Ex-Myanmar Military Officers in Fear After Former General’s Assassination

By The Irrawaddy 28 September 2022

The assassination of an obscure retired general at his Yangon home has sent shockwaves through Myanmar’s regime and the city’s community of retired officers.

Ex-Brigadier General Ohn Thwin, 72, was shot dead on Saturday and his son-in-law, a retired captain, was also killed.

Ohn Thwin was the mentor to deputy junta chief Vice Senior General Soe Win.

Following the assassination, Thet Thet Khine, a former National League for Democracy member and now a regime-appointed minister, had her Bahan Township home fenced off with numerous rolls of razorwire and five CCTV cameras were added along the fence.

Her family still lives in the house while she spends most of her time in Naypyitaw.

Most retired generals live in Yangon although many have mansions in Naypyitaw. But after Ohn Thwin’s assassination, many are thought to be considering a move to the ghost-town capital which is now under a nighttime curfew.

Former Brigadier General Ohn Thwin with former colleagues at the Armed Forces Day parade in Naypyitaw in March 2022.

Junta-appointed ministers and their deputies are apparently moving, The Irrawaddy has been told.

While affluent neighborhoods in Yangon are scattered with retired generals, they also live in separate luxury estates in Thuwunna, Thanlyin and Mayangone townships, known as “Bogyoke Ywar” or the villages of generals.

Lieutenant generals and generals can keep guns after their retirement and the military provides them with security. But there is no junta security apparatus for other retired officers. Some retired officers have asked on social media to keep firearms with a license.

Junta officials were also shocked when Thein Aung, the chief financial officer of Mytel Telecommunications Co, a joint venture between the military and Vietnam’s defense ministry, was gunned down by an unidentified man in Mayangone Township, Yangon, in November last year.

The 56-year-old was a former naval lieutenant commander and was a friend of the current navy chief, Admiral Moe Aung.

It is widely believed that insiders were involved in both assassinations of two low-profile former officers.

Veterans have been rocked by fear and insecurity since Ohn Thwin’s assassination, admitted a retired officer.

Regime-appointed minister Thet Thet Khine. / Facebook

“Soldiers are not afraid of death as they have fought all their lives. But they are concerned for their families,” said a source close to a retired general.

The regime apparently has no plan to protect former personnel but it does want to bring them back to duty when necessary. Ohn Thwin was a prominent reservist.

Under the NLD government, the military forced then defense minister Lt-Gen Sein Win and border affairs minister Lt-Gen Ye Aung to step down and appointed them as chair and vice-chair of the Myanmar War Veterans’ Organization.

The regime has stopped officers in the junta-affiliated Border Guard Force in Karen State from retiring amid fierce fighting with resistance groups, pointing to a recruitment crisis.

And what was junta chief Min Aung Hlaing doing when former generals were panicked by the news of Ohn Thwin’s assassination on Saturday evening?

He was watching a play about Natshinnaung and how the 17th-century Taungoo prince’s alliance with the Portuguese mercenary Filipe de Brito e Nicote led to his destruction.

The following day, Soe Win attended the same play, despite the murder of his mentor.