From the Archive

Remembering Myanmar’s Fallen Heroes

By The Irrawaddy 30 March 2022

On March 27, 2021, the Myanmar junta shot dead over 100 civilians across the country, marking a dramatic escalation in its bloody crackdown on those peacefully protesting its seizure of power from the country’s democratically elected government on Feb. 1 last year. To mark the anniversary of the grim milestone, which saw the military crackdown’s death toll surpass 500—it now stands above 1,700—The Irrawaddy revisits an article published three days later honoring some of those killed for peacefully opposing the military dictatorship during its first month.

Myanmar witnessed its deadliest day on Saturday since the junta’s Feb.1 coup, with the security forces gunning down over 100 civilians during brutal crackdowns on peaceful anti-regime protesters across the country.

At least 510 heroes have now died at the hands of the junta, while trying to overthrow military rule and restore democracy to Myanmar. The Irrawaddy has collected the names of some of those fallen stars who performed acts of bravery, including saving and protecting others while faced with the regime’s guns and bullets.

Thinzar Hein, 20
March 28, Sagaing Region

Ma Thinzar Hein, a nursing student killed by a shot to the head while she was treating injured civilians during a crackdown on anti-regime protesters. She was working with a first aid rescue team for protesters in Monywa. Putting her own life at risk, she took to the streets to help protesters the day after the junta killed over 100 civilians across the country. Ma Thinzar Hein left a note on Facebook, “I am walking a path and uncertain of returning home, please forgive me, loved ones.”

Dr. Thiha Tin Tun, 27
March 27, Mandalay Region

 An assistant surgeon, Dr. Thiha Tin Tun was among the over 100 civilians gunned down by the security forces on Armed Forces Day. He was shot in his head and arm while he was helping to build a roadblock to protect protesters against advancing police and soldiers. His body was taken away by the military. Before heading to the protest, the young doctor left a letter to loved ones, to be proud of him and not to be sad for a long time if something happened to him.

He said “It is time we take back what we have lost, no matter what the cost is.” He said he would fight back against the security forces and said that “my hands used to hold scalpels and were already stained with blood.”

“Mom, if I die, be proud of me and don’t dwell on my death for so long. My death was for the sake of restoring the power of the people and the country’s sovereignty, don’t be sad for too long,” he wrote.  Referring to his grandmother, he wrote “Granny, your grandson died with courage. In case we meet again in our next life, would you still take care of me?”

He also called for the people who are fighting for democracy to never give up, saying “Rest only when the power of the people is restored.” “I am sorry I had to leave you so soon,” he said. He ended his letter with a powerful message to his fellow pro-democracy supporters, “May dictatorship fall! May the power of the people prevail!

Hti San Wan Hpri, 19
March 27, Yangon

Hti San Wan Hpri had attended protests almost daily at a barricade that was considered the most dangerous place for protesters in Yangon’s Thingangyun Township. An ethnic Rawang from Kachin State, the 19-year-old was shot and killed by security forces when they opened fire on the morning of March 27. His friends said that as soon as he was hit by the bullet, he shouted to the security forces “shoot me, don’t shoot my friends”. Just before he died, he told his friends to fight back against the regime and not to lose hope.

Ko Nay Lin Htwe, aka Mohamad Sadiq, 28
March 25, Shan State

Ko Nay Lin Htwe was killed by the junta’s security forces in the Shan State capital Taunggyi and widely recognized as a martyr. He fought back against the police and soldiers with a sword even as they sprayed bullets into a crowd of protesters. He was shot in the eye and thigh. His body was taken away by the security forces.

Ko Zaw Lin Htike, 31
March 22, Mandalay Region

 A young man and a volunteer with a charity group, Ko Zaw Lin Htike was shot in the head while he was attending to civilians injured during a security forces crackdown in Myayee Nanda Housing estate, Mandalay. He had worked for the charity for more than five years. He leaves his mother behind.

U Nay Myo Kyaw, 38
March 22, Mandalay Region

 U Nay Myo Kyaw was another volunteer in Mandalay who was killed by the regime’s security forces on March 22. He was shot in the chest while on his way to help gunshot victims in Myayee Nanda Housing estate, Mandalay.

Ko Thet Paing Soe, 28
March 20, Yangon Region

Ko Thet Paing Soe was shot in the head and died on March 20 while the military was cracking down on protesters in Yangon’s Tamwe Township. Despite coming from a military family, he actively participated in protests in Yangon by taking daily duty at the protesters’ barricades, holding a makeshift shield to protect other protesters. He was gunned down by the regime on a day that he was in charge of scouting at the barricade. Residents in Kyauk Myaung renamed the road where he died as Thet Paing Soe road.

Ko Ye Thu Aung
March 19, Shan State

 Residents in Shan State’s Aung Ban Township said he was a brave man. When people in Aung Ban took to the streets, Ko Ye Thu Aung was always present at the protesters barricades. He used to tell his friends not to give up fighting back against the regime saying that “if we are afraid, we will have live under the boot of the military”. On March 19, when security forces opened fire on protesters, he helped other young protesters to escape. He even carried injured women to safety. Later, he returned to fight with a sword against the police and soldiers who were randomly firing at the protesters and into residential areas. He was shot dead by the security forces while he was confronting them.

Ko Ye Swe Oo, 29
March 13, Mandalay Region

A local volunteer, Ko Ye Swe Oo was shot in the chest by the security forces while he was on the way to rescue student protesters who had been rounded up by police and soldiers in Mandalay. He leaves behind a wife and daughter.

Daw Pyone Pyone, 50
March 13, Mandalay Region

Residents in Mandalay’s Sein Pan will never forget Daw Pyone Pyone. A single mother with three children, she was shot in the head for giving shelter to young protesters attempting to hide from the security forces. On Mar.13, two dozen student protesters took refuge in her home after police and soldiers opened fire on protesters.

The security forces forcibly entered her home and forced Daw Pyone Pyone to show where the students were hiding. Soldiers shot her in the head from a few feet away after she protested strongly. After the soldiers began firing randomly inside the house, the students came out of hiding and were arrested.

Ko Chit Min Thu, 25
March 11, Yangon Region

“Forgive me, wife. If I don’t go out today and if others do the same, we won’t get democracy back.” Those were the last words 25-year-old Ko Chit Min Thu told his pregnant wife before joining a protest against the military regime in Yangon on March 11. He was shot dead while he was standing at the front of a protest in North Dagon Township holding a makeshift shield to protect other protesters. The bullet went through the shield into his head.

When he did not return alive, his tearful wife said that she tried to stop her husband protesting, saying she worried their baby and unborn child could lose their father. But he replied that he had to fight for democracy, she said.

Ko Zaw Thein Aung, 20
March 3, Sagaing Region

A 20-year-old delivery man for Foodpanda, Ko Zaw Thein Aung had many friends as he was a happy man and always willing to help others. He told his friends often that he would fight until the end to return his motherland to civilian rule. Ko Zaw Thein Aung was shot in the head while he was helping an injured woman during a brutal crackdown by the regime’s forces in Monywa.

Kyal Sin, 19
March 3, Mandalay Region

 A teenager wearing her “Everything will be OK” T-shirt at the protests, Kyal Sin led a group of young protesters in Mandalay. She shouted to her friend who was worried as the security forces fired tear gas and live rounds, “Are we united? We will not run!” At the same time, she kicked open a water pipe so that other protesters could rinse tear gas from their eyes. She tried to protect her friends amidst the chaos, warning them to sit down as bullets flew over the protesters. Soon afterwards, she was shot in the head by the security forces.

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