On This Day

The Day the Widow of Myanmar's National Hero Died

By Wei Yan Aung 27 December 2019

Yangon – On this day 31 years ago, Daw Khin Kyi, the widow of national hero Gen. Aung San and mother of State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, died in Yangon after suffering a severe stroke.

Former dictator U Ne Win sent a wreath to her funeral and Prime Minister Saw Maung visited her house twice to pay his respects.

At the request of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the military regime allowed her body to be entombed in the park near Shwedagon Pagoda close to the tombs of Su Paya Latt, who was queen to Myanmar’s last monarch King Thibaw Min, and Thakhin Kodaw Hmaing, a former poet laureate considered a father of the nationalist movement, and third secretary-general of United Nations U Thant.

The military regime served tea at the funeral. Mourners – angry about the military’s brutal crackdown on pro-democracy protesters four months earlier in the 1988 uprising – broke the teacups and trays.

The funeral committee, in order to avoid riots, had to cover the hearse arranged by the military with National League for Democracy flags, and also covered up the wreath sent by U Ne Win with other wreaths.

However, seven months after the funeral, the military put Daw Aung San Suu Kyi under house arrest for the first time under the 1974 Law to Safeguard the State against the Dangers of Those Desiring to Cause Subversive Acts, which was scrapped in 2016. The military again ordered her house arrest in 2000 and 2003. In 2012, one year after her release from house arrest, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi founded the Daw Khin Kyi Foundation to promote health, educational and living standards.

Daw Khin Kyi served as a nurse at Yangon Hospital during Japanese rule and supported Gen. Aung San in his fight for independence as a supportive and caring wife. Gen. Aung San was assassinated in their fifth year of married life.

She was a member of Parliament from 1947 to 1952 and chaired the Women’s Association of Burma in the 1950s.

In 1960, she became the country’s first and only female ambassador to India, with special responsibility for Nepal. After her retirement in 1967, she refused to take her pension, citing the appalling economic conditions of the country. She had a peaceful retirement, growing flowers and vegetables.

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