Myanmar is in probable lockdown following the deadly shooting and killing of a prominent legal adviser for Myanmar’s ruling National League for Democracy, or NLD.
The lawyer, Ko Ni who is a Muslim was shot in the head at the close range as he walked out of the Yangon airport, the Government says. The killing has sparked widespread condemnation and Amnesty International says the killing has hallmarks of a political assassination. The nation’s Ministry of Information in a video posted on state-run MRTV said the assassin has been arrested. An AP news report said he also attempted to shoot at a taxi driver who tried to stop him from fleeing.
“As I stopped my car by the airport, that’s where I saw Ko Ni’s body lying on the walkway outside of the airport and I couldn’t believe that just happened,” said Thet Paing Soe, a friend and an NLD supporter. “Then as the shooter tried to run away, the police arrested him.”
The Ministry of Information identified the suspect as Kyi Linn from Mandalay. The motive was not known. Kyee Myint, a former chairman of the Myanmar Lawyer Network who has a close relationship with Ko Ni, also confirmed his death. “It is a big loss for us that Ko Ni, our beloved friend, has been killed,” he said.
Ko Ni was one of the country’s most prominent Burmese Muslims. He criticised the NLD in 2015 for not putting up Muslim candidates in the general election.
Myanmar is a mainly Buddhist country. Anti-Muslim sentiments have been simmering for years in the nation with the nation’s Muslims known as Rohingya specially targetted for violence of every kind including murder, rape and arson. The Rohingya are mainly located in the Rakhine state.
Amnesty International meanwhile, has called for an independent investigation.
“His death will send shockwaves across the human rights community in the country and beyond, and the authorities must send a clear message that such violence will not be tolerated and will not go unpunished,” said a statement from Josef Benedict, Amnesty’s regional deputy campaigns director.
The group called Ko Ni a tireless human rights campaigner and expressed condolences to his family.
Myanmar has seen unending sectarian violence since the ascension to power of Aung San Suu Kyii to power in 2015. The Nobel laureate has been soundly and roundly thrashed for her inability and refusal to help fend off the sufferings of the largely, Muslim Rohingya community in her country.
The British Broadcasting Corporatioon (BBC) meanwhile, said thousands had filed past Ko Ni’s casket including Christians and Muslims. The BBC report quoted US ambassador Scot Marciel as saying, “I knew Ko Ni and his commitment to his country and democracy”.
The report also gave details of the assassin as a 53-year ex-convict who enjoyed a presidential pardon in 2014 for dealing illegally in Buddha’s heads and antiquities.
The BBC also said plans are afoot by the Bangladesh government to relocate Rohingya refugees to a vulnerable island in the Bay of Bengal.