Burma’s Former Spy Opens Art Gallery in Rangoon

Former intelligence chief Khin Nyunt sits in his new art gallery in Rangoon. (Photo: Nan Thiri Lwin / The Irrawaddy)

RANGOON—“I feel peace now, but I wanted to experience it more,” Burma’s former spymaster, one of the most feared men in Burma under the previous military regime, told The Irrawaddy on Tuesday. Khin Nyunt was accused of gross human rights abuses during his time in government, but now that he’s out of office he’s trying to find some zen—by getting in touch with his artistic side.

Khin Nyunt, who also served as prime minister under the former junta, has opened an art gallery in Burma’s commercial capital of Rangoon, welcoming members of the public into a beautiful Eden-like garden with fruit trees and rare flowers where artists can exhibit their work.

The barbed wire fences which used to keep out unwanted guests have been removed, as have the security details that once kept a lookout for the slightest signs of trouble. But the watchful eyes of the state are not far away, as soldiers stand guard over nearby military buildings.

Khin Nyunt has had numerous visitors—mostly elderly Burmese—to his “Nawaday Art Gallery” since he opened it to the public over the weekend. He greeted visitors on Tuesday dressed in a T-shirt and traditional green longyi.

In an exclusive interview with The Irrawaddy, he said he wanted to bring peace to his life by helping others, including Burmese artists.

“There are people who are good painters,” he said. “I wanted to help them. They can exhibit their work here without charge.

“A lot of tourists are visiting our country now as we have political change,” he continued. “This will be a place where tourists can come and buy good paintings, or I will help our Burmese artists to export their work and sell it to foreign countries.”

After serving for 45 years in the former military junta, Khin Nyunt said he now feels free.

“I did many things [during military rule], as it was my duty for the country,” he said. “It was a big burden. My life is free now and it is very different from the past.

“I have peace now. I feel sympathy to those who have to serve the country today. They have big burden.”

When asked what he believed he achieved under the former regime, he said he had started bringing peace to Burma’s ethnic regions but was not able to finish the job.

The military government under Khin Nyunt was accused of gross human rights violations during decades-long wars against marginalized minority groups in Burma’s ethnic regions. Since a nominally civilian government came to power in 2010, ceasefire deals have been reached with 10 major ethnic armed groups but fighting continues in Shan State and Kachin State.

Khin Nyunt refused to discuss politics on Tuesday, saying he was no longer a member of the government and it was not his place to be critical.

He has no further political ambitions, he said. Rather, he wants to pursue religious life.

“I wanted to tell the people that I would not do any more politics because I feel some people are afraid of me,” he said.


21 Responses to Burma’s Former Spy Opens Art Gallery in Rangoon

  1. Enough is enough. You don’t know how many thousands of people died because of your stupidity. Watch your back!

  2. “He has no further political ambitions, he said. Rather, he wants to pursue religious life.”
    Correction: He wants to be back in the limelight. To what purpose?

    “I wanted to tell the people that I would not do any more politics because I feel some people are afraid of me,”…. Really? Many are too dead to tell the tale.

    The poor florist strikes again. A new olden hti on a pagoda, now an art gallery, whatever next?

  3. Imagine – if you can – not having a conscience, none at all, no feelings of guilt or remorse no matter what you do, no limiting sense of concern for the well-being of strangers, friends, or even family members. Imagine no struggles with shame, not a single one in your whole life, no matter what kind of selfish, lazy, harmful, or immoral action you had taken.

    And pretend that the concept of responsibility is unknown to you, except as a burden others seem to accept without question, like gullible fools.

    Now add to this strange fantasy the ability to conceal from other people that your psychological makeup is radically different from theirs. Since everyone simply assumes that conscience is universal among human beings, hiding the fact that you are conscience-free is nearly effortless.

    You are not held back from any of your desires by guilt or shame, and you are never confronted by others for your cold-bloodedness. The ice water in your veins is so bizarre, so completely outside of their personal experience, that they seldom even guess at your condition.

    Welcome to the mind of Khin Nyunt – a classic psychopath.

    • Watch out!
      There’s a philanthropist about.
      Trying hard to atone for his sins?
      Excuses, excuses, but they’re wearing thin.
      Dazzle us with those ill gotten gains,
      However much to impress you take great pains.
      When it rains it stays patchy,
      Now’s their turn to get rich your ex-lackeys.
      Thank you “Baba”, ever so kind,
      The poor stay poor in their daily grind.

  4. Monks become ordinary men and cook fish-pate. Burmese generals become unemployed and open art galleries. What a story. Khin Nyunt has something to tell. That is how many innocent politicians he tortured and killed in his time at SLORC/SPDC.

    • Oh he will, just you wait. To vindicate himself and be exonerated. Maybe he needs a ghost writer. Plenty of ghosts tortured and killed waiting to be reunited with our former Secretary One, even if he builds another Maha Wizaya at Kyauktan.

