PRISONERS ARE OUR KEEPERS OF CONSCIENCE…

February 6th, 2011

MYANMAR/BURMA — The, now-former, No. 1 prisoner of the State Peace and Development Council has not forgotten nos. 2-2200+ who remain imprisoned for political crimes against the state. Writing in her monthly Letter From Burma for the Mainichi Daily News, Aung San Suu Kyi reminds the world that thousands are not yet free.

There remain in the jails of Burma over two thousand two hundred political prisoners of whom barely twenty are known by name to the world at large. The more than two thousand who remain anonymous are our unknown soldiers, the unsung heroes and heroines who have worked quietly to keep the movement for democracy strong and vital.

On 4 January 2011, the Sixty Third Anniversary of Burma’s Independence from colonialism, the National Leagues for Democracy arranged a random draw of the names of political prisoners by those who were willing to take the responsibility of supporting them materially or morally as far as circumstances allowed. The young man who fell to my lot was one of the unknown soldiers. He had been arrested in 2007 for attempting to pray for the release of political prisoners at the Shwedagon Pagoda.

Many of the young people who had all been involved in the prayer movement were now scattered in prisons across Burma but he was relatively fortunate as he was at Insein Jail, not too far away from his home. Preparing the food parcel to be sent to him was a reminder of the abstemious conditions under which our comrades in jail have to pass their days.

There are many simple ways in which prisoners of conscience act as the keepers of our conscience. When I was under house arrest, I made a habit of having breakfast quite late so that in my hunger I would not forget our comrades who were incarcerated not in their own homes but in jails, often in places far distant from where their families lived.

I knew they would not only be much hungrier than I was but would also be obliged to make do with the meagre and tasteless rations that would be meted out to them. It renewed my commitment to our cause and refreshed my respect and affection for my colleagues on a daily basis.

How might I, how might you, act today and tomorrow?

Do what you can to make this a good morning, Myanmar.

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