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Twisted fate of brothers from tragedy in Myanmar

Posted May. 27, 2021 07:27,   

Updated May. 27, 2021 07:27


A coup in Myanmar has produced not only a lot of victims but also a tragedy for brothers. The younger brother who had been engaged in a fight for democracy for a long time was taken by the military and killed, while the older brother who led the bloody suppression of protestors as part of the military was promoted as chief of police after the coup.

Local media The Irrawaddy reported on Tuesday that Soe Moe Hlaing who was put in jail for 13 years for being part of a democracy protest died on Monday. He was arrested Saturday in Zaung Tu village in Bago Region along with a few other villagers after a regime informant told troops about their whereabouts. A source said that he was violently beaten over the head with rifle butts at the time of his arrest.

On Monday, his wife was informed via a telephone call that he was dead. The family confirmed Soe Moe Hlaing’s face after his body was placed inside a coffin at a military hospital in Yangon. His friends believed that the activist was tortured to death for his strong political beliefs against the military regime. He was married and is survived by five children.

Soe Moe Hlaing was part of the so-called “88 generation” who led anti-autocracy protests for democracy in Myanmar in 1988. He was also involved in the All Burma Students’ Democratic Front (ABSDF), which was the first students’ army formed to oppose the then-regime in 1988. After being arrested for demanding the release of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, he spent 13 years in jail. After his release, Soe Moe Hlaing actively worked for regional development, free education for children, and residents' well-being in Bago.

Meanwhile, his older brother and key military figure Lt-Gen Than Hlaing is living a completely different life. He is considered one of the key people responsible for the torture, killing, arrest, and detention of civilians. Myanmar’s military regime newly created a deputy minister position at the Home Affairs Ministry, which oversees all “special branches” in charge of the police and intelligence after staging a coup on February 1. Lt-Gen Than Hlaing was promoted to the position and chief of police.

Jong-Yeob JO jjj@donga.com