Thousands Attend Rangoon Funeral for U Ko Ni

By Lawi Weng 30 January 2017

RANGOON — Thousands came to the Rangoon funeral of U Ko Ni, a legal advisor to the National League for Democracy (NLD), who was shot yesterday outside the commercial capital’s international airport.

The traditional Muslim ceremony at Yayway Cemetery in North Okkalapa Township was attended by U Ko Ni’s friends and supporters of many faiths. Mourners included NLD leaders U Tin Oo, U Nyan Win, 88 Generation leaders Min Ko Naing and Ko Ko Gyi, as well as other authorities, including staff members from foreign embassies.

“This was a political assassination. How could they do something like this?” alleged one woman, a relative of U Ko Ni, who was present at the funeral.

U Ko Ni was killed by a lone gunman at close range at Yangon International Airport after returning from a trip to Indonesia. The suspect in the murder has been identified as U Kyi Lin, a resident of Mandalay who police say hails from northern Shan State. Also killed in the incident was taxi driver U Nay Win, 48, who attempted to apprehend the shooter and was also shot. U Kyi Lin is in police custody.

Local Muslims said that U Ko Ni’s absence would be felt not only by their own religious community, but by Burma as a whole.

“He was an educated person. It is a loss for the country, not only for Muslims,” said Aung Kyi, a Muslim leader from Pabedan Township who attended the funeral.

One paper sign at the funeral read that the bullet that killed U Ko Ni “hit the Constitution,” but not him, a reference to the late lawyer’s commitment to amending Burma’s controversial, military-drafted 2008 charter.

U Ne Latt, also a lawyer, commended U Ko Ni’s work toward constitutional reform. He added that while lawyers would continue in his footsteps, he did not think anyone could match the contributions U Ko Ni had made in his lifetime.