Obituary: Myanmar Democracy Activist, Writer Maung Moe Thu Dies

By The Irrawaddy 2 September 2021

Maung Moe Thu, a prominent writer, director and former political prisoner who worked closely with detained State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi in the founding of the National League for Democracy (NLD), died peacefully aged 85 at his Yangon home on Wednesday.

He took an active part in the pro-democracy movement in 1988 as the secretary of the writers’ union together with former major and well-known writer Maung Thaw Ka and journalist Hanthawaddy U Win Tin. He was a member of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s inner circle during the founding of the NLD.

He actively worked for the party, collecting donations to rent an office, finding artists to draw the party’s flag and accompanying Daw Aung San Suu Kyi in her campaigns.

When she was put under house arrest for the first time on July 19, 1989, Maung Moe Thu was taken to Insein Prison for the first time together with journalist Maung Wuntha and U Win Htein because of the party slogan: “Let’s always defy any law that oppresses the people.”

Hanthawaddy U Win Tin (far left), Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and Maung Moe Thu (center).

He was released in 1992 but the military regime barred him from engaging in any form of artistic expression. As a supporter of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, he was detained for a second time under Article 5 of the Emergency Provision Act in 1996 and spent four years in prison. He was allowed to attend his wife’s funeral in December 1999.

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi told him at the funeral: “Neither of us has been dutiful to our spouses.”

Some eight months earlier, her husband, Michael Aris, died in England. Aris repeatedly tried to visit before he died but was denied a visa.

After his release from prison in 2000, Maung Moe Thu worked as an editor and columnist for magazines and painted. He was affectionately referred to as Bagyi Moe or Uncle Moe while staying involved in literature, movies, art, sculpture, music and politics. He served as consultant editor for the D-Wave Journal published by the NLD and patron of the Hanthawaddy U Win Tin Foundation.

He directed numerous films and videos and wrote scripts. He wrote many poems, novels and translated books with Leon Uris’ 1958 bestseller Exodus his most popular translation.

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