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Partner Organisation - Burma

AAPP (Assistance Association for Political Prisoners)

Photo: Sophie Baker

Through the tireless efforts of Bo Kyi and his colleagues at AAPP, we have been able to distribute financial grants to hundreds of prisoners of conscience and their families, totalling £56,800. In many cases, prisoners of conscience were the main breadwinners for their families before they were arrested. Many families cannot afford to visit imprisoned family members regularly, especially when they are held in prisons far from home, a tactic deliberately employed by the regime as a form of psychological torture. Our funds enable families to travel to see their loved ones as well as paying for emergency health care. Money is also used for education costs to enable the children of prisoners of conscience to continue their schooling. The support we are able to provide directly to prisoners of conscience and their families not only helps to take care of basic needs, but also provides a much-needed morale boost. Our beneficiaries tell us that just knowing that someone cares can make a huge difference.

Without Bo Kyi’s courageous commitment to the cause, we would not be able to reach these brave individuals. As a college student, Bo Kyi participated in Burma’s “8.8.88 Uprising,” a popular revolt against military rule that reached a turning point on August 8, 1988. On that day, after months of unrest, millions of people took to the streets calling for an end to military rule. The military government’s violent response to the uprising resulted in the deaths of an estimated 3,000 people during the seven months of protests.

“The outside world largely ignored events inside Burma, but for me there was no escape,” said Bo Kyi. “As a student in Rangoon, I participated in many demonstrations and witnessed the brutal suppression by the riot police that killed and wounded so many.”

Bo Kyi ultimately spent seven years and three months in prison for his political activism. He suffered repeated interrogations, beatings, shackling, and torture in prison, amid squalid living conditions. In prison, Bo Kyi learned to speak and write in English, hiding his educational materials each time a warden passed his cell.

Upon his release from prison, Bo Kyi fled to the Burma-Thailand border, where he helped to found the Assistance Association of Political Prisoners in Mae Sot, Thailand.

As of March 2013 approximately 222 political activists remain imprisoned in Burma, where they endure abysmal treatment. The number political prisoners decreased sharply in January 2012 when many hundreds were released as part of a government amnesty.

Assistance Association of Political Prisoners (AAPP) works on behalf of current and former political prisoners and their families. It provides them with financial support and medical care, monitors prison conditions, and advocates internationally for the prisoners’ release.

For more information visit AAPP’s website