I Want to Hear Bells not Guns, Says Min Ko Naing

Min Ko Naing and other 88 Generation leaders present a donation to a Kachin community representative during their visit to Myitkyina on Saturday. (PHOTO: 88 Generation Students)

Min Ko Naing and other 88 Generation leaders present a donation to a Kachin community representative during their visit to Myitkyina on Saturday. (PHOTO: 88 Generation Students)

Almost immediately after canceling an overseas trip to the United States, prominent Burmese activist Min Ko Naing traveled to war-torn Kachin State where he met refugees and other people affected by the ongoing conflict.

Accompanied by colleagues from the Rangoon-based 88 Generation Students Group, Min Ko Naing, a former political prisoner, unexpectedly canceled his trip to the US where he was due to receive an award for his devotion to democratic values this week. He said he had decided to show solidarity with over a dozen of his fellow 88 Generation activists whose applications for passports had been denied.

On Saturday he traveled to Myitkyina, the Kachin capital, where about 1,000 local residents gathered to greet him. He then continued to the township of Hpakant in western Kachin State where hundreds of Kachin refugees are sheltering from hostilities between Burmese government forces and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA).

At each stage, Min Ko Naing addressed enthusiastic crowds, shook hands and spoke with supporters.

“Instead of gunfire, I wish to hear bells ringing from churches instead of gunfire, I wish to hear bells ringing from schools,” Min Ko Naing said, according to Pastor Bau Tu Ja at the Kachin Baptist Church in Hpakant who relayed the message to The Irrawaddy.

The pastor was one of some 500 Kachins who had gathered inside the church to welcome the popular 88 Generation group leader. Min Ko Naing was accompanied by colleagues Htay Kywe, Pyone Cho, Mar Kee and Thet Zaw on Sunday.

Bau Tu Ja said that he admired Min Ko Naing because he had declined an opportunity to receive a prestigious award by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) in the US, but had come to a war zone to meet with refugees instead.

“We respect him and his political beliefs. We also thank him for visiting us. We are proud of him,” said the Christian pastor.

Speaking to Associated Press on Saturday, Min Ko Naing said, “On principle, I will not travel alone when my colleagues are denied their citizens’ rights. We should be treated as equals and be given passports together.”

Min Ko Naing and four other Burmese activists—Hkun Htun Oo, Aung Din, Cynthia Maung and Kyaw Thu—are scheduled to be honored with awards by the NED in Washington on Thursday next week.

Pyone Cho told The Irrawaddy on Monday that his group had met with civilians in Myitkyina and refugees in Hpakant where they visited and consoled the displaced people. The 88 Generation Students Group also offered some donations to the refugees they met, he said, and met with some KIA soldiers in Hpakant on Sunday.

Rev. Lama Yaw, a pastor at the Kachin Baptist Convention in Myitkyina, on Saturday said that the 88 Generation Students representatives emphasized the necessity of peace between the government and the Kachin rebels, and that ethnic minorities must be granted equal rights in order to build a true federal state in Burma.

Bau Tu Ja said: “We want peace, not in Hpakant alone but the whole of Kachin State. Despite the many developments under President Thein Sein, we have seen no changes in our region.

“The war is ongoing. The government troops are still in Kachin State, and civilians still live in fear. We want the government to withdraw their troops and have political dialogue with the Kachin rebels to find a solution for real peace and democracy,” he said.

According to KIA sources, the Burmese army has escalated its military offensive against KIA bases around Hpakant since August, forcing some 8,000 people to flee their homes.

A schoolgirl died and five other children were injured when crossfire mistakenly broke out between two Burmese army units for nearly three hours last week nearby Hpakant. The 88 Generation Students leaders met with parents of the dead schoolgirl and offered their condolences.

