Burmese Spiderman Killed in Sagaing

By The Irrawaddy 4 February 2023

A young resistance fighter, known as the Burmese Spiderman because he wore a mask during anti-regime protests in Yangon, was killed during a clash in Shwebo Township, Sagaing Region, on Wednesday.

Khant Thiha, 17, and another two members of the Black Wolf Army, Yebaw Paing Gyi, 30, and Win Soe, 27, were killed in shelling near Bone Bweit village.

Spider, who was studying in Yangon, joined the Black Wolf Army in Shwebo in late April last year.

He previously participated in guerilla strikes in Yangon and worked as a citizen journalist to record the protests. He founded Nway Oo Photography, a revolutionary social network page, and volunteered with Covid patients to deliver oxygen cylinders.

Khant Thiha went on the run to avoid incitement charges after junta troops searched his home.

He continued to take part in flash-mob protests, shouting anti-regime slogans while wearing his mask to prevent junta forces from recognizing him, according to a friend.

“His revolutionary spirit was strong. He wanted to participate in the revolution wherever he was,” Khant Thiha’s friend told The Irrawaddy.

Spider in an anti-regime protest in Yangon.

Fellow strikers in Yangon said he tried to join the guerrilla strikes no matter how tired he was or how dangerous the situation was. They said he never missed a single protest until he left to join the armed resistance.

“If there were three strikes a day, he tried to go to all of them despite the regime’s violence,” Ye Nyi Htet of Anti-Junta Alliance Yangon told The Irrawaddy. “We are very hurt to hear the news.”

Khant Thiha survived the junta’s deadly vehicle-ramming attack on a flash-mob protest in Kyimyindaing Township, Yangon, in December 2021, which left five protesters dead and severely injured many others.

Thirteen revolutionary organizations in Yangon issued statements of condolence.

A Black Wolf Army spokesman said the death of three fighters was a bitter loss.

He said Khant Thiha fought in battles and took evidence of fighting and junta atrocities in Sagaing Region and helped raise funds.

“Although he was skinny, he was very brave. He was always enthusiastic to go to the frontline,” the spokesman told The Irrawaddy.

Khant Thiha joined Black Wolf Army in April last year.

He said the Black Wolf leaders urged Khant Thiha to continue his education instead of taking up arms because he was so young. But Khant Thiha said he would return to education when the revolution ended.

In Wednesday’s clash, Khant Thiha was not on the list to fight but he volunteered for the battle.

Khant Thiha died from blood loss from a leg wound while Yebaw Paing Gyi and Yebaw Soe Win died on the spot. An estimated four junta soldiers were also reported to have been killed.

The Black Wolf Army attacked regime troops near Bone Bweit village on Saturday in revenge for the three deaths and heavy junta casualties were reported.

The Black Wolf Army said Khant Thiha raised a three-finger salute and sang a revolutionary song as he died.

Khant Thiha previously told the Yangon Revolution Force in an interview that the public must participate in the revolution in any way they can.

A condolence video created by Yangon Revolution Force for Khant Thiha, also known as Spider.

“Please help and support resistance fighters and those who are continuing strikes on the ground. Please don’t forget our comrades jailed in prisons and those who gave their lives. If you participate, the revolution will surely be successful. So I hereby urge everyone to join,” he said.