The National Endowment for Democracy honored five activists in Burma’s democracy movement with its annual Democracy Award on Thursday in Washington, D.C.
|Award recipients Kyaw Thu, Aung Din, Dr Cynthia and Hkun Htun Oo with Aung San Suu Kyi Photo: Maetao clinic|
Hkun Htun Oo, who released from prison in January, and is the chairman of the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy. He is known for his struggle for democracy and national reconciliation among Burma’s many ethnic groups.
Kyaw Thu is a film director and actor-turned activist who heads one of the country’s most important civil society organizations, the Free Funeral Service Society.
Dr. Cynthia Maung, an ethnic Karen medical doctor, who has operated a health clinic for displaced people on the Thai-Burmese Border for more than 20 years.
Aung Din, a leader of the 1988 student movement and a former political prisoner, who is the co-founder and executive director of the US Campaign for Burma.
Min Ko Naing, a key leader of both the 1988 student movement and the 2007 Saffron Revolution, who spent most of the past 20 years as a political prisoner in solitary confinement until his release this January. Min Ko Naing was not be in Washington but accepted the award in a video message. He said as long as his collegues were denied permission to travel to the US, he would not attend the ceremony.
More than one dozen of Min Ko Naing’s fellow democracy activists in Burma have had their applications for passports denied, said activists.
"I really value the award given by the National Endowment for Democracy, but I have decided not to travel to Washington to accept it," Min Ko Naing said. "On principle, I will not travel alone when my colleagues are denied their citizens' rights. We should be treated as equals and be given passports together."
Min Ko Naing was selected to be a award recipient due to his work as a founding member of the 88-Generation Students group, which played a key role in the Saffron Revolution.
Full biographies are available here.