After 13 years Min Ko Naing received in person Homo Homini Award in PraguePublished: Oct 4, 2013 Reading time: 3 minutes
Prague, October 4, 2013 – Min Ko Naing, the leading Burmese democracy activist from the 88 Generation Student Group, ex-post recieved the Homo Homini Award in Prague.
For his outstanding courage and effort he demonstrated during his political activism and struggle for democracy in Burma, Min Ko Naing was originally awarded in 2000, but due to his long term imprisonment he never had the opportunity to personally receive the award.
„When I received the Award in 2000 it was my eleventh year in the jail and I felt like to be forgotten. Homo Homini was light that showed me it was not true,“ said Min Ko Naing during the Homo Homini ceremony the 3rd October 2013 in Prague.
“It was Václav Havel who proved that the true love to humanity cannot be limited by nationalism, religion or discrimination. Me and Václav Havel, we were not close friends, we lived ten thousands kilometers far from each other. But under the roof of freedom, peace and human rights we were like family,” said Min Ko Naing.
The Award Ceremony included film screening ‘Burmese prisoners’, recitation of the Czech translation of Min Ko Naing’s poem and discussion with public about social and political developments in Burma.
Min Ko Naing asked international community to keep supporting Burma and to get to know the country closer. He stressed Burma needs new constitution. “It is necessary to amend our constitution that is not democratic and gives too much power to the army,” said Min Ko Naing. According to him Burmese people especially need to build civil society - to learn their rights and accept their responsibility.
The Homo Homini Award was originally handed over by former Czech President Václav Havel and received on behalf of the Min Ko Naing by Bo Kyi, co-founder of the Assistance Association of Political Prisoners (AAPP).
Since 1994 the Homo Homini Award is given annually by the leading Czech humanitarian and human rights organization People in Need to an individual in recognition of a dedication to the promotion of human rights, democracy and non-violent solutions to political conflicts. Until his passing away, the award has traditionally been handed over by former Czech President Václav Havel. Among its past recipients are Azerbaijanian lawyer Intigam Aliyev, or the jailed Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo. In 2007 three Burmese democracy activists Su Su Nway, Phyu Phyu Thin a Nilar Thein were granted.
Currently Min Ko Naing is visiting Europe for the first time. He came to Prague to participate in the conference Civil Society: Freedom is not to be Taken for Granted, where Min Ko Naing belonged to the key panelists. Other participants came from the countries which have, together with Burma, been in the focus of Vaclav Havel’ s interest Cuba, Belarus, Azerbaijan, Iran, Russia and China. The conference was organized by Václav Havel Library on the occasion of the first presentation of the Václav Havel Award for Human Rights which honors outstanding civil society action in defence of human rights. The prize was granted to the Belarusian human rights activist Ales Bialiatski who was arrested by Belarusian authorities in 2011 and is held in prison until today.
Apart from award ceremony and the conference, Min Ko Naing met in Prague several important experts in political and economical transformation and had the opportunity to discuss key problems concerning the transforming situation in Burma. He also met representatives of Ministry of Foreign Affairs and spent time with Czech Burmese community.
Adéla Pospíchalová, Centre for Democracy and Human Rights, People in Need
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