About the Authors and Interviewees (Volume 3, 2023)

Boe Thein a.k.a. Dr. Min Thein was the vice chairperson of the All Burma Federation of Student Unions from 1960-1961. He was arrested in 1962 for his role in the 7 July Student Uprising and released in 1963. He received Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery degrees in 1964. From 2014 he actively participated in the National Network for Education Reform, demanding reform of the controversial National Education Law. He has written many books on medicine, the history of student movements in Myanmar, and educational reform.

Lay Lay Mon was born in Yangon in 1978 and was one of the student leaders during the student protest at Dagon University on 9 December 1996. She was arrested twice and spent a total of 12 years as a political prisoner in four different prisons. Lay Lay Mon worked for the Democratic Voice of Burma for six years and wrote for Teen Magazine, edited by Ma Thida, for over a year. As a veteran student activist, she stands against the 2021 coup.

Phyoe Phyoe Aung a.k.a. Hnin Pwint Wai was born in 1988 and is the daughter of former political prisoner Dr. Nay Win. She played a significant role in reorganizing the All Burma Federation of Student Unions (ABFSU) during the Saffron Revolution in 2007. She went into hiding until being arrested in 2008 while in Ayeyarwady Division helping victims of Cyclone Nargis. After her release from prison in 2012, Phyoe Phyoe Aung became the general secretary of the ABFSU. She was arrested again during the crackdown on students’ protests against the National Education Law in 2015 and spent another year in prison. She received the Citizen of Burma Award in 2015 and the International Women of Courage Award in 2021.

Sai Kyaw Nyunt is an ethnic Shan politician and former student activist. He started studying at the Yangon Institute of Technology in 1995 and was a student leader in the 1996 student uprising. He was detained and sentenced to seven years’ prison for his role in the protests and released in 2002. In 2013, he became a director of the Myanmar Institute for Democracy, founded by 1996-1998 generation student activists. He later joined the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy (SNLD). When the National League for Democracy government started organizing a series of Union Peace Conferences in 2016, he worked as one of the Union Peace Dialogue Joint Committee’s secretaries, representing political parties. He was elected as Joint Secretary No. 1 at the SNLD’s congress in June 2022.

Tin Aye Kyu was a prominent student leader in the 1976 centenary of the Thakin Ko Daw Hmaing uprising and was sentenced to nine years imprisonment for his role. After his release as part of an amnesty in 1980 he joined the Burma Communist Party. After the 1988 uprising, he worked as the general secretary of the upper Myanmar-based Coalition of National Political Front until it was crushed by the military junta in 1989 and he was imprisoned again, this time until 2005. He died in 2022. He was a prolific writer and political commentator as “Maung Hmine Lwin (Innwa)”.

Zay Yah Oo is a Fulbright alumnus with a master’s degree in political science from the University of Louisville, USA. He has been a member of the National League for Democracy Central Research Working Committee since 2014. He worked as a political consultant for Pandita Development Institute and with stakeholders on civic education, federalism, and constitutional issues. He is a former political prisoner and student leader from the Military Technological College, Pyin Oo Lwin. An uprising there in 2002 led to the college being permanently shut down.

Hla Shwe was born in Bogale Township and was active in student movements from 1953 on. He was elected as the General Secretary of the All Burma Federation of Student Unions at the sixth congress and played crucial roles, such as editor of Oway magazine, taking charge of publicity, and leading the 7 July Student Uprising in 1962. He fought for the Burma Communist Party for approximately nine years. After the 1988 uprising, he co-founded the People’s Progressive Party and became its General Secretary. In addition, he wrote several political commentaries as “Aung Tha (PPP)”. In total, he spent almost two decades in various prisons for his political activities. Hla Shwe passed away on 15 July 2021 due to lack of oxygen, just one of many to die during a wave of the COVID-19 Delta variant. The public were prevented by the military and police from accessing life-saving oxygen and hospital facilities.

Soe Htun was a student leader during the 1996 student uprising. He was sentenced to seven years imprisonment in 1997 and was released from Thayarwaddy Prison in 2004. He co-founded the 88 Generation Student Group with Min Ko Naing, Min Zeya, Ko Ko Gyi, and Htay Kywe. In 2012, he founded iSchool-Myanmar to strengthen civil society and contribute to capacity-building activities for an all-inclusive peace process. He was active in the National Network for Education Reform from 2012 to 2021 and founded Nyan News Media in 2019. He also co-founded the Healthcare Center for Political Prisoners in 2018.

Min Han Htet is a prominent student leader of the ongoing 2021 Spring Revolution. Born in 1999, he was studying Philosophy at Dagon University and has been active in the Dagon University Student Union since 2018, being elected chairperson in 2020. He was a founder, and the spokesperson, of the Coalition of Yangon-Based University Student Unions after the 1 February 2021 coup. Because of his political activities, the military junta took control of his family’s assets, including forcibly confiscating their house.

The Virtual Federal University Research Program was envisioned by Myanmar students taking part in the democracy movement and is a free education platform and community committed to critical education for federal democracy in Myanmar. It supports students to design and conduct research that aims to understand urgent social and political challenges and inform practical solutions for a safe and equitable future.