Leading Muslim figure in Myanmar buried after shooting

Ko Ni -- 'assassinated' as he returned to Yangon -- was prominent lawyer for National League for Democracy

Leading Muslim figure in Myanmar buried after shooting

World Bulletin / News Desk

Thousands of people attended the funeral for a high-profile Muslim lawyer and advisor to the ruling National League for Democracy (NLD) on Monday.

Ko Ni, 65, was shot in the head at Yangon International Airport on Sunday evening as he returned from a visit to Indonesia as part of a Myanmar delegation of Muslim leaders and government officials.

Government officials, public figures, religious leaders and Buddhist monks gathered at a Muslim ceremony in Yangon to see Ko Ni’s coffin, which was draped with a green flag of Islam, interred. His body had been wrapped in the NLD’s red fighting peacock flag.

Ko Ni, a Supreme Court advocate and legal advisor to the NLD, was an outspoken critic of Buddhist ultra-nationalism, particularly the anti-Muslim Ma Ba Tha, as well as the military’s continued role in Myanmar politics.

Following the killing, the NLD condemned it as an act of terrorism and suggested others had been involved. “It’s more important to know who is behind the assassination,” spokesman Win Htein told Anadolu Agency by telephone from capital Nay Pyi Taw.

“We believe more people [were] involved in the assassination.”

He also urged party members not to react strongly and said the NLD would monitor the investigation.

The suspected gunman was arrested shortly after the shooting and named by police, who did not suggest a motive. He is said to be a 53-year-old man from Mandalay who was released from prison in 2014. A taxi driver was also shot dead in the attack.

Nyunt Maung Shein, chairman of the Islamic Religious Council, described Ko Ni’s death as “a big loss for Myanmar Muslims as well as for the country” as he visited the lawyer’s home on Monday.

“He is one of the few prominent Muslims here,” he said.

Nyunt Maung Shein said he feared the killing could prompt another round of communal violence. “We urge all Muslim fellows not to react strongly to the killing,” he said. “We don’t want to see further communal violence in our country.”

Since mid-2012, violence between Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims in the western state of Rakhine has left more than 100 people dead and more than 100,000, mostly Rohingya, displaced in camps. Rohingya advocacy groups have said hundreds more have died in recent military operations.

Speaking to reporters at the funeral, Mya Aye, a former protest leader, said: “Those who killed him must be brought to justice.”

International human rights groups called for an independent and impartial investigation while the UN special rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar, Yanghee Lee, who recently met Ko Ni, tweeted that “all responsible people” should be brought to justice.

Ko Ni, chairman of the newly-formed Myanmar Muslim Lawyers Association, was an expert on constitutional issues in Myanmar and helped the NLD prepare changes to the 2008 charter that favored the military junta. 

 
Güncelleme Tarihi: 30 Ocak 2017, 16:15
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