One of people who I consider a mentor is Robert Kennedy. Bobby was the voice for people who did not have a voice due to race, poverty, or being otherwise disenfranchised. In the 60s, he was the voice for anyone who needed help. He also was a mentor and leader for my generation of college students who wanted to change America.
When I was in Myanmar, I met what I consider the Bobby of Burma. His name was Paw Oo Tun. However, he renamed himself...Min Ko Naing. Two decades after Bobby Kennedy lead the liberals in America to a better country, Min Ko Naing lead the college generation the way Bobby did.
Interestingly, his leadership to improve the human rights issue in Myanmar resulted in him being beaten, tortured, and imprisoned. When I interviewed him I mentioned to him that he spent more time in prison than I spent in college, graduate school, and post graduate school.
Min Ko Naing, whose name means in Burmese conqueror of kings, will succeed not by becoming a king but by freeing his country from military rule. Min Ko Naing and I spent several hours together in which I interviewed him when I first arrived in Yangon. Several weeks later, I was invited to the 65th Independence Day luncheon where I met many of the old guard. It was an honor to chat with a dozen of these leaders. At the end of the luncheon, Min Ko Naing leaned close to me and asked when my wife and I were flying back to the States. I told him in about 6-hours. He paused and with a wry smile said, "Would you like to attend a protest rally down at Sule Pagoda." I was delighted. I had interviewed him, had a luncheon with him at the end of the tour, and now I was invited to a rally where the 88 Uprising took place a quarter of a century ago.
Again, the parallels between Bobby Kennedy and the civil rights movement and Min Ko Naing and their human rights movement came crashing into my psyche. I will never forget the protest rally, the people of Myanmar, and Min Ko Naing.