A former military captain who tried to shoot pro-democracy leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi 32 years ago died of COVID-19 after he was initially turned down by a military hospital for treatment.
Ex-captain Myint Oo, 60, died on Saturday at a military-run medical facility in Hmawbi in Yangon.
On April 4, 1989, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi was on the campaign trail for the National League for Democracy (NLD) in Ayeyarwady Region when she and her supporters were confronted by a group of soldiers led by the captain in the delta town of Danubyu. At the time, the then military regime was trying to suppress Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and her NLD due to their huge popular support.
On the day, Myint Oo barked orders for the procession to disperse. However, the walk by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and her supporters went on, prompting soldiers to aim their rifles at the group, awaiting an order to fire from Myint Oo, who continued to shout that the soldiers would open fire if the group continued to walk on the side of the road.
The intense situation was suddenly defused by a major who interrupted the captain, ordering him not to shoot, saying, “This is not the frontline… This is politics.”
The major’s intervention made Myint Oo furious. He tore off his epaulettes on the spot.
Years later, the captain recalled that he would definitely have fired on Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and her supporters because he had received a written order from upstairs to do so.
“I just wanted to be a dutiful soldier who follows orders,” he said, adding that the last-minute change to the order made him angry enough to tear off his epaulettes, because “they didn’t follow the order they issued.”
Despite tearing off his epaulettes, Myint Oo remained in the army until 1992, when he was transferred to the Irrigation Ministry, where he eventually retired as a deputy director.
When the NLD came to power in 2015, he remained anti-NLD and anti-Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, using his Facebook account to voice his displeasure at them and his loyalty to the military.
However, he felt betrayed all over again on July 18 when he rushed to the 1,000-Bed Military Hospital in Yangon after developing a fever, one of the symptoms of COVID-19. He was not welcomed and was yelled at by officers on duty. After two days of seeking admission, he tested positive and was sent to a COVID-19 center without proper referral documents and was turned away from there as well.
This angered him so much he wrote a warning on his Facebook page, saying he “didn’t want to turn red after having been green after all these years,” meaning the incidents had prompted him to consider whether to support the NLD, as he had been betrayed by the military.
After his post, Myint Oo was admitted to a military hospital in Hmawbi but he died there on Saturday. While he was no doubt glad that he was finally taken care of by the military he held dear, the initial rejections and mistreatment of him at the military hospitals in his hour of need forced him to contemplate the true colors of the military to which he had been loyal his whole life.
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