Thant Tun, Manchester, United Kingdom
Thant Tun has been involved in the struggle for democracy in Myanmar since birth. She grew up in the compound of Rangoon University, where her mother was a librarian, and witnessed the arrest of many students during the U Thant uprising in 1974. In 1988 she became involved in the ‘8888’ student revolution and was forced to leave Burma the following year. Her late uncle was a political activist and journalist who wrote a book on federal democracy, he died at age 93 and was arrested many times in his life for speaking out for democracy.
Thant works as a NHS nurse clinician but spends her spare time fighting for democracy in Myanmar. She supported the Saffron Revolution in 2007; during the recent unrest her god-daughter, Khin Nyein Thu, was arbitrarily detained in Yangon on 17th April by the military and later tortured. There is no news of her release.
This is Thant’s story:
“First we became aware of my god-daughter’s unlawful arrest on the evening of 17th April, after that the state media run by the military junta released pictures of her and other youths, showing they had been beaten ruthlessly - she had facial injuries consistent with fractures, her face was not recognisable, which was very distressing for family and friends.
This needs to stop. I would like to make the international community aware that these types of human rights violations and atrocities affect many in Myanmar, people who are arbitrarily detained have no access to medicine or legal assistance.
It was a huge blow to hear about the Myanmar military staged coup on 1st February; it was about 22:45 hour GMT time and a friend from Myanmar sent a message - I was shocked and saddened. All the freedom that we have fought for, our hopes and dreams are destroyed.
After three decades of fighting for democracy we felt that we finally got some freedom under the civilian government - the country has developed so much and young people are far more educated than before. The coup was a catastrophe for our motherland.
Our family has always believed in the voice of people and against the junta, so I started working with a few friends to speak out for Myanmar. We wrote to our MPs and to the foreign minister urging them to condemn the military coup and demand the release of political prisoners; we called on the British government to impose targeted sanctions on companies owned by the Myanmar military and their associates.
We also called on the U.K. government to build a global coalition of countries imposing arms embargoes on Myanmar, and asked the government to join the genocide case at the International Court of Justice and to publicly support the referral of the Myanmar situation to the International Court of Justice.
We also raise funds to support people of Myanmar for their food, shelter and basic commodities.
The international community must act soon to stop the human rights abuse and torture of innocent civilians.”
Photo captions: Thant Tun; Thant Tun doing 3-finger ‘Hunger Games’ democracy salute for Myanmar (Copyright: Thant Tun.)