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U Ko Ni

HRD, Lawyer and Adviser
Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD)

U Ko Ni was a human rights lawyer and a legal adviser of the National League for Democracy. He participated in pro-democracy protests known as the 8888 Uprising and was a former political prisoner. He was actively involved in the interfaith peace movement and advocated for the rights of Muslim citizens in Myanmar. He strongly opposed the country’s race and religion protection bill in August 2015, whichc created restriction on interfaith marriage and also fueled anti-Muslim sentiments. In 2016, he help founded Myanmar Muslim Lawyers Association. He has also written six books on good governance and various human rights issues.

Political reforms introduced in 2011 brought the release of more than 1000 political prisoners, including many human rights defenders. Today, many formerly imprisoned HRDs face a number of restrictions to their work and risk future persecution. Student activists were not allowed to return to study at their universities, and the Ministry of Home Affairs has refused to issue passports to former political prisoners and prominent HRDs.

The National Human Rights Commission established in 2011, but is largely criticized for being ineffective and refusing to investigate violations in ethnic minority areas. 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.