Myanmar Activist Ko Jimmy in Critical Condition After Arrest by Junta

By The Irrawaddy 25 October 2021

Veteran Myanmar democracy activist Ko Kyaw Min Yu, better known as Ko Jimmy, one of the leaders of the 88 Generation Students Group, has been hospitalized in critical condition with a severe head injury after his arrest by the junta in an overnight raid in Yangon, according to his wife.

A large number of junta troops surrounded his hideout in North Dagon Township, Yangon, on Saturday night before breaking in and arresting him.

His wife Ma Nilar Thein told The Irrawaddy that the activist sustained serious injuries, including to the head, at the time of his arrest and was taken to the Mingalardone Military Hospital.

Ko Jimmy and his wife Ma Nilar Thein / Ma Nilar Thein’s Facebook

“He is in critical condition. I am really concerned for his life,” Ma Nilar Thein said, adding that the junta would be wholly responsible for anything that happens to Ko Jimmy.

Ko Jimmy was added to the junta’s wanted list at the same time as his comrade Ko Min Ko Naing, another leader of the 88 Generation Students Group, for their anti-regime activism, which began just days after the February coup in which the military overthrew the Daw Aung San Suu Kyi-led civilian government. The duo first came to political prominence as leaders of a university student boycott in 1988, when Myanmar stood against the then military dictator Ne Win’s socialist regime and demanded democracy.

Ko Min Ko Naing has been described as the country’s most prominent opposition figure after Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and has worked with the parallel National Unity Government and its parliamentary committee, which were formed by elected lawmakers who were prevented from taking seats by the coup, and their ethnic allies.

Since the coup, Ko Jimmy had been hiding in various places in Yangon while still participating in anti-regime activism over the past eight months, his wife said. She added that he had only moved to the location in North Dagon recently.

Ko Jimmy is the first member of the 88 Generation Students Group—a group of former student leaders who have led opposition against military regimes since the 1988 uprising—to be arrested since the coup.

“He chose to remain in the city and do whatever he can from inside,” said his wife, who is herself involved in the 88 Generation group and is also in hiding.

Ko Jimmy was arrested four times and jailed for several years under the former military regime. His most recent jail term was from 2007 to 2012 for his leading role in anti-government protests in 2007, known as the Saffron Revolution.

As of Monday afternoon, the junta had yet to issue any statement about Ko Jimmy’s detention.

Ma Nilar Thein, who is also a veteran democracy activist and a former political prisoner, told The Irrawaddy that the junta’s arrest and brutality against its opponents, including Ko Jimmy, would only encourage stronger resistance.

“The more we face difficulties and pain, the more we are determined to root out the military dictatorship,” she added.

Myanmar’s junta has killed nearly 1,200 people and detained more than 9,000 others since the Feb. 1 coup, according to the Assistance Association of Political Prisoners, an advocacy group.

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