Veteran NLD Leader Dies a Month After Release from Myanmar Junta Detention

By The Irrawaddy 30 November 2021

Monywa Aung Shin, the secretary of the National League for Democracy’s (NLD) Central Information Committee, died of a heart attack on November 28.

A media-savvy politician who would take questions from journalists with a smile, Monywa Aung Shin’s sudden death came a month after he was released from a Yangon interrogation center, where he had been detained since the junta’s February 1 coup.

The 76-year-old, who was asthmatic, suffered a cardiac arrest at his home in Yangon’s Tamwe Township last week and was taken to Yangon General Hospital, where he spent several days before his death.

“He died of cardiac arrest. He had asthma. It was all too sudden,” said his wife. Tragically, their son died in a road accident just over a month before his father’s death.

Monywa Aung Shin’s real name was U Aye Kyu. He was born in Monywa, Sagaing Region on May 18, 1945, but attended high school in Yangon’s Mingalar Taung Nyunt Township and then trained as a teacher.

From 1970, he worked as an editor of magazines and published a number of volumes of poetry. He was one of the leading organizers of the Moe Wai poetry movement in 1970, when new forms of verse were introduced to Myanmar. He also translated English poems into Burmese, according to writers.

“He mostly lived in Monywa and was known as a politician and editor. He worked very closely with U Aung Shwe [one of the NLD founders],” said a writer who asked for anonymity.

Under previous military regimes, Monywa Aung Shin was banned from writing from 1976 to 2010.

He was also detained several times because of his participation in student movements in Yangon and his political activities for the NLD. In 1988, during the early days of the NLD, he served as the chairman of the NLD branch in Monywa and as a vice chair of the Sagaing Region NLD.

Monywa Aung Shin was on the NLD’s Central Executive Committee and acted as secretary of the Central Information Committee until his death. He also served as the chief editor of the D Wave journal published by the NLD.

During the 2015 general election and the 2012 by-elections, he served on the NLD’s Central Campaign Committee. He also wrote a book on the history of the NLD between 1988 and 2010.

NLD members said Monywa Aung Shin never cared for status or position in the party, but was always willing to fulfill any role to serve the interests of the NLD.

Yangon Region lawmaker U Bo Bo Oo of Dala Township said that Monywa Aung Shin had always wanted to see Myanmar prosper and that his death is a loss to both the NLD and the country.

“He might have been sad that democratization was reversed and at how the military dictator is treating the people. These could have been contributing factors [in his death]. His health was not good and that resulted in his death when coupled with those factors,” said U Bo Bo Oo.

NLD members, writers, some politicians and political parties expressed their condolences via social media.

The NLD issued a condolence letter in which it said that Monywa Aung Shin stood with the party through thick and thin and was always ready to perform any duty assigned to him.

His death was a huge loss, said the NLD, not only for the party but also for Myanmar as the veteran politician was sharing his knowledge about federal democracy through the party’s communication channels.

The People’s Party and the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy (SNLD) also published condolence letters.

The SNLD said in its letter that Monywa Aung Shin was committed as a politician to Myanmar’s democratization, and that he also fulfilled a role in Myanmar’s literary world as the editor of D Wave Journal and as a published poet.

The Shan State-based party said it appreciated his efforts and called his death a great loss for the struggle for democracy in Myanmar.

Monywa Aung Shin’s funeral was held on November 30. The veteran politician has finally departed the earth after decades of political ups and downs.

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