Monday, 18 November 2019

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Freedom fighter and mentor to Suu Kyi dies at 93

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – Freedom fighter and leftist, Ohn Myint, a close colleague of Aung San and his family who took part in political activism behind the scenes for about 80 years, died early yesterday at home in Rangoon.

ohn_myintThe man who was close to independence hero General Aung San, his wife Khin Kyi and who played the part of early mentor to his daughter Aung San Suu Kyi, passed away at 4:30 a.m. at his residence in Suniyam Park, Yankin.

Ohn Myint maintained the alertness and agility of a young person, met and assisted all political activists until his death and served as vice-chairman of the National League for Democracy (NLD) party social aid group also for many years.

“He had worked for political movements all his life for the sake of a peaceful and united country. My dad also carried out social work for his entire life. He was devoted to his family and politics,” Ohn Myint’s son Htay Aung said.

Ohn Myint was born to a Sino-Burmese family in Letpadan, about 88 miles (140 kilometres) east of, on April 21, 1918, and joined the Dobama Asiayone as a 15-year-old student to start his political life.

He worked as journalist on Kyipwayay magazine, Totetyay daily and New Light of Myanmar. He then published Journal Gyaw with his mentor Chit Maung and wrote articles for it. He published leftist literature by leading the Yankyaw journal and the Kyaw Lin publishing house following the Second World War. There he published writer Thein Pe Myint’s celebrated novel, Like the Sun Rises in the East, in 1958.

When General Ne Win took power in the coup of 1958, he was detained in the Indian Ocean’s Coco Islands along with many other above-ground leftist politicians on charges under the Public Order Protection Act.

He energetically guided Aung San Sui Kyi in her debut to the pro-democracy movement during the height of the 1988 mass uprising. For this, he was detained in July 1989 after the State Law and Order Restoration Council (Slorc) took power in a coup. He spent three and half years in jail.

As one of Aung San’s closest followers, Ohn Myint wrote articles, one titled As I Know About Him on the life of the general from his student days until his death. He was also interviewed for the Who Killed Aung San? documentary film produced by the BBC in 1997. Late in his political life, he wrote articles and met young activists to bridge the generation gap in the political movement.

He wrote Taste of Prison with co-authors; Than Tun, Tin Mya, Myo Nyunt and Aye Kyu.

“The persons who were released from prisons [in this book] told us not to be scared of prison, how they chanted slogans inside the prison, how they revolted against the imperialist dictator. I remembered this book when I was released from prison,” NLD central executive committee member Win Tin, who spent nearly 20 years in prison, said.

“He was always energetic in political movements behind the scenes. He never referred to himself as a politician but devoted his life to social work based on political action until his death. We must follow his example,” Win Tin added.

The military regime sentenced Ohn Myint to prison at the age of 80 and he again spent three and half years behind bars. He had been arrested along with other former student leaders such as Dr. Maung Maung Kyaw, for assisting Aung Tun in compiling a history of the Burmese student movement.

He is survived by a total of four sons and daughters and will be cremated at Yayway Cemetery in Rangoon tomorrow at 4 p.m.


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