10 Responses to I Want to Hear Bells not Guns, Says Min Ko Naing

  1. George Than Setkyar Heine

    Min Ko Naing DID THE RIGHT THING of course.
    Awards and medals can wait as well.
    KIA led Kachins NEED URGENT HELP today.
    Min Ko Naing certainly SEES the POINT no doubt as well.
    Hence, he and his colleagues (8888 generation students) should DRIVE THE POINT HOME first and foremost.
    Thein Sein’s PEACE FINDING OUTFIT (led by Daw Suu) targeted for conclusion (peace) in 2015 is a FARCE and DELAYING TACTIC only to SUIT Thein Sein’s boss Than Shwe’s AGENDA/PURPOSE as well.
    And it would serve BETTER for the MATTER as well in case Min Ko Naing head a campaign for ETHNIC PEACE starting with the CALLS for
    2. TAKING GENERAL CESUS of Burma IMMEDIATELY (for Border Security).
    3. SUPPORTING FARMERS/CULTIVATORS whose lands the regime’s CRONIES have GRABBED for free/pittance as well.among others.
    And Daw Suu will DO HER JOB as required and warranted in Thein Sein’s parliament as well of course on the other hand as well.

  2. Why doesn’t Gen. Min Aung Hlaing care about President Thein Sein’s leadership? Thein Sein wants reform but there are many obstacles in his way which were caused by Min Aung Hlaing. What is going on between Thein Sein and Min Aung Hlaing? The President is supposed to be Commander-in-Chief of the Union of Myanmar. Now, Min Aung Hlaing seems supreme leader of the Union.

  3. The Burmese Freedom Fighter

    Your wish for the sound of bell ring rather than the noise of gun fires at war torn zone of Burma is touching the heart of each and every one of us. Your take on current Burma situation keeps the hope of Burmese people alive, especially those in at risk of their lives.

    Keep your high stand against the oppression to get Burma out of mistrust and vengeful mind set of all players on stage. You are truly aspiration of resilience for all of us.

    The Burmese Freedom Fighter

  4. I hope NLD and 88 Generation leaders are leading the government of Myanmar. Without compassion and love, the current regime seems leading us to nowhere near to peace and tranquility in the Union. All the people of Myanmar are adoring NLD and 88 Generations.

  5. I respect MKN just for his endurance alone, during torture and jail time. He did not run away from these and become an American or British citizen.

    Just one feedback, please concentrate your time on the peace efforts; cause the current govt peace initiatives are not achieving its objectives esp in Kachin state due to mistrust and legacy problems (even if the current team has nothing to do with it).

    Your names will forever be in the annals of MM civilization!

  6. Dear Min Ko Naing,
    You are absolutely right. I agreed with you. I have one thing to remind you. The border town or city next to the border of China there are some ethnic chinese ( whether they come in legally or illegally or they used to live for century and become the automatic citizen ) they practicing their faith and religions freely is good thing and it is beautiful. At the same time please do not forget the same scenario the Arakan state there are some muslims living ( whether you call a Rohingya or Rakhine muslim or Bangalis) let their prayer room or Mousque doors are opens with lights and reminding sound of daily 5 times prayer sounds come out from their also should happen again without any discrimination will be fair and square for our society. I know you are not the selfish politician but I remind you from the bottom of my heart becaseu we were very felt very sorry when same today’s military government put you in the jail mercyless.


  7. Show of true leadership by 8888 generation leader u min ko naing & group by visiting armed-conflict-area.

  8. When I was in college, neither University Student Union nor Student Union of Burma had never involve in such kind of political issue what Min Ko Naing is doing now. Ko Thet or Ko Ba Shwe Lay had never gone to Karen State or Kachin to solve the ethnice problem. Min Ko Naing should not go to far. If he involve in many issues, he may make a mistake in one of these issues. The government will have chance to blame on him.

  9. Min Ko Naing DID THE RIGHT THING of course.
    Min Ko Naing is not interested in awards and medals
    His decision not to go to US is followed by release of prisoners.
    With Min Ko Naing and Aung san Su Kyi working together,burma is on the right track,they are able to prevent the bad elements left within the government with ulterior motives.

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