Former political prisoner ‘forgotten’ by NLD, struggles to make ends meet

Former political prisoner Aung Hein Yay Oo, 74, also known as Kyaw Nyunt.
Former political prisoner Aung Hein Yay Oo, 74, also known as Kyaw Nyunt.

A former civil servant, NLD activist, and political prisoner has received an outpouring of sympathy online after sharing an essay about his struggle to survive without the support of the party he once fought for – the party that now controls Myanmar’s government.

Aung Hein Yay Oo, 74, worked for the Education Department in Katha in 12 years leading up to 1988, when anti-government protests erupted across Myanmar demanding multi-party democracy. He was arrested and imprisoned under Section 5 of the Emergency Provisions Act for reciting a poem at a rally, since then, he has never fully regained his freedom.

“When we were released from prison, we [political prisoners] were not able to live a peaceful life, and intelligence agents would often come to ask our families questions that made them miserable. We were ordered: ‘Don’t go here. Don’t go there.’ The suffering and difficulties we endured were endured by our families,” he wrote in a Feb. 20 Facebook post that nearly 5,000 reactions and 7,000 shares.

He also has never been able to collect the two pension he says he should have earned through his various positions as a civil servant before his arrest. Without them, he struggles to support himself.

“Under U Thein Sein’s government, laws were established to carry this out, but the departments, despite being able to do so, refused to properly distribute the pensions,” he writes.

The ascent of Aung San Suu Kyi’s NLD party to power has not improved Aung Hein Yay Oo’s situation. Though he presented supporting documentation to the Education Department in Katha Township in 2014, he has still received no reply.

“It is like our government isn’t working to do this properly.”

On top of that, he says also can’t get a new job because of his criminal record, even though his crime was pro-democracy activism.

“I can’t work with a criminal record. I want to enjoy my rights… I want to at least get one of my pensions before I die,” he writes.

His post ends with two questions for the NLD: “Have you forgotten us? Have you thrown us away?”

The post appears to have struck a chord with other former NLD activists. Here are some replies from commenters:

political prisoner comment
Dear Saya Kyi, like you, while working with the NLD, I was imprisoned five times under laws relating to participation in politics. My life continues to be broken, but I continue to work for the NLD. I am the author, Maung Myay Mun (Chaung U). I suffered like you did. Political prisoners are definitely being ignored.
mmktggw comment
I hope you get the pension that your work experience and education entitle you to. His work and efforts deserves to be recognized and not ignored.

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