Linn Thant

* 1969

  • „I was released in 2008 July 9th from that prison. But in Burma many of the political prisoners on that day of their release date, many of my friends, they weren’t released. They were detained as temporarily extension. But I was lucky that I was released. I don't know why. But I was so happy and sad. For me I was happy. But for my colleagues I wasn’t happy. Because on that day, I remember, my friends they were starting at me, they were so happy for me, but they cried. Because when I was in prison I helped my colleagues very much, especially with the survival and food. I always tried to get food for them, not only food, but also a teaching, knowledge. They felt, that when they stay with me they are more save and more convenient. Without me, it will be more difficult to survive in prison. They confessed, they told me. I was so sad for that words. After I was released even my family members they didn’t believe it. Only my sister she came and she walk at the gate of the prison. But I was released on that day. But special agents the military intelligence plain clothes they followed me from the gate of the prison to my home. Daily, morning to night, at night eleven o'clock, midnight, they knock on the door. ‚Are you here or not?’ they always asked me that. ‚Yes, I am here. Why? You can come, sit down in my guest room.’ They sit down in my guest room sometimes. They always tried to make me nervous. They always tried to chase me. They always followed me, whatever I did, they always recorded it and were taking some films or something like that.“

  • „In 1989 I was arrested and I was illegally detained. And then in 1990 May 25th, I didn’t get any chance to have lawyers, I didn’t get any chance for the public execution or something like that, no open code, very closely secret code. They sentenced me death sentence. And on that day, I was in jail. But I thought that: ‚Oh. Death sentence. I failed. In something It is good for me. Because the people, we all are mortal. We don’t know when we will be dead. But for me I was lucky. I will know when I will be dead. They will hang me.’ I was happy. I shared that feelings with others and other people stared at me. And they looked at me somehow strangely, why I was happy. Many people including my family members they were so sad. My mum, she was crying again, again. But I didn’t know it. I didn’t get any family visit during a detention period. I didn’t have any contact with others. I was very isolated. And then, I was in the death room in prison. I couldn’t see the moon and the sun for nine years. And I was in iron chains, chained for seven years. I couldn’t get any contact with others. I was getting only the food. But their food was really bad.“

  • „I went to Burma secretly as a member of ABSDF (All Burma Student’s Democratic Front) and I tried to contact a legal opposition party, National League for Democracy and other activist groups. But at that time, they were underground movement activists, they were not legal. But the only legal thing was the National League for Democracy. I tried to contact them all and I shared our information to others. One of the meetings, the last one and I thought I was safe. But unfortunately, I came into my base, my lounge. And at the gate of my uncle's house, several cars approached me and at least three or four dozen of the plain clothes people they tried to punch me out and kick me out and tried to arrest me. They pointed gun at my head. And I was arrested on that day. And I was tortured a lot. I lost teeth. These are not my teeth, most of these are fake. They tortured me a lot. This bone was broken, this was broken, this was broken. But they arrested me and I was detained illegally for days and weeks. And I didn’t get any food maybe two or three days. And I was without clothes in the very cold and they put some rats and some insect and some snakes in my room. They tortured me. They tried to make me confess, that I did wrong, I did mistake. But they wanted that words only. If they got that words that would mean I betrayed myself. I must be real to myself, I must respect myself. I believe that whatever I did, it was not wrong. It was for the people, not for me only, for the country.“

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    Praha, 24.11.2018

    duration: 02:02:14
    media recorded in project Stories of the 20th Century TV
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Never give up, be strong

The witness Linn Thant - a photo of that time
The witness Linn Thant - a photo of that time
photo: archive of the witness

Linn Thant was born on March 14, 1969 in Meiktila, Central Burma. He grew up in a country destroyed by civil war under the military rule. His British grandfather taught him about Christian culture and his father taught him politics. Already at the age of sixteen, he studied civil engineering at a university and at the same time taught students of the same age. During the national protests in 1988, he became one of the leaders of the student organization. He was hiding after the military coup took place, but he was arrested, imprisoned and tortured at a military intelligence base a year later. In a closed trial on May 25, 1990, three military officers sentenced him to death. In the Insein prison he waited three years for the execution until his sentence was changed to twenty years in prison. He was imprisoned in a small cell without daylight, chained in complete isolation until 1997, when he was transferred to another prison. He was released on July 9, 2008. He went to Thailand, where he worked as a journalist in exile media. In 2011, he participated in the Forum 2000 conference at the invitation of Václav Havel. He received asylum from the Czech Republic and continued to live in Thailand before a coup d’état took place there in 2014. He moved to Prague, where he currently lives, makes a living as a teacher and publishes in Deník Referendum. He sees education as a path to political change in Burma, so during his studies, in prison and after his release, he devoted himself to teaching and tried to pass on his life experiences.