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Freedom Collection

Interviews with Khin Lay

Interviewed July 16, 2024

I come from a business family background. So my parents were businessmen before the 1988 students uprising [a protest that began when students clashed with the military over the regime’s economic policies]. After the 1988 uprising, the economic situation is totally different from the past. That’s why our life changed, not only in politics, but also in business. So, firstly, I intended to be a lecturer in a university. That’s why I studied to get a master’s degree in physics in Yangon University, an arts and science university. Now, recently Mr. President [Barack] Obama [44th President of the United States] came and gave a speech at that university [President Obama visited Burma in November 2012]. And after Daw Aung San Suu Kyi was first released in 1995, we usually went and listened to her speeches [Aung San Suu Kyi is the leader of the main Burmese opposition party, the National League for Democracy (NLD). She led the NLD to victory in the 1990 elections, but the military government ignored the results and put her under house arrest. She was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991].

She made a public speech in front of her friends every Saturday and Sunday. So after listening to her speeches again and again, I was really inspired and motivated to do politics in person. Previously, our family is a strong supporter of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. As you know, that Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is the daughter of our independence hero, General Aung San. So we love her very much. Her father passed away when she was two years old, so we are very passionate for her and her family. That’s why we love her. As I said before, that after Daw Aung San Suu Kyi was first released in 1995, we listened to her talk publicly.

And I was really inspired and motivated to join NLD. But at that time, I was studying for my master’s degree. So after I finished my studies, I joined NLD full-time. But there is another reason I joined is that, firstly, I just attend and join and listened to the book club and many other activities they usually did in The Lady’s [Aung San Suu Kyi’s nickname] yard and headquarters. But I didn’t join full-time. But after 1997 and 1998, there was a, we call, operation. Thousands of NLD members got arrested, because, you know, at that time, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi announced that – they were called the people parliament [Committee Representing the People’s Parliament – a coalition of opposition forces] – if the authority didn’t recognize the result of the 1990 election, she would make some of the people parliament or some other activities if the government didn’t do it in time.

So from after this statement, most of the NLD members were arrested. So at that time, there were very few members who worked in headquarters, NLD headquarters. That’s why we decided, I and others, some of my colleagues decided to join NLD to work as a full-time volunteer.