Tue 9 Nov 2004
Filed under: Inside Burma,News
Yangon: One of the last surviving members of Myanmar’s “Thirty Comrades” independence heroes has died. Bohmu Aung was 95.
He died of natural causes at his residence in the capital Yangon on Tuesday, said family members, who asked not to be named.
Bohmu Aung and the other Thirty Comrades — many of whom had been student anti-colonial activists — secretly went to Japan in 1940 for military training to fight their British rulers.
They returned to form the Burma Independence Army, which operated alongside the Japanese but turned against them toward the end of World War II.
The group was led by the young and charismatic Gen. Aung San, who was assassinated by political foes in 1947, shortly before Myanmar — then called Burma — obtained formal independence from Britain. His daughter, Aung San Suu Kyi, today heads the opposition to the ruling military regime.
After independence, Bohmu Aung served in various capacities under the democratic government of U Nu, but was jailed after Gen. Ne Win — another of the Thirty Comrades — took power in a 1962 coup d’etat.
When Ne Win was forced from power in 1988, Bohmu Aung became actively involved in the pro-democracy movement, which briefly flourished until it was crushed by the military. In 1989, he was placed under house arrest for nearly two years.
His sympathies, however, remained with Aung San Suu Kyi’s pro-democracy movement. He signed several public appeals urging the ruling junta to negotiate with her National League for Democracy party, which won a 1990 general election but was not allowed to take power.
Only two of the Thirty Comrades now survive: Bo Kyaw Zaw, who is believed living in Beijing, and Bo Ye Htut, who lives in Yangon. Bohmu Aung’s family said the latter offered his condolences on Wednesday.
Bohmu Aung is survived by four grown children.