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A Mother’s grief

Mi Chit Phwar, mother of the 88 Generation Student leader, Min Zay Yar, who has been serving a 65 year and 5 month prison sentence in Lashio Prison, wanted desperately to see her son before she died. Unfortunately, the military-controlled government of Burma, notorious for its brutal treatment of political prisoners, made it impossible for the Mon woman to see her son again and she died before seeing her son released from prison.

Mi Chit Phwar, Ko Min Zay Yar's mother, died at age 76 years at 11 pm on May 27th, in Kamarwet Village, Mudon Township, Mon State.

Min Zay Yar, didn't know his mother passed away. The 53 year-old pro-democracy and human rights activist was imprisoned at Insein Prison in 2007, to more than 65 years, for illegal possession of an electronic device, illegally crossing the Burma border, illegal printing, connection with illegal organizations and destabilizing the country. He was sent to Lashio Prison in 2009.

“Before she died, she repeatedly asked ‘has my son, Zay Yar, come back?’ She would open her eyes and look for her son- but he was not there. Then, she would be tired after she repeatedly asked about her son. Finally, she died quietly on her bed," Mi Nwet Nwet Yee, Min Zay Yar’s sister, said in an interview with IMNA News.

Mi Chit Phwar and her husband Nai Ba Yin (deceased) had 5 sons and 3 daughters. Ko Min Zay Yar is the third child. He was born in Kamarwet Village, Mawlamyain District, Mon State. He studied at Kamarwet Village School from primary to ninth standard. Then, he moved to high school no. 2, in Insein, Yangon. He went to high school and worked as a car spare (assistant driver) in his free time.

He passed 10th standard in 1983 with distinction in history. Then he studied at Rangoon University, majoring in Law.

However, he was arrested before graduating as a student leader of protests in Rangoon, after engineering student, Ko Phone Maw, died in 1987. He was released in 1989.

He was arrested again in 2007, after the Saffron Revolution in Burma, when the military regime sentenced him again.

Family members of KO Min Zay Yar requested authorities to inform him about his mother’s death. However, they refused, according to his sister, Mi Nwet Mwet Yeer.

"My younger brother, Ko Aung Naing, called authorities at Lashio prison on the day our mother died (May 27). He requested authorities to permit Ko Min Zay Yar to attend the funeral but they replied, “We don’t do this for political prisoners," Mi Nwet Nwet Yee said.

Family members took video and photos of the funeral of their mother for Ko Min Zay Yar. Their mother’s ashes were buried in a tomb in Kamarwet Grave Yard, Mudon Township, Mon State.

"He could attend the funeral of our father when did he died in 2005, because he was not arrested. However, our brother could not attend his mother’s funeral. Our brother could not pray for his mother. That's why we built a tomb for her, so when he is released from prison, he can go to the grave yard and worship at the the tomb of our mother," she said, with tears.

Two military intelligence officers from Mudon Township and one from Yangon came to the funeral and took photos, as is their usual practice, according to Min Zay Yar's elder brother, Ko Maung Thein.

Many people sympathized with Ko Min Zay Yar, who could not attend the funeral of his mother. As well, these people were dissatisfied with the military regime’s treatment of him and his family.

Students from the 88 Generation group and his colleagues sent wreaths to the funeral and over 3,000 people, including Min Zay Yar's wife, Daw Cho Cho Win, fellow activists from pro-democracy forces, some politicians, relatives and friends attended the funeral service, according to a resident of Kamarwet village.


"On May 20, she was very sick but she requested us to send her to Lashio prison (to see her son) after she recovered. She also said she would live with KO Min Zay Yar after he was released. All her children promised to send her to Lashio prison. However, we already knew our mother would die soon. All of us were very upset,” Nai Aung Naing, younger brother of Min Zay Yar, said.

According to a senior member of Kyeik Zel pagoda committee, in Kamarwet village, Mi Chit Phwer said on the day the court sentenced her son, "My son was sentenced for a long term under unfair laws. My son and his colleagues will face many difficulties in prison. Their families will be very upset."

"If the new government didn't release us prisoners after 5 years, the next elected government will release us for sure. Please tell mother I am not guilty. Please remind her to think about the good things she has done,” Min Zay Yar said to his sister, Mi Nwet Nwet Yee, when she visited him in Lashio prison.

According to Mi Nwet Nwet Yee, her mother loved Ko Min Zay Yar very much. She worried about him since he was a student activist

Mi Chit Phwer’s wish to see her son before she died was not granted, however, she died loving her son whole-heartedly.