Hkun Htun Oo, the imprisoned Shan leader whose party, Shan Nationalities League for Democracy (SNLD), won second place nationwide and first place statewise during the 1990 elections, is said to be getting fragile in health, but still kneeling down to nobody in spirit, according to Shan cartoonist Hsailed Banyen, better known as Harn Lay to his worldwide fans, on Sunday, the day Hkun Htun Oo turned 68.
“We should not beg for his release from the regime,” he said. “He would have been against the move.”
On the contrary, he hoped the Naypyitaw government believed as he did that the release of Hkun Htun Oo and 2,000 other prisoners of conscience would be a wholesome contribution to the cause of democracy for the country and right of self determination for all the indigenous peoples.
Hkun Htun Oo has been in Putao prison since 2005 after being sentenced to 93 years.
“How longstanding is the grudge that a person should be subject to a sentence which is more than a life time?” Hsailed asked. “Was it because the killing of his uncle Sao Kya Hseng (Prince of Hsipaw who was detained during the 1962 coup and later disappeared) was not enough?”
The outspoken Hkun Htun Oo was praised by Shans and non-Shans alike for his presentation at the 1993 National Convention, organized by the military government to draw up basic principles for the future constitution. “He spoke not just for Shans, but for the whole country,” the exile group of representatives-elect said at that time.
His birthday ceremony in Chiangmai was attended by representatives from the Shan State Army, Women’s League of Burma and the Ethnic Nationalities Council. “Releasing Hkun Htun Oo and other imprisoned leaders will show that President U Thein Sein is serious about lasting peace,” says the ENC statement.
According to Radio Free Asia, the issue of political prisoners was high on the agenda during the meeting between President Thein Sein and democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi on 19 August.