News / Asia

Burma's Ex-Political Prisoners Face Challenges

Burma's Ex-Political Prisoners Face Challengesi
X
VOA News
December 22, 2012 10:37 PM
As Burma's government promises reform and change, hundreds of political prisoners still languish behind bars, under terrible conditions - victims of the previous government's iron-fisted rule. Even those who have been freed warn that they still face challenges after leaving prison.
VOA News
As Burma's government promises reform and change, hundreds of political prisoners still languish behind bars, under terrible conditions - victims of the previous government's iron-fisted rule. Even those who have been freed warn that they still face challenges after leaving prison.
 
In Burma's main city, progress edges forward slowly as economic development and political reform take shape.
 
But while many foreign businesses have been quick to forget Burma's troubled past, many residents are only now coming to grips with a legacy of fear and control left from decades of harsh military rule.
 
For ex-political prisoner Jaa Sao, the increase in visitors to his country means more pay. He spent more than six years behind bars for his political activity and was among the first group of prisoners the new government freed last year.
 
Now, Jaa Sao and a few other ex-prisoners have formed a new business - Golden Harp Taxi. Despite the country's business boom, Jaa Sao's focus is development of another sort.
 
“I have no interest in the government talking about changing. My interest is in helping my friends who are still in prison, and helping them rebuild their lives after they are released.  Now, I cannot afford to help the people still in prison, so I help those who are released.”

Former prisoners face many difficulties in the outside world, such as unemployment and travel restrictions.
 
In Rangoon, Jaa Sao and many like him meet at the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners office to discuss the new challenges in their lives.
 
Ex-political prison Tu Kyi, who spent more than 10 years behind bars, says government intimidation often continues after release.

"The biggest problem is that people in the surrounding area worry that, if they make friends with an ex-prisoner, they could face interrogation by the authorities. So they are still fearful of the authorities."
 
Ko Thein of the All Burma Students Democratic Front was part of the most recent release, which coincided with President Obama's historic visit in November.
 
While Ko Thein is relieved to be free, he holds onto strong bonds that he built while in jail.
 
“I am happy to be with my family, but I feel bad for those who are left behind in prison. I feel I have a responsibility to try to help them. Because of this responsibility I wish to turn to the media to send out this information.”
 
The government promised to release all political prisoners by year's end. It's not certain that will happen, but one thing is sure: Jaa Sao and his friends will be ready to help their comrades return to normal life.

You May Like

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More