Veteran Myanmar activist with brother in military dead, report says

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May 26 (UPI) — A pro-democracy activist in Myanmar with a history of protesting military regimes since 1988 has died after torture, according to a local press report.

Ko Soe Moe Hlaing, 53, who also went by the name Ko Mae Gyi, was arrested Saturday in Zaung Tu village in the Bago Region with others, The Irrawaddy reported Tuesday.

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Ko Mae Gyi was battered in the head with rifle butts while in custody. On Monday his wife was informed he had died. His family was only permitted to see his face after his body was placed in a coffin at Mingaladon military hospital in Yangon. The funeral took place Tuesday evening, according to the report.

Ko Mae Gyi is the brother of Lieutenant-General Than Hlaing. Than Hlaing was promoted to deputy minister and chief of police after the coup, the report said.

The activist took part in the All Burma Students’ Democratic Front, founded in November 1988 after the pro-democracy 8888 protests in Yangon. The movement sought the release of Aung San Suu Kyi who was under house arrest at the time.

The activist and his brother opted to take different paths in life. It is unclear whether Than Hlaing attended the funeral Tuesday.

“Despite coming from a family with military background, he did everything he could throughout his life for the country’s democracy, from taking part in protest movements to joining the student army,” a former inmate who knew Ko Mae Gyi said, according to The Irrawaddy.

The coup has ruptured daily life in Myanmar and civilians could be feeling unsafe even if they do not take part in the protests.

Myanmar Now reported Wednesday about 90% of students have declined to enroll in Myanmar’s schools or return to classrooms, citing information from members of the Myanmar Teachers’ Federation.

Enrollment numbers show fewer than 1 million students are registered to return to school on June 1, according to the report.

“If schools open now, we won’t be able to teach anything meaningfully. Children won’t feel safe,” one local teacher said, according to the report.