On This Day

The Assassination of Myanmar’s Communist Leader

By Wei Yan Aung 24 September 2019

YANGON—On this day 51 years ago, Thakhin Than Tun, the first chairman of the Communist Party of Burma (CPB), was assassinated by party member Mya Gyi in the Toungoo District, Bago Region, where the CPB was headquartered.

Thakhin Than Tun was a prominent figure in Myanmar’s struggle for independence but he split with the Anti-Fascist People’s Freedom League (AFPFL) government over defense, the economy and other issues. He went underground and took up arms against the AFPFL government just two months after Myanmar regained independence in January 1948.

His armed rebellion marked the beginning of civil war in Myanmar. Nearly twenty years after he launched the rebellion, Thakhin Than Tun executed senior CPB party leaders and many party members in his own cultural revolution inspired by China’s Cultural Revolution.

Thakhin Than Tun himself was assassinated by former military soldier Mya Gyi on Sept. 24, 1968. The following day, Mya Gyi turned himself in to the government.

In the ensuing years, attacks by the Myanmar military forced the CBP to relocate its headquarters from Bago Region to the northeastern border of Myanmar. However, the party collapsed in 1989 due to conflicting factions within the party. Thakhin Than Tun was the uncle of Myanmar’s State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.

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