It’s been the boringest of boring days. The day when I had to spend hours and hours doing receipts, reimbursements, bill paying, answering boring emails, eating boring food. I had to stand in boring lines at the post office and listened to boring music on the radio.
Imagine how boring it must be to sit in a small prison cell for years. Eating prison food and doing prison chores. Listening to prison sounds and taking cold prison showers. Imagine doing having to that when you haven’t even done anything wrong.
Imagine being put in a cell alone for years. With no windows, with hardly enough room to fit your body. Imagine the worst kind of torture done to your mind and your body. Imagine standing in water for weeks until you have lost all feeling in your feet.
Min Ko Naing hasn’t just imagined this. He has experienced it. He has been sentenced to 65 years in prison for organizing a peaceful demonstration, wishing for freedom in Burma. Before that he organized other demonstrations for democracy and freedom. He was one of the main student leaders during the 8888 uprisings (August 8th 1988). For his participation in these demonstrations he spent 15 years in Insein prison, Burma’s worst jail.
He is still in prison. His health is failing. His body is falling apart. He is in a prison somewhere in Shan State now. Alone, far from his family.
I have thought about him today. I have wondered how he thinks the progress in Burma is going. We have heard, from many international leaders, that the change in Burma is happening so fast. It is such a positive change. It is going the right way for democracy in Burma. I wonder if Min Ko Naing feels the same way as the osteoporosis he is suffering from, and the cold in his prison cell are eating their way into the core of his being.
I have been thinking of him and the almost 2000 other prisoners who are in jail simply because they did not agree with the military dictators. I have been wondering why the world is so quick to shout hurrah for a regime that does not have the guts to let these men and women free.
I am ashamed on the behalf of these leaders that do not seem to see that the issue in Burma goes far beyond their desire to lift economic sanctions. It goes into the prisons where innocent men and women have sat for years. Wishing for freedom, and willing to give their lives to bring it to their people.
I think that we owe the thousands of political prisoners who are still suffering in their moldy, cold and wet cells to speak for them. I think we owe them to make some phone calls to some leaders and remind them that there is still plenty that must be done in Burma. I think we owe them to let the world know that if there ever was a time to keep sanctions firm, it is now.
That is what I think today. And when I think some more, I realize that my day was pretty good. I could stretch my body. I could eat several meals. I was not too cold or too hot. Nobody tortured me.