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Nilar Thein

Nilar Thein

Homo Homini Award

When the government itself is the abuser of human rights and the perpetrator of rape and other forms of gender-based violence, who will protect the victims? Who will end their tragedy? Who will secure the joyful reunion of mothers with their children?

Nilar Thein is a Burmese human rights defender and pro-democracy activist leader. In 1988 Nilar and her future husband, Mr Kyaw Min Yu, participated in the pro-democracy protests known as the 8888 Uprising. In 1990 she was imprisoned for two months for her role during the protests. She was arrested again in 1996 and sentenced to ten years in prison. While in detention, she reported being harassed and sexually abused by the prison guards. In 2005 Nilar was released and she joined the '88 Generation Students group. Following the mass protests in August and September 2007 – known as the Saffron Revolution - her husband was arrested and Nilar remained in hiding for over a year. In September 2008, Nilar was arrested on her way to visit the mother of another political prisoner, Ant Bwe Kyaw, and she was held at Thayet prison for more than three years. Nilar and her husband were released on 13 January 2012, in a mass presidential pardon of political prisoners. On 24 February 2016, she was once more arrested by police at the headquarters of the 88 Generation Peace and Open Society Group, for supporting student protests against the controversial education bill in 2015.


Burma's new law on freedom of assembly, falls short of international human rights standards, requiring protestors to seek permission to demonstrate five days in advance and submit their slogans for state approval. If the protesters deliver speeches which are viewed as damaging the state by “doing anything to causes fear or disturbance”, they can face criminal charges and six months imprisonment.