Saturday, September 29, 2007

Fighting for Burma

Sitting on the steps leading to Wheeler Hall, waiting for our Political Science class to begin, Min Zin started telling me the story of how he had spent most of his teenaged years on the run from the Burmese junta. From age 14 onwards, he had hidden in temples and underneath floor boards in the homes of sympathetic villagers, keeping still for hours on end, afraid not only for his own personal safety, but for the fate of his protectors, who had nothing much to begin with, but were putting all that they had at stake for a belief.

He was a student who turned to activism and journalism (The Irrawaddy) when his world came crashing down with the arrest of his older siblings in the 1988 crackdown on Burmese university undergrads. He was already in his late 20s when we spent nine months trudging from lecture hall to lecture hall in 2001/02. Yet, being older and having had his formal education prematurely halted had not dimmed his desire for learning.

Since then, Min Zin's story has become fairly well known. He continues to work as a journalist for Radio Free Asia, and when I see the shocking images of monks and ordinary Burmese being gunned down by soldiers, I think of Min Zin feverishly trying to get the story out to a world already weary of war, destruction and killing.

Picture credit: Copyright USIP

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