Victim of Red Cross Convoy Ambush in Kokang Dies

By Kyaw Phyo Tha 30 March 2015

RANGOON — A volunteer who was shot during an attack on a Red Cross convoy last month in northeast Burma succumbed to his injuries on Friday, according to a statement released by the Myanmar Red Cross Society (MRCS) on Saturday.

Moe Kyaw Than, 45, died at Mandalay General Hospital, where he had been referred by Lashio Hospital earlier this month. He was hit in the abdomen and received initial treatment at Kunlong General Hospital on the day of attack, Feb. 17.

“There were seven wounds to his intestines. As a consequence, he suffered blood poisoning, causing his heart and liver to weaken. So we referred him to the hospital in Lashio for better treatment,” said Dr. Thein Myo, the head of Kunlong General Hospital.

The MRCS convoy was ambushed by unknown assailants as it was traveling near Laukkai, the administrative capital of Kokang Special Region, where insurgents have been in conflict with the Burma Army since early February.

The fleet of seven vehicles, which was transporting more than 100 displaced persons from Laukkai, as well as MRCS staff and at least two journalists, was attacked while driving between Laukkai and Chin Shwe Haw after an aid mission to the devastated township.

Two members of the convoy were injured, including Moe Kyaw Than, during five minutes of gunfire. Both victims were transported to Kunlong General Hospital for medical treatment after members of the convoy spent 30 minutes hiding in a street-side gutter, according to The Irrawaddy’s photographer JPaing, who was traveling with the group.

In its statement, the MRCS said Moe Kyaw Than had intended to return to work at the organization pending a full recovery.

“A Red Cross member has to help anyone in distress,” he was quoted as saying during his treatment in Lashio. “We will all die someday, wherever we are. But before we die, we should do something meaningful if we can. I want to keep doing it after a full recovery.”

“I feel bad losing one of my comrades,” said Thein Myo, who is also the president of the Red Cross chapter in Kunlong and had served as the deceased’s supervisor. “He did his job well even though he knew it was dangerous. I’m proud of him.”

Moe Kyaw Than is survived by his wife and five children. A funeral was held on Sunday in Kunlong.

“There were several hundred mourners, including from nearby villages. I have to say it was a fine funeral,” Thein Myo said.