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Letter: Two years after Myanmar coup, solidarity for Bo Bo Nge

To the editor: Two years ago, the Myanmar military seized the reins of power from Aung San Suu Kyi's democratically elected national government and proceeded to brutally murder its citizens and burn down its villages.

The military reacted to a countrywide protest of its coup by imprisoning, torturing, raping and killing officials of Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy, as well as thousands of ordinary people who rose up against them.

Among those still imprisoned is Bo Bo Nge, who had served more than four years in prison after helping to lead a protest against military rule in 1988. Now, having served as a deputy commissioner in the Central Bank of Myanmar prior to the coup, he is once again in prison, sentenced to 20 years for alleged corruption — the military's term for the proper handling of the government's revenue.

Corruption has been common practice among the military regimes that have governed the country since 1962, when after brief post-colonial democratic rule the military took power and didn't return it to democratically elected hands until 2015 when to their surprise Aung San Suu Kyi's party won an overwhelming election victory.

Bo Bo Nge came to the United States by invitation of Ba Win, provost of Simon's Rock College of Bard in Great Barrington. Nge attended Berkshire Community College while working as a dishwasher in local restaurants. He then earned a bachelor's degree from Bard College, a master's from Johns Hopkins University and finally a doctorate in finance from the University of London.

Wherever he worked, including American Investment Services in Great Barrington, Nge was admired and enjoyed. His supervising professor in London described him as "brilliant." Now he is behind bars, probably for the rest of his life, unless the military can be routed from government in Myanmar.

The chances are iffy. On the one hand, without the support of the people, the regime is fighting a tough battle. On the other, it has the support of Russia and other countries who are supplying weapons and other support.

For most of the people of Myanmar, and of course most especially for Bo Bo Nge and other prisoners, freedom to pursue their lives in peace will not come until the Tatmadaw, as the military is called, is defeated and a democratically elected government can succeed once again to power. Let's hope that is so.

Abby Pratt, Housatonic

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