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Burmese Hat Maker Rapped with Jail Term - 2002-12-24


U Shwe Maung of the National League for Democracy party from Htun Done Quarters, Mandalay was arrested on Nov. 7 for making the golden hat (copper molded) or Shwe khamauk.

The hat was to be delivered to Burmese Democracy leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi in Rangoon.

However, the plan was postponed to Jan. 4 2003, Burma’s 55th Independence Day.

One of the coordinators of the event said, “We’ll be wearing the traditional Kachin or Burmese sarongs, white shirts and Pini jackets, which is the formal attire of the National League For Democracy. The Shwe Khamauk is symbolic of NLD's landslide victory of the 1990 elections and we’re taking it to Rangoon. I hope no one will try to stop our peaceful march.”

Meanwhile, a VOA Burmese stringer conducted an in-depth interview with U Shwe Maung’s wife, who was in Rangoon to be near her husband. U Shwe Maung was initially arrested under Emergency Security Act 5-Nya, but later charged under penal code 380/411 for accepting stolen goods and sentenced without trial to 3 years imprisonment.

According to his wife, Daw Thein Thein Win, who cried when she met her husband on a prison visit, “ My husband said, don’t cry…the only thing I did is to mold the golden hat with copper and to feed the people twice with boiled rice. We haven’t committed any crime. We acted because of our conscience for the sake of our country.”

Thein Thein Win, who recently underwent stomach surgery, was grief stricken at the thought of her husband being mistreated inside the prison.

She said, “I have two young children. The elder is in fifth grade and can understand what is happening to her father but the younger daughter is only three. She’s too young to understand and has been crying every night, asking for her father.”

Thein Thein Win said, “I’m proud of my husband. He’s sacrificed for his country. I wish all political prisoners a safe future.”

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