  5. “I have peace now. I feel sympathy to those who have to serve the country today. They have big burden.”

    Big burden to be under the military head behind the curtain?? He seems to know well how things run!

  6. May be he need to add a torture chamber exhibition as well to his gallery!

  7. “He has no further political ambitions, he said. Rather, he wants to pursue religious life”

    classic, just like those khmer rouger leaders. the farce continues.

  8. Yes, let him be at peace.
    But remember that he has done immeasurable damage to the Myanmar communities. Whatever he does now, he must do it as part repayment of debt he has owed to the people of Burma.

  9. It is amazing for him to feel what he called ‘peace’ after all he had inflicted dukkha to young and old Burmese and there orphans, mentally and physically disable because of his strong hand. Where is karma, what the Buddhists believe, that comes back according to what some one has sown in life? Won’t it be morally and ethically courageous and right to beg for forgiveness to the people of Burma for causing catastrophe to the nation by his own plan and hand that served only his ambitious?

  10. Butcher will never become a saint.

  11. You destroyed many things in the country and most stupid thing has been crushing the then intelligentsia, who were one of the best in Asia and destroying the creation of new blood intelligentsia….[oppressing the whole education system systemically] as a result of your 16 years [1988 to 2004] oppressive rules, 4.5 million Burmese has become slaves in Thailand, Malaysia and other countries….pity our country & its people 90% of them are still in hand to mouth status.

  12. Dog tail cannot make straight as saying.art is suit with novel human,iam sure you are not one.your honor started with torture and killed opponent of regime.when you are fall guy pretending religious man in order obtain sympathy from your victim and general population.your partnership with monk Wiratu, 969 groups ,your frequent visit to monastery
    may work radicalizing ,drugged poison mind of general public of Buddhist to target weak minority rohingya ethnic and Myanmar Muslim. your SLORC period your letter to home ministry paralyzed whole rohingya ethinic life in arakan,completely isolated traveling from one village to other village, home are as own open prison.your part of hate toward Muslim faith,your smart psychopath secret intelligent supported all the way ,rohingya genocide in rakhine,ethnic cleansing massacre against Muslim in central Burma .Aung thaung many more your well wisher may be visit your art gallery,you can advised them at the corner for accelerate ,create more misery for minority Muslim as you hate them most.

  13. Isn’t it funny how these people, formerly in power, now want to have peace, do good and pursue a religious life in their old age when the day to meet their Maker is becoming too uncomfortably near?

    No amount of good deeds will cleanse their soul or conscience, nor will bring them peace in this life or next. There had been too much blood on their hands. Claims that he was just doing his duty and that he was trying to bring peace to the ethnic regions are ridiculous and laughable. Former Nazi soldiers claim they were just doing their duty too and bring peace and order to the world (under their boots)!

    Maybe people are no longer afraid of Khin Nyunt but maybe he should be afraid of them now. People have long memories, especially those who had been stripped of their rights and dignities, their possessions and livelihoods and those whose families and loved ones were tortured, raped and killed. For them the past is as fresh as yesterday… they will never forget nor forgive.

  14. How can these people without shame show their face to public after killing so many innocent people. They think they can wash their crimes by donating huge amount of money to monestaries and precious metal for Pagodas.

  15. Khin nyunt should apologize for his wrong doing and sin on all Burmese people. Than shwe is watching now what is the response from Burmese people on bama military thugs ( former or current). At least, Khin Nyunt designed cease-fire agreement with most ethnics ( it might be intention of encouraging to cultivate opiate in ethnics’ lands for enriching bama military thugs as well) as well as saved DASSK’s life (Daipen incident) as khin nyunt claimed.

  16. Mindset changed, everybody must forgive whatever he did in the past. What he had done is not with his soul intention. HE is the best serviceman. If with his intention he will never fail to to change his mindset. He is the man with strong will.

  17. Maung Lu Aye ( Law )R.A.S.U.1976

    A Cunning,Cruel, & Hypocrite . A Wolf who Disguised as A Sheep. A Monster is still a monster whether you change your Outer Appearance.

  18. The notorious Khin nyunt is has opened an art gallery. But he is still a member of the Burma’s Buddhist nazis. It says snakes like music.But why?
    He is not a new recruit among the art lovers. Hitler was an artist so is George War Bush lately took up art to enjoy life and relax. But could they sing the pains of their victims, paint the faces of the innocent people they tortured and killed?

  19. The notorious Khin nyunt has opened an art gallery. But he is still a member of the Burma’s Buddhist nazis. It says snakes like music.But why?
    We know he is not a new recruit among the art lovers. Hitler was an artist so is George War Bush lately took up art to enjoy life and relax. But could they sing the pains of their victims, paint the faces of the innocent people they tortured and killed?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 characters available. Comments with external links in the body text will be deleted by moderators.