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New On The Freedom Collection: Zin Mar Aung

Article by Christopher Walsh March 28, 2013 //   3 minute read

Imagine spending 11 years of your life in prison, nine of which are in solitary confinement.  Your “crime” was reading a poem encouraging the government to respect political freedom.  Then one day, without explanation or warning, you’re released.  How do you return to everyday life?  Are you bitter?  Do you continue the activism that sent you to jail?  This is the story of Burmese freedom advocate Zin Mar Aung and it’s now on the Freedom Collection. 

In 1998, Zin Mar Aung was arrested at a peaceful protest rally for reading a poem and statement calling on the military government to respect the results of elections. She was detained and convicted before a military tribunal, which did not permit her to be represented by an attorney. Zin Mar Aung was sentenced to 28 years in prison. She spent 11 years as a prisoner of conscience, and nearly nine years of those years in solitary confinement. In 2009, she was suddenly released from captivity and resumed her civil society activities.  Through this adversity, Zin Mar Aung has maintained her optimism and dedication to making Burma free.  Her efforts to strengthen Burmese civil society have created organizations, like Rainfall and the Yangon School of Political Science, that encourage women and youth participation in public life.  In 2012, she was recognized by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton as a recipient of the annual “International Women of Courage” award.  Perhaps Zin Mar Aung’s efforts, and those of other freedom advocates, are paying off; Burma has recently shown signs of reform permitting Aung San Suu Kyi to run in parliamentary elections, easing restrictions on the press, and allowing greater freedom of assembly. 

Learn more about Zin Mar Aung’s struggle, witness her courage, and get her perspective on Burma’s recent reforms:




Christopher Walsh is the Program Coordinator for the Freedom Collection.