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NLD Member Reported Arrested Over Symbolic Hat - 2002-11-25


U Shwe Maung of the National League for Democracy party from Mandalay was arrested on 7 November for making a hat, or khamauk, which was to be sent to opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi. Travelers from Mandalay, who asked not to be identified, reported the arrest.

The hat, known as 'khamauk' in Burmese, is a symbol of the National League for Democracy (NLD) party. NLD won a landslide general election victory in 1990, but Burmese military rulers never allowed the winning candidates to take office.

U Shwe Maung and other party activists from the Mandalay suburb of Htun Done were making a khamauk out of copper with gold plating as a gift of support for party leader Suu Kyi.

According to an NLD party official in charge of transportation, plans were made to take the khamauk from Mandalay to Rangoon on a three-night journey by car stopping at Meikttila, Toungoo and Pegu on the way.

Shortly before his arrest, Shwe Maung said the symbolic hat was meant to remind people that the NLD won the 1990 general election and to exhort the military to transfer power to the party.

Despite Shwe Maung's arrest, other party members vowed to continue the project. U Par Par Lay, a famous Burmese comedian arrested in early 1996 for performing at an Independendence Day celebration hosted by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi said that he and other activisits, ”are committed to sending the khamauk to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi as a signal that people from Mandalay remain committed to the cause of Democracy.”

U Par Par Lay was released from prison last year.

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