Zaw Htet Ko Ko

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Zaw Htet Ko Ko
Born (1981-01-06) January 6, 1981 (age 36)[1]
Burma
Nationality Burmese
Education 3rd year law student, Dagon University[1]
Occupation Photo shop owner, Activist
Criminal penalty 11 years
Criminal status Pardoned
Spouse(s) Dr. San Latt Phyu[1]
Parent(s) U Aung Myint
Website Facebook

Zaw Htet Ko Ko (Burmese: ဇော်ထက်ကိုကို, pronounced: [zɔ̀ tʰɛʔ kò kò]) is a Burmese political activist. In 2008, he was sentenced an 11-year prison sentence for his work with the pro-democracy 88 Generation Students Group, and his detention was criticized by human rights groups including Amnesty International, which named him a prisoner of conscience. He was released in October 2011 in a series of amnesties for political prisoners.

88 Generation Students Group involvement[edit]

Zaw Htet Ko Ko became involved in the 88 Generation Students Group shortly after its 2005 founding through his friend Htay Kywe, one of the group's leaders.[1] One analyst described the group as "not a political party, but rather a movement comprising a generation of students who were active during the 1988 pro-democracy uprising."[2] The group called for an end to the rule of Burma's military leadership, the State Peace and Development Council; the release of all alleged political prisoners; and a return to democracy.[2] Their activities to this end included petition drives, prayer vigils, marches, fliers, and letter-writing campaigns.[2]

Described by Amnesty International as an "Internet enthusiast", Zaw Thet Ko Ko helped the group communicate news of its protests to the outside world.[3] He also served as the group's photographer at events such as its "White Sunday" campaign, in which activists wore white prisoner's clothing each Sunday to show solidarity with imprisoned activists.[1] Fellow activist U Aung Myint recalled asking Zaw Htet Ko Ko if he feared imprisonment, to which Zaw Htet Ko Ko reportedly replied: "Yes, I've considered everything, about dangers. If I don't do what I'm doing, who will do it for the Burmese people?"[3]

Involvement in "Saffron Revolution"[edit]

When rising fuel and commodity prices led to widespread unrest in Yangon in August 2007, the 88 Generation Students Group played a major role in organizing protests.[4] The largest of these rallies drew over one hundred thousand protesters, most notably a number of Buddhist monks, giving the uprising the popular nickname "The Saffron Revolution" for the color of their robes.[5] Zaw Thet Ko Ko participated in several of these rallies, most notably a march on 23 August led by group members Mie Mie and Nilar Thein.[1] Following the arrest of several group leaders, however, including Min Ko Naing, he joined Htay Kywe and Mie Mie in hiding.[1] On 13 October, the three were arrested at a rubber plantation along with fellow group members Aung Thu and Hein Htet.[6]

Trial and imprisonment[edit]

In the weeks following Zaw Htet Ko Ko's arrest, his father alleged that he believed Zaw Htet Ko Ko was being tortured in prison.[3] While Zaw Thet Ko Ko escaped the 65-year sentences given to fellow members such as Min Ko Naing, Htay Kywe, Mie Mie, Nilar Thein, and others,[7] on 21 November 2008, he was sentenced to five years of hard labor by a special court at Insein Prison. Seven days later, he was charged with an additional six years of imprisonment, for a total of eleven years.[1] The sentence was protested by Front Line[8] and Amnesty International, the latter of which named him a prisoner of conscience.[3][9] Human Rights Watch stated its belief that the imprisoned 88 Generation Student Group members were political prisoners and called for their immediate and unconditional release.[10]

On 6 February 2009, he was transferred from Insein to Kyaukpyu Prison in Rakhine State.[11] According to an Irrawaddy story on Zaw Htet Ko Ko's case, "transferring political prisoners to distant prisons is one of the tactics to further punish prisoners and increase the burden on their families and friends."[11]

On 11 or 12 October 2011, Zaw Htet Ko Ko was pardoned as part of a series of amnesties for political prisoners.[12]

Family[edit]

Zaw Htet Ko Ko is married to San Latt Phyu, a medical doctor at Barlan Muslim Virtuous Hospital. They have one son.[1]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i "AAPP CASE NO.: 0067" (PDF). Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (Burma). 13 October 2007. Archived from the original (PDF) on June 2, 2011. Retrieved 21 April 2011. 
  2. ^ a b c Bertil Lintner (25 January 2007). "Myanmar's 88 Generation comes of age". Asia Times. Retrieved 8 May 2011. 
  3. ^ a b c d "MYANMAR: EIGHTEEN YEARS OF PERSECUTION". Amnesty International. 24 October 2007. Retrieved 21 April 2011. 
  4. ^ "Key activists arrested in Burma". BBC News. 13 October 2007. Retrieved 21 April 2011. 
  5. ^ Jenny Booth and agencies (24 September 2007). "Military junta threatens monks in Burma". The Times. Retrieved 21 April 2011. 
  6. ^ "Mie Mie" (PDF). Assistance Association for Political Prisoners. Archived from the original (PDF) on June 2, 2011. Retrieved 8 May 2011. 
  7. ^ Jonathan Head (11 November 2008). "Harsh sentences for Burma rebels". BBC News. Retrieved 17 April 2011. 
  8. ^ "Htay Kywe, Mie Mie, Ko Aung Thu, Zaw Htet Ko Ko, and Hein Htet : Arrested and detained". Front Line. 19 October 2007. Archived from the original on July 22, 2011. Retrieved 10 May 2011. 
  9. ^ "Myanmar, Unlock the Prison Doors!" (PDF). Amnesty International. Archived from the original (PDF) on May 1, 2011. Retrieved 10 May 2011. 
  10. ^ "Burma: Free Activists Sentenced by Unfair Courts". Human Rights Watch. 11 November 2008. Retrieved 10 May 2011. 
  11. ^ a b Wai Moe (6 February 2009). "Thirteen 88 Student Activists Transferred to New Prisons". The Irrawaddy. Archived from the original on March 2, 2011. Retrieved 10 May 2011. 
  12. ^ "Political prisoner release should prompt continued pressure on Myanmar". Amnesty International. 14 October 2011. Retrieved 13 January 2012.