Myanmar Opposition Leader Dies In Prison From COVID-19

A central executive committee (CEC) member of the National League for Democracy (NLD) and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s long-time personal lawyer, U Nyan Win died of COVID-19 recently after being detained by the Myanmar military regime.
As a result of the junta’s Feb. 1 coup, the 79-year-old was arrested and held in Insein Prison, where he contracted Coronavirus. On July 11, he was transferred to Yangon General Hospital’s intensive care unit.
He is the first political prisoner to die of COVID-19, as Myanmar struggles with an outbreak of infections and deaths from a devastating third wave of the Coronavirus.
Nyan Win joined the NLD soon after it was founded following the 1988 pro-democracy uprising.
In the 1990 election, which the previous military regime refused to recognize, he was elected to represent Paung Township in Mon State. While under house arrest, he was also the attorney for detained State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.
A member of the NLD’s Central Research Committee described Ko Kyaw Wunna as a ‘parent’ to him. His life this time was sacrificed since he had been arrested and released several times without being imprisoned.
For nine years, Ko Kyaw Wunna worked closely with U Nyan Win. He described him as “a legal expert with a good heart, quiet yet disciplined, friendly with the media, and committed to the NLD party since its formation”.
His wife and daughter survive him. She has been suffering from a chronic illness
Her family and friends are also worried about her health because she has had Alzheimer’s disease for nearly a decade.
U Nyan Win, who served as a spokesperson for the NLD, also led the party’s electoral campaigns in the 2012 by-election and the 2015 and 2020 general elections. He was always outspoken about the undemocratic, military-crafted 2008 Constitution.
As tensions between the NLD and military chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing intensified after the 2020 election, U Nyan Win predicted that the military would stage a coup.
According to the legal expert, the coup could occur, but the military cannot seize power under the 2008 Constitution, and if they did so, they would face a backlash one day. Due to the COVID-19 situation, Ko Kyaw Wunna did not expect that the coup would last.
A few hours after the coup and the detention of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the NLD’s senior leadership, including the entire CEC, was detained by the junta on Feb. 1, 2021. U Nyan Win’s whereabouts were unknown until March 6, when his family learned that he had been moved to Insein Prison.
In response, he was charged with sedition under Article 505(b) of the Penal Code for NLD statements made on Feb. 7 and Feb. 13, 2021.
In her meeting with U Nyan Win earlier this month, Daw San Mar Lar Nyunt, U Nyan Win’s lawyer and a family friend, said he was healthy and said she had worked with him for 32 years.
U Nyan Win had been diagnosed with cardiomegaly, an enlarged heart often associated with heart disease. Additionally, he had gout and stomach problems.
Since Feb. 1, more than 2,100 people have died from COVID-19, according to the junta-controlled Ministry of Health and Sports. The actual death toll is believed to be much higher due to the underreporting of Coronavirus deaths.
Since July 8, 13,000 prisoners at the Insein Prison have been locked down to prevent the spread of Coronavirus; their trials have been suspended. Sen. Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, the leader of the coup in Myanmar, said recently that 315 COVID-19 victims are being held in prisons, and 190 are still receiving treatment, while five have died. The number of political prisoners infected, however, was not disclosed. The Coronavirus has infected other political prisoners as well, So far, 919 civilians had been killed and 6,828 arrested during anti-regime protests. According to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, over 5,000 people are still detained.

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