RANGOON — The last member of the “Thirty Comrades,” the legendary group that spearheaded Burma’s struggle against British colonial rule, has died. He was 91.
Ye Htut died of old age at a hospital in the main city of Rangoon on Wednesday, family members said.
The Thirty Comrades were led by Gen. Aung San, father of democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi. During World War II, the men went to Japan for training to fight British colonizers. Aung San later negotiated independence from Britain, but was assassinated before that happened in 1948.
Ye Htut, who had been serving in the Burma army up until independence, went underground soon after, joining the armed struggle of the banned Burma Communist Party.
He laid down his weapons in 1963 to join the ruling party of then-dictator Gen Ne Win, but was purged several years later in an inner-party struggle, according to his eldest son Kyaw Kyaw.
Ye Htut was involved in the 1988 pro-democracy movement.
Tin Oo, a former chief-of-staff and a veteran of Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy, expressed his condolences, saying he had great respect those who helped the country fight for independence.
“I am very sad to hear about the death of the last surviving member of the Thirty Comrades,” he said.
Tin Oo said he had met Ye Htut before independence and also when he served in Ne Win’s ruling party.
“U Ye Htut served as a patron of the Patriotic Old Comrades league — a group formed by retired army leaders during the peak of 1988 uprising. He shared his experience and had given us advice during the initial days,” Tin Oo said.
Ye Htut is survived by his two sons.