A senior party member of Myanmar’s National League for Democracy has died of a heart attack less than two months after being freed from a nine-month detention, according to family members and friends.
Monywa Aung Shin, 77, had been held since Feb. 1, the day that Myanmar’s military overthrew the civilian-led NLD government in a coup. He was released on Oct. 18.
Hospitalized for a heart ailment from Nov. 21 to 24, Monywa Aung Shin died of heart failure on his front porch four days later, his wife Kay Thwe Moe told RFA on Tuesday.
“He got up at about 5:30 a.m. and went out onto the veranda as usual to wait for the daily newspapers when he had a sudden heart attack and collapsed. He didn’t recover,” Kay Thwe Moe said.
As a member of the NLD’s Information Committee, Monywa Aung Shin had also served as a spokesman for the party.
Journalist Nathan Maung, a former editor-in-chief of the Kamayut Media news group who was briefly held in cell next to Monywa Aung Shin, said he was well known and respected for his personal integrity and loyalty to the NLD.
“We were separated by a single wall, and he called out to me and knocked on the door between our two rooms about 10 minutes after I arrived,” Nathan Maung said.
The two men then introduced themselves to each other, and Monywa Aung Shin said that he missed his family and home and hoped he would soon be released, as he was not a cabinet minister or other top figure in the deposed NLD government, Nathan Maung said.
“He was shocked to learn I had been tortured, and I was able to talk with him only briefly a few times, but I found him very friendly and respectful despite the differences in our age,” he said.
Having already served more than 15 years in prison for his political activities since 1988, Monywa Aung Shin was also a poet and was widely respected by all members of the NLD, said Bo Bo Oo, a former member of parliament from Myanmar’s Yangon region.
“He had worked hard for democracy to take root in the country, and he was a literary icon who had focused on moving Myanmar along the correct political path for the country’s development,” Bo Bo Oo said. “He really did so much.”
“This is a big loss for the country, as he had worked so hard and with so much good will,” he said.
Monywa Aung Shin had lived for only 40 days after his release from detention, and spoke openly about the Feb. 1 military coup that ended civilian rule in Myanmar, Kay Thwe Moe said.
“He was really devastated to see how different things were before he was detained and then after his release. This caused him terrible mental stress,” she said. “He really was a peaceful person, and he was so frustrated that he couldn’t do anything to help.”
“He wanted to see people working together and sharing responsibilities for the good of the country,” she said.
Friendship and respect
Ye Htut, a cabinet minister in Myanmar’s Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP)-led government from 2014 to 2016, said that he and Monywa Aung Shin had shared friendship and respect in spite of the differences in their political views.
“We met only once after he was released on Oct. 18, and we talked about the country’s politics for a long time. As far as I can recall, that was the only time that we saw things almost eye-to-eye,” he said.
“Though our friendship was brief, it was long enough for me to see that he was an honest and righteous politician.”
Myanmar’s military overthrew the democratically elected government of Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi’s NLD on Feb. 1, saying voter fraud had led to the party’s landslide victory in the country’s November 2020 election.
The junta has yet to provide evidence for its claims and has violently suppressed nationwide protests calling for a return to civilian rule, killing 1,299 people and arresting 7,640 over the last nine months, according to the Bangkok-based Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP-Burma).
Reported by RFA’ Myanmar Service. Translated by Kyaw Min Htun. Written in English by Richard Finney.