Imprisoned student leader awarded human rights prize

Apr 24, 2009 (DVB), The imprisoned leader of the student group that incited the 2007 monk-led protests in Burma has been awarded a prize by a South Korean foundation for promoting human rights and democracy.

Min Ko Naing, of 88 Generation Students, was sentenced to 65 years in prison in November 2008 for his role in organizing the 2007 demonstrations.

Shortly after, he was transferred to the remote Kengtung prison in Shan state.

The Gwangju Prize for Human Rights honours individuals and groups in Korea and abroad that have contributed to promoting and advancing human rights, democracy and peace in their work.

It is awarded by the May 18 Memorial Foundation, a South Korean group set up to commemorate the popular uprising on 18 May, 1980 in Korea.

Yan Naing Htun, of Burmese opposition National League for Democracy-Liberated Area, South Korea branch, said the award is highly respected in Korea.

"Min Ko Naing was chosen as a winner this year for his ongoing struggle against dictatorship by the Burmese junta since his early life as a university student despite prison term handed to him throughout this time," he said.

"Even now, he's continuing his fight in prison without bowing down to pressure."

The prize was awarded to imprisoned opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi in 2004.

Min Ko Naing was sentenced last year along with 22 others who were involved in the 2007 uprising. The United States has strongly criticized the harsh punishments brought against activists arrested after the uprising.

Reporting by Aye Nai

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