A veteran of Burma’s “8.8.88 Uprising,” Bo Kyi participated in the popular uprising in which millions of people took to the streets. An estimated 3,000 people were killed in junta’s violent backlash. Thousands more were injured and imprisoned, including Bo Kyi who spent seven years and three months in prison were he suffered repeated interrogations, beatings, shackling, and torture in prison, amid squalid living conditions.
Upon his release, he fled to the Burma-Thailand border, where he helped to found the Assistance Association of Political Prisoners (AAPP) in Mae Sot, Thailand, which works on behalf of current and former political prisoners and their families. The group provides financial support and medical care, monitors prison conditions, and conducts international advocacy for prisoners’ release.
Last February, in Mae Sot, Thailand, a transit point on the border with Burma, I met a Burmese man named Bo Kyi. He had smoker’s breath and bad teeth from chain-smoking cheroots, and he spoke passable English. His flat gaze gave very little away. Bo Kyi had been a political prisoner in Burma for many years. After his release, he had fled the country. In Mae Sot, he founded an organization called Assistance Association for Political Prisoners in Burma. His outfit occupied a small house on an obscure sidestreet-even in Thailand, dissidents aren’t safe from the reach of Burmese intelligence. In the front yard a wall was covered with black-and-white photographs-they looked like mug shots-of political prisoners in Burma, along with their length of sentence. Some of them had dates of death.
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The National Endowment for Democracy and Human Rights Watch are holding a meeting honoring Bo Kyi, Co-Founder, Assistance Association for Political Prisoners in Burma, and recipient of Human Rights Watch’s 2008 Human Rights Defender Award. Larry Diamond, International Forum for Democratic Studies, and Tom Malinowski, Human Rights Watch will join Bo Kyi to discuss the state of political prisoners in Burma and the current political environment inside the country.
Details: Tuesday, November 25, 2008. 12:00 PM – 2:00 PM (lunch served 12 PM to 12:30 PM) at the National Endowment for Democracy, 1025 F Street, NW, Suite 800, Washington, DC 20004. RSVP to Aung Maw Zin at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-378-9700 ext. 569 by November 21.