Five Years Added to Student Leader's Sentence
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Five Years Added to Student Leader's Sentence

By BA KAUNG Tuesday, May 25, 2010


Kyaw Ko Ko made three dramatic escapes, but his luck finally ran out in 2008, when Burmese authorities arrested him for his role in the 2007 Saffron Revolution and he was sentenced to three years in prison for possesing illegal videos.

On Friday, with his first sentence set to expire in one year, the junta tacked on an additional five years for illegal asociation and subversion.

Kyaw Ko Ko delivers a speech to students in Rangoon during the 2007 Saffron Revolution.

Rahul Kyaw Kyaw Maung, alias Kyaw Ko Ko, 28, is the son of school teachers in Rangoon's Tamwe township. In 2006, he was in Rangoon studying for his masters degree in economics when he was recruited by former political prisoners to engage in political activities.

“Though he received some influence from other individuals, he himself is well-read, calm and disciplined,” recalled a political activist who met Kyaw Ko Ko a few years ago. 

Kyaw Ko Ko met the prominent 88 Generation Students' leader Min Ko Naing in a monastery, where they were celebrating the anniversary of the student-led uprising in 1988. When Min Ko Naing and other 88 Generation Students' leaders were re-arrested for their protests against the unannounced increase in fuel prices, and many former political prisoners consequently fled Burma for fear of persecution, younger activists like Kyaw Ko Ko stepped in to take a leadership role.

Representing the new generation of activists that has emerged since since the nationwide anti-government uprising in 1988, Kyaw Ko Ko attempted to rejuvenate the Burma Students' Union, which had became active again during the 1988 uprising.

Although not an officially outlawed association, the Students' Union had become virtually illegal since the 1962 military coup, despite the fact that it played an important role in the country's independence struggle.

“At the court on Friday, my brother did not deny that he tried to reorganize the student's organization, but he insisted to the judges that the organization is a legal organization,” said Kyaw Ko Ko's sister.

When the Saffron Revolution broke out, Kyaw Ko Ko continued his dissident leadership role, and after the crackdown on protesting monks, he went into hiding in and around Rangoon.

In October 2007, a house in South Okkalapa township that Kyaw Ko Ko was hiding in was raided. He managed to escape by jumping off the balcony, but some of his friends were arrested.

Later, the police discovered him in a Rangoon monastery where he had been given refuge, but again he managed to escape. He eluded the authorities for a third time when they raided a snack bar in Rangoon's Junction 8 Shopping mall where he was meeting with friends, who were all arrested.

Kyaw Ko Ko fled to Pegu, but returned to Rangoon in early 2008 to launch a no-vote campaign against the referendum over the junta's controversial Constitution. Before the referendum was held, however, he was finally arrested.

The authorities found videos of the 1988 uprising in the place where Kyaw Ko Ko was hiding, and although family members said he had nothing to do with the videos, in 2009 Kyaw Ko Ko was sentenced to three years in jail after being convicted of violating Burma's Video Act, which regulates uncensored videos, and sentenced to three years in jail.

Violation of the Video Act is one of the charges the regime used in handing down a heavy prison sentence to Burma's famous comedian Zarganar, who is currently jailed in a remote prison.

On Friday, following a trial that was not covered by the state-controlled media, Kyaw Ko Ko received an additional five-year jail sentence for unlawful association and subversion, which according to his defense lawyer, Aung Thein, he is alleged to have committed during the monks' protests in 2007.

“He gave a speech to the crowds in 2007 in front of the Rangoon city hall while representing the students, and this entails the first charge of unlawful association. The same fact becomes the basis of the second charge for subversion,” Aung Thein said. “I believe this is nothing but an attempt to lengthen his prison term.”
“I am not frustrated.

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tulippar Wrote:
What the junta did again is a shameful thing.

SAM Wrote:
"Walk on with hope in your heart, and you will never walk alone."

Young leaders such as these will continue to inspire us, enduring long after the hypocrisy of the likes of Aye Lwin and Ye Htun.

Aung San Thu Wrote:
The military leaders are very ruthless and this is another example of the lawless treatment of its own citizens. No democratic country in this world would impose such a long imprisonment. No wonder, Burma is notorious for its human rights abuse. Just by showing this example, it will not stop future activists. Instead, it will be counter effective and will make more people turn to politics and grow hatred against their government.

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