]

ReleaseEdit

Khun Htun Oo was released on 13 January 2012 in a mass presidential pardon of political prisoners.[12]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "AAPP Case No.: 0055" (PDF). Assistance Association for Political Prisoners. 11 February 2010. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2 March 2011. Retrieved 10 May 2011. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  2. ^ a b "Burma's 2007 protests". BBC News. 25 September 2007. Retrieved 8 May 2011. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  3. ^ Europa Publications Staff, The Far East and Australasia, Routledge, 2003, p. 863.
  4. ^ "Aung San Suu Kyi 'strengthened'". BBC News. 8 May 2002. Retrieved 10 May 2011. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  5. ^ Win Thein (11 February 2002). "Burma's Ethnic Groups Banned from Celebrations". The Irrawaddy. Archived from the original on 3 March 2011. Retrieved 10 May 2011. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  6. ^ a b c d e "MYANMAR Democracy Advocate Put Behind Bars for 93 Years" (PDF). Amnesty International. Archived from the original (PDF) on 18 February 2011. Retrieved 8 May 2011. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  7. ^ "Shan leader 'losing hair and weight'". Democratic Voice of Burma. 9 February 2010. Archived from the original on 2 March 2011. Retrieved 10 May 2011. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  8. ^ "Calls mount for Shan leader's release". Democratic Voice of Burma. 10 February 2011. Archived from the original on 1 July 2011. Retrieved 10 May 2011. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  9. ^ "Myanmar, Unlock the Prison Doors!" (PDF). Amnesty International. Archived from the original (PDF) on 29 April 2011. Retrieved 17 April 2011. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  10. ^ Lalit K Jha (4 November 2010). "UN Draft Resolution Silent on Commission of Inquiry". The Irrawaddy. Archived from the original on 2 March 2011. Retrieved 10 May 2011. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  11. ^ Myo Thant (31 March 2011). "Shan leader Khun Htun Oo awarded Nationalities Hero prize". mizzima.com. Archived from the original on 12 June 2011. Retrieved 10 May 2011. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  12. ^ "High-profile dissidents freed in Burma amnesty". BBC News. 13 January 2012. Retrieved 13 January 2012. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)

External linksEdit