Fri 4 Mar 2005
Filed under: Inside Burma,News
Yangon: Chit Maung, one of Myanmar’s few surviving veteran politicians who sought freedom from British rule alongside independence hero Aung San more than half a century ago, died Friday at age 90, relatives said.
The avowed socialist began his extended political career in Burma as a teenager in the early 1930s, and in his later years urged the country’s military rulers to seek an accommodation with the pro-democracy opposition.
“He died naturally and peacefully of old age,” one of his sons told AFP.
Fellow politician Ohn Maung said Chit Maung spent his final days “still fighting for the cause of peace, national unity and democracy.”
He was active in the anti-British campaign led by General Aung San, the father of pro-democracy icon and Nobel peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.
Aung San was assassinated in 1947, less than a year before the country gained independence.
In 1950 Chit Maung helped form the Burma Workers and Peasants Party, nicknamed the “Red Socialists”, but was sidelined after a military coup in 1962.
He formed his own political party, the Democratic Front for National Reconstruction, in the 1980s.
In his later years Chit Maung joined 22 other former freedom fighters in founding the Veteran Politicians Group. They have sent open letters to Myanmar’s present military ruler, Senior General Than Shwe, urging the release of Aung San Suu Kyi and the renewal of national reconciliation talks.
“He was a politician to the last, and never gave up hope that democracy would prevail here,” Ohn Maung said.
Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy won a landslide victory in 1990 general elections but the military junta, which changed Burma’s name to Myanmar, ignored the result, saying it would hand over power only after a new constitution was put in place.
The country remains without a charter, but a national convention is underway to draft one as part of the junta’s first step in its democracy “roadmap”.
Western governments and the United Nations have derided the convention as a sham.