|Kyi Lin, center, the gunman who shot a prominent Muslim lawyer who was a close adviser of Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi, is escorted by police at Yangon Northern District Court in Yangon, Friday, Feb. 15, 2019 (AP).|
Friday, February 15, 2019
1984: Troubles continue in Burma
Associated Press (ap.org); Andrew Win, Crystal Q. (eds.), Wisdom Quarterly
George Orwell, who wrote Nineteen Eighty-Four, was talking about England and Burma, then under British rule as part of India, and the troubles and police state he described are still going strong. Of course, the book best describes life in the USA as a surveillance state somewhat akin to Huxley's Brave New World.
Court sentences 2 to death for killing Suu Kyi aide
RANGOON, Burma - A court in Burma (a.k.a. Myanmar) on Friday sentenced two men to death for the [assassination] of a prominent Muslim lawyer who was a close adviser to the country's top leader, Aung San Suu Kyi.
The Yangon (Rangoon) Northern District Court found the gunman, Kyi Lin, guilty of premeditated murder and illegal weapons possession for the Jan. 29, 2017 shooting of Ko Ni in broad daylight at Yangon airport. An accomplice involved in planning the killing was also sentenced to death, and two other men involved in the crime received prison sentences.
A fifth suspect thought to be the crime's mastermind remains at large. Ko Ni was shot in the head at close range on Jan. 29, 2017, as he walked out of the airport after returning from a working trip to Indonesia. Closed-circuit television footage showed he was shot near a taxi stand as he held his 5-year-old grandchild.
Onlookers chased down the gunman, catching him only after he also shot dead a taxi driver who was one of his pursuers. An ex-convict previously imprisoned for illegally trading in antiquities such as sculptures of Buddha, Kyi Lin also received a 20-year sentence for killing the taxi driver.
The death penalty in Myanmar is carried out by hanging but no executions appear to have been carried out since 1988. Many prisoners on death row have had their sentences commuted. The failure to apprehend the crime's alleged mastermind left many questions about the motivation for the killing, especially with the defendants offering contradictory testimony.
Speculation about the reasons Ko Ni was targeted focused on two possibilities. Ko Ni was noted for criticizing army interference in politics and advised Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy on ways to get around articles in the army-imposed constitution that give the military wide powers even after Myanmar's transition to democracy. Her party got around a ban on her becoming president by simply creating a new executive post, state counsellor, with presidential powers.
The fact that two of the defendants are former army officers fueled theories that the military was involved with the crime, an accusation it denies. As a prominent advocate for the Muslim minority in overwhelmingly Buddhist Myanmar, Ko Ni was also a target of abuse from ultra-nationalist Buddhist monks and their allies, some of whom publicly gloated after his death.
Burma has been gripped by anti-Muslim sentiment in recent years after deadly communal violence in the western state of Rakhine, home to many Muslims from the Rohingya ethnic minority. More