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Free Nilar Thein, Brave Woman Activist from Myanmar

Nilar Thein, born in 1972, was one of the most prominent women activists in Burma. She is now one of more than 175 women locked away in Burmese prisons for their pro-democracy activities.When Nilar Thein was 16 years old, she joined the All Burma Federation of Student Unions (ABFSU) and took part in the demonstrations in 1988, as part of the so-called ’88 Generation Students’, comprising former student leaders and political prisoners.

Three years later, she was detained and questioned for 2 months in the notorious Insein Prison.

When she was 24, Nila Thein joined ’96 Generation’ of student activists who staged bold demonstrations against military rule in December 1996, when she was again arrested.

During student demonstrations in 1998 she was once more arrested and this time sentenced to 10 years in jail. During her time in Thrawaddy prison she sufferred acute health problems.

Nilar is a passionate woman activist who has won international awards for her courageuos and brave activism

Nilar Thein was finally released in 2005.

In the following May she married Kyaw Min Yu, a leader of the 88 Generation Students,.

Together, they continued to struggle with others for democracy and a better life for all in Burma.

In May of the next year, just before the 2007 demonstrations began,  their daughter was born, Phyu Nay Kyi Min Yu (Sunshine).

Both regarded their pro-democracy work as an investment in Sunshine’s future.

“We want her to grow up in a just, democratic society, free from fear and conflict,” Nilar Thein has said.

“A midnight knock at our door… changed our lives dramatically”, Nila Thein recollected in an article she wrote in 2008,

“The military junta’s security forces took my husband Kyaw Min Yu (also known as Jimmy) on the night of August 21, 2007… He and other leaders were taken from their homes that night by the authorities.”

Jimmy was arrested, along with at least a dozen other opposition activists who had demonstrated that day against the sharp increases in the price of fuel which were announced with no warning.

Nilar Thein with her husband and her babay daughter Sunshine

Nilar Thein managed to avoid the security services hunting her for more than a year. Then, when Sunshine was sixteen months old, her mother was arrested – 10th September 2008.

By December 2008, all of the 88 Generation Students on trial had each received sentences of 65 years, with still more charges pending against them.

Nilar Thein was charged with the same list of 22 offenses as the 88 Generation Student activists. She was also sentenced her to 65 years in prison.

The charges against them include libel against foreign powers, statements causing public mischief, and unlawful association.

In 2008, Nilar Thein, Phyu Phyu Thin and Su Su Nway received the Homo Homini award from the ‘People in Need’ organisation, a Czech-based group, for their promotion of democracy, human rights and nonviolent solutions to political conflicts.

Nilar Thein and her husband are imprisoned hundreds of miles from each other, and from their families. Visits are rare and they have only seen their daughter on a few occasions.

Alone in their seperate prisons, Nilar Thein and Jimmy have seen little or nothing of baby Sunshine since that grim month of 2007.

Please help Nilar Thein and other mothers unjustly detained by the military regime of Burma (Myanmar) by signing the petition which can be found at this link


Nilar Thein and her husband Jimmy were released from prison on 13 January!

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