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2012 NED Democracy Award Recipients
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  • Honoree Biographies for the National Endowment for Democracy's 2012 Democracy Award

    Min Ko Naing is a founding member of the 88 Generation Students Group, which played a key role in the 2007 Saffron Revolution. He rose to international prominence for his leadership role in the pro-democracy protests in 1988 (popularly known as the “8888 Uprising”), during which time he was chairman of the All Burma Federation of Student Unions (ABFSU). The New York Times has described him as Burma’s “most influential opposition figure after Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.” Both the 8888 Uprising and 2007 Saffron Revolution were violently repressed by the military regime. As a key leader of both, Min Ko Naing spent the majority of the last 20 years in prison, much of it in solitary confinement. He was released on January 13, 2012, in a mass presidential amnesty. During the past two decades, Min Ko Naing has received numerous international awards for his courage, conviction, and dedication to nonviolence and democracy. These awards include the 2009 Gwangju Prize for Human Rights; the 2005 Civic Courage Prize, which he shared with Anna Politkovskaya and Munir Said Thailib; the 2000 Homo Homini Award from People in Need; and the 1999 John Humphrey Freedom Award, which he shared with Dr. Cynthia Maung.

    Khun Htun Oo is a leading politician from Burma’s Shan State and Chairman of the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy (SNLD) party. Following the 8888 Uprising, he ran in the 1990 parliamentary elections as the head of the SNLD, which won 23 seats, the second most of any party after the National League for Democracy (NLD). After the military government annulled the results, Hkun Htun Oo continued to work for democratic change within the country, for which he was arrested in 2005 and given a 93-year prison term for treason, defamation, and inciting dissatisfaction toward the government. Amnesty International recognized him as a prisoner of conscience, and in December 2008, he was awarded honorary Italian citizenship by the mayor of Monza. In March 2011, the United Nationalities Alliance, a group representing several minorities in Burma, awarded him the Nationalities Hero prize for his “dedication and struggle for ethnic groups and national reconciliation.” He was released from prison in a presidential amnesty on January 13, 2012.

    Kyaw Thu is a two-time Myanmar Academy Award winning film director and actor, as well as founder and president of the Free Funeral Service Society (FFSS), which, since 2001, has provided free funeral services to more than 110,000 people across Burma. In addition, FFSS operates a free clinic for the poor, supports scholarships, organizes vocational and computer trainings, and helps to meet the health needs of former political prisoners. A leading man in Burmese cinema in the 1980s and 1990s, Kyaw Thu gradually turned his attention to social work, and by serving as volunteer president of FFSS, became one of the most prominent members of Burma’s civil society. In 2007, he and his wife were arrested after publicly supporting the Saffron Revolution, after which he was banned from the film industry. After his release, Kyaw Thu and FFSS played a vital role in rescue and fundraising efforts in the aftermath of Cyclone Nargis, which devastated Burma’s Irrawaddy delta and cost over 130,000 lives in May 2008.

    Dr. Cynthia Maung is an ethnic Karen medical doctor and founder of the Mae Tao Clinic in Mae Sot, Thailand on the Thai-Burmese border. She founded the clinic soon after fleeing to Thailand in the aftermath of the 8888 Uprising, where she works with a staff of over 700 people to provide medical services to refugees, migrant workers and orphans. The clinic receives 400–500 patients daily, treating such conditions as malaria, respiratory disease and diarrhea, as well as gunshot wounds and land mine injuries. Dr. Cynthia and the Mae Tao Clinic have received numerous international awards, including the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy’s Asia Democracy and Human Rights Award, the Ramon Magsaysay Award, the John Humphrey Freedom Award, the Jonathan Mann Health and Human Rights Award, Catalonia’s International Prize, which she won in conjunction with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, and most recently, the Freedom to Create Leadership for Women Award.

    Aung Din served over four years behind bars as a political prisoner in Burma after helping to organize the country’s nationwide pro-democracy uprising in 1988 as Vice-Chairperson of the All Burma Federation of Student Unions (ABFSU), the largest national student organization and outlawed by the regime. He also served as Vice-Chairman of Burma’s Youth Liberation Front (BYLF), and as Cabinet Secretary of the Parallel Government, which was founded by former Prime Minister U Nu during the peak of the 1988 pro-democracy uprising. Amnesty International recognized him as a prisoner of conscience in 1989, and its chapters worldwide campaigned for his release. In 2003, he co-founded the Washington, DC-based U.S. Campaign for Burma (USCB), an umbrella group of Burmese dissidents in exile and American activists, where he now serves as executive director.

 


Advancing Democracy in Burma: New Challenges and Opportunities from National Endowment for Democracy on Vimeo.

 

September 18, 2012 - NED hosted a panel discussion with the four Democracy Award recipients (Min Ko Naing was not present.)

National Endowment for Democracy (NED) - Washington, D.C.

 

 

 


2012 Democracy Award Intro Video from National Endowment for Democracy on Vimeo.

 

September 20, 2012 - Introductory video of the recipients shown at the 2012 NED Democracy Award Ceremony

U.S. Capitol - Washington, D.C.

 

 

 


Min Ko Naing from National Endowment for Democracy on Vimeo.

 

September 20, 2012 - Speech sent from Min Ko Naing offering his apologies for not being present at the ceremony

 

 

 


The 2012 Democracy Award: Rep. Joe Crowley from National Endowment for Democracy on Vimeo.

 

September 20, 2012 - Representative Joe Crowley, a long-time Burma supporter, gives his remarks at the NED ceremony

U.S. Capitol, Washington D.C.

 

 


The 2012 Democracy Award: Aung San Suu Kyi from National Endowment for Democracy on Vimeo.

 

September 20, 2012 - Daw Aung San Suu Kyi expresses her appreciation and gratitude to the five recipients

U.S. Capitol - Washington, D.C.

 

 


The 2012 Democracy Award: Award Presentation and Honorees from National Endowment for Democracy on Vimeo.

 

September 20, 2012 - 2012 NED Democracy Award recipients speak individually, accepting this honor for their work

U.S. Capitol - Washington, D.C.

 

 


The 2012 Democracy Award: Nancy Pelosi from National Endowment for Democracy on Vimeo.

 

September 20, 2012 - Representative Nancy Pelosi thanks the recipients for their efforts towards democracy and freedom in Burma

U.S. Capitol - Washington, D.C.

 

 


The 2012 Democracy Award: Award for Aung San Suu Kyi from National Endowment for Democracy on Vimeo.

 

September 20, 2012 - Daw Aung San Suu Kyi accepts her long overdue award from NED

U.S. Capitol - Washington, D.C.

 

 


The 2012 Democracy Award: Welcome by NED Chairman Richard Gephardt from National Endowment for Democracy on Vimeo.

 

September 20, 2012 - Hon. Richard Gephardt honors the five recipients

U.S. Capitol - Washington, D.C.

 

 


The 2012 Democracy Award: Maria Otero from National Endowment for Democracy on Vimeo.

 

September 20, 2012 - Hon. Maria Otero offers her remarks at the NED ceremony

U.S. Capitol - Washington, D.C.

 

 


The 2012 Democracy Award: Sen. John McCain from National Endowment for Democracy on Vimeo.

 

September 20, 2012 - Senator John McCain, a consistent Burma advocate, gives his special thanks to the recipients at the NED award ceremony

U.S. Capitol - Washington, D.C.