Prominent Protest Leader Escapes Arrest by Myanmar Junta

By The Irrawaddy 20 April 2021

One of Myanmar’s most prominent anti-regime protest leaders has escaped arrest after junta security forces failed to capture him at his home on Monday.

Soldiers and police—some in plainclothes—arrived at Ko Tayzar San’s apartment in Mandalay and forcibly entered by smashing down the door.

The protest leader was not there at the time of the raid as he has been in hiding elsewhere.

The failed attempt to detain the 32-year-old comes a few days after the regime seized another protest leader Ko Wai Moe Naing in Sagaing Region’s Monywa. His mother said she has lost contact with her son since then and is worried about his safety.

Ko Tayzar San has become a familiar face in Mandalay, Myanmar’s second-largest city, since early February for being at the forefront of anti-regime protests. He is known for his leading role in organizing the first ever protest against the junta in Myanmar just a few days after their Feb.1 coup, while other activists in the country were still deliberating their course of action.

Following that first protest in Mandalay, anti-regime rallies started taking place across the country.

Former US President George W. Bush, Ko Tayzar San, Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama and Laura Bush in 2016.

After the failed raid on his home on Monday, Ko Tayzar San wrote on his Facebook page that he had abandoned the place for some time.

“But they rampaged through the whole apartment and took everything,” he said.

The protest leader said he was upset that his collection of books at the apartment was ‘robbed’ by the regime’s troops. Ko Tayzar San is also an executive director at a free library in Mandalay.

“The Tatmadaw (Myanmar’s military) has become a gang of robbers. It would be gut-wrenching for its founder General Aung San,” he wrote. Aung San established the Myanmar military 79 years ago and was also the father of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s detained leader.

Ko Tayzar San said the raid and robbery were testaments to how Tatmadaw troops have behaved in the country’s ethnic areas, where fighting between the army and ethnic armed groups has raged for decades. Extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrests, arson and looting by the army have been widely reported.

“Now we have experienced it personally,” he said.

“It also proves that they [Tatmadaw] are our common enemy who have been hindering our attempt to establish federal democracy in the country,” he added.

Before Ko Tayzar San came to prominence as a protest leader, he trained as a medical doctor but worked as a librarian and NGO worker with a focus on public health, political education and youth capacity building.

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