Before we went to jail – for being an NLD member [the main Burmese opposition party, the National League for Democracy (NLD)], we were under surveillance. We were ever threatened by the authorities. As one of the examples, I’d like to show you is – I don’t have my own apartment so I need to rent from the landlord. Every year I sign the contracts. But when the authorities found out that I’m going to rent the apartment from the landlord so they pressured the landlord not to lend me because I’m an NLD member. There would be many problems. Your house will be sealed off or something like that.
They gave much pressure. And these pressures, we were trying to survive ourselves. And in 2000, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi planned to go to Mandalay [Burma’s second largest city], so we know very well that this plan was not successful, but as one of the action of the nonviolence – how can I say – political actions that we like to create such kind of movement. So I organized some of the events to be successful in her trip. So they found out that; they arrested one of my colleagues. He was going ahead to plan for the trip. So he got arrested outside of Yangon [former Burmese capital also known as Rangoon]. And he found out – the authorities found out that there was a – names and phone numbers of me. He would contact me and through I would contact The Lady [Aung San Suu Kyi’s nickname], like that. So when the authorities found out like that, they liked me to get – at the night before I got arrested.
But luckily, at that night I didn’t stay at my house at that night. I sleep at my friend’s house so I escaped. They came to arrest me at my house at midnight. But luckily, I escaped at that time. But the next day, in the afternoon, about 40 young people went to the Yangon railway station to greet our leader (Aung San Suu Kyi) to say goodbye, so we – at that time, we were standing on the pavement on the Yangon railway station. So the authorities and the military intelligence came and – with a truck. And they arrested all of us – all of the members and put into the – in Insein prison [a prison notorious for its dirty conditions and use of mental and physical torture].
So this is why they arrested us. And again, and why firstly they sent me to the interrogation camp for five days, nonstop investigations without having a rest and without sleeping. But they gave me some food to eat and they closed my eyes with a cloth [blindfold]. And even though – if I wanted to go to the restroom, they closed my eyes and they helped me to get to the restroom, like that. After five days’ interrogation, I was sent again to the Insein prison. And I spent four months in Insein prison at that time. At that time, we were in a – how you can say that – in a dark age. There was no significant civil society at that moment. We were not allowed to set up the civil society at that moment. So everyone was afraid of military intelligence.
So even our close relatives, they didn’t dare to contact me because, you know, being engaged in politics is like a cause or something like that. They always stayed away from us. So it’s – because, you know, the regime also threatened and gave some of the lessons not to help the activists, so that’s why more and more people were afraid of being engaged with a political activists and human rights activists.
There’s no way that – although we are – by myself, I was never afraid of the authorities or if they – when I decided to join NLD [the main Burmese opposition party, the National League for Democracy (NLD)], I decided myself that at least I shall go in jail or I shall die, there’s two ways, because, you know, being an NLD member or being an activist is very, you know – very risky things at that moment. There is two, just only two ways: go to jail or die, shot by the military, there’s two ways. That’s why I made up my mind that – to prepare for the worst and try – hope for the best.