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Soe Myint’s death a great loss: NLD leaders

New Delhi (Mizzima) – NLD leader Soe Myint, a veteran freedom fighter, activist, politician and colleague of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, died in his sleep at home in Rangoon at about 1:30 p.m. today, a relative said.  

nld-soe-myint1The National League for Democracy central executive committee member and Rangoon Division president died of a suspected heart attack at his home in South Okkalapa Township. He was 87. 

“He died at 1:30 p.m. while he was sleeping at the home. We think he died because of a heart attack.” Khine Wint Yi, a granddaughter of Soe Myint told Mizzima. “A neighbour who is a doctor confirmed his death. He also suffered from asthma, had a weak heart, used to feel dizzy and fell down often, but he died peacefully.” 

Fellow party leaders lamented the death of Thakin Soe Myint saying it would leave a big gap in the opposition party. 

“The death of a well-experienced and reliable leader such as him is a great loss to our party”, NLD vice-chairman Tin Oo told Mizzima.  

At a time of struggle for the party following its decision no to re-register with the Election Commission (EC), the death of a man who has fought for Burma’s freedom since the anti-colonial struggles will have a great impact on our party, another fellow party leader,  Win Tin, said. 

“We need leaders with his expertise to perform and face the current political challenges surrounding not being a party registered with the EC,” Thakin Soe Myint’s colleague Win Tin said. “This is a great loss for us, him dying in this situation.” 

The NLD had 20 central executive committee members but now has only 15 as some top panel members have died or split from the party.  

The party which won a landslide victory in the 1990 general election refused to re-register with the EC in protest at “unfair” electoral laws enacted by the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), the name the junta calls itself. After that, dissident NLD leaders who had rejected the decision established a breakaway party called the National Democratic Force (NDF).  

Remaining NLD party top panel members are Aung Shwe (Chairman), Tin Oo (Vice-Chairman), Aung San Suu Kyi (General Secretary), U Lwin (Secretary) and members Win Tin, Nyan Win, Lun Tin, Ohn Kyaing, Dr. May Win Myint, Han Thar Myint, Win Myint, Nyunt Wei, Than Tun, Hla Pe and Tun Tun Hein.  

Soe Myint, also known as Thakhin Soe Myint, was born on August 16, 1923 to U Shein and was educated to grade six at Myaungmya High School in Irrawaddy Division. 

His entry into activism came as secretary of the Myaungmya Township branch of the  Dobama Asiayone (We Burmans Association), a pro-independence and originally pro-Japanese, Burmese organisation led by Ba Sein. It was established in 1930 in Rangoon, after Indian dock workers and their families were murdered by locals who believed the Indians had taken their jobs. 

He served as a commanding officer in the Burma Defence Army (BDA), created by the Japanese in 1942 as a successor to the Burma Independence Army. In August 1943, Burma was granted nominal independence by Japan but Soe Myint became one of the many swayed against the Japanese because of their torture and oppression to form a temporary alliance with the British. 

Soe Myint was a member of the Delta military Committee in Pathein District for the Burma National Army, which openly declared war on the Japanese in March 1945, and, as the Patriotic Burmese Forces, co-operated with the British in driving the Japanese out of southern Burma. 

His other affiliations included being a founding member of the People’s Revolutionary Party, the chairman of Myaungmya District Socialist Party, a central committee member of the Anti-Fascist People’s Freedom League, a central executive committee member of the Burmese Farmer’s Association, a central committee member of the Socialist Party and a vice-chairman of the People’s Youth League. 

In 1953, he was Burma’s delegate to the Vienna Youth Convention and was also awarded the Independence Struggle Medal (Grade 1) for his role as a Burmese independence fighter. 

Later he became a leader of the Central Farmer’s League and a chairman of the campaign committee for the Rangoon Division of the NLD. He became a member of the NLD’s reformed central executive committee on March 26, 1991. 

The editor and writer was arrested temporarily in 1993 because he included in a report a three-part action plan for what to do if the junta refused to convene the parliament of people elected in the 1990 polls in accordance with the NLD’s Gandhi Hall decision.

He became a member of the Committee Representing the People’s Parliament (CRPP), formed on September 16, 1998 after the SPDC had failed to respond to renewed calls to recognise the results of the 1990 elections. 

After the “Depayin Massacre” on May 30, 2003, he was placed under house arrest, and was freed on November 23, 2003. 

The NLD member of parliament for South Okkalapa Constituency 1 is survived by his wife Aye Kywe, his children Swe Swe Myint, Maung Maung Myint, Thit Thit Myint, Cho Cho Myint, Thin Thin Myint and 11 grandchildren.

Last Updated ( Thursday, 20 May 2010 23:39 )  

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