Tens of thousands attend funeral of murdered Muslim lawyer in Myanmar

January 30, 2017 10:30 pm

Supporters carry the coffin of Ko Ni, a prominent member of ’s Muslim minority and legal adviser for ’s ruling National League for Democracy, after he was shot dead, in Yangon, , on January 30, 2017. (Photo by Reuters)

Tens of thousands of mourners have gathered at a funeral ceremony held for Ko Ni, a prominent Muslim attorney and adviser to Myanmar’s ruling National League for Democracy (NLD) party, who was recently shot dead in an act of assassination.
An estimated 100,000 mourners, including family members, lawyers and NLD activists, attended the ceremony on Monday to bury the 63-year-old at a Muslim cemetery in Myanmar’s commercial capital, Yangon.
The lawyer had been shot dead a day earlier while getting into a taxi in front of the main terminal of Yangon International Airport. A taxi driver was also killed and two other people were injured in the attack. Police later arrested the 53-year-old assassin, Kyi Lin, at the scene.

Mourners carry the coffin of Ko Ni, prominent Muslim lawyer who was shot dead on January 29, at the Muslim cemetery in Yangon on January 30, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

Ni was a leading advocate of Muslims’ rights and co-founded the Muslim Lawyers Association last year.
“This is a great loss not only for our community but also for the country,” said Win Myint, a Muslim religious leader, who was at the Monday funeral. “He was necessary to our country’s democratic system.”
The office of Myanmar’s army chief also said in a statement that the military would offer its full support in an investigation into the shooting and the motive behind it.
“As this tragedy could seriously harm security, the army will cooperate with security organizations to arrest any culprits soonest and reveal the truth,” the statement said.

Mourners arrive to pay their last respect over the coffin bearing Ko Ni, a prominent Muslim lawyer who was shot dead on January 29, at his funeral in Yangon on January 30, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s de facto leader and the head of NLD, has yet to comment on the assassination. However, her party said Ko Ni “is irreplaceable for both Aung San Suu Kyi and the party.”
Meanwhile, Amnesty International said the killing had “all the hallmarks of an assassination” and called for a thorough investigation into the death of a man it described as a “tireless human rights campaigner.”
Meanwhile, Ni’s daughter, Yin Nwe Khaing, said her father had enemies because he had been a prominent Muslim voice and spoken out against the continuing influence of the military on politics.
“A lot of people hate us because we have different religious beliefs, so I think that might be why it happened to him, but I don’t know the reason,” she said.
The daylight shooting comes amid Myanmar government’s heightened crackdown against Rohingya Muslims.

The file photo shows assassinated Ko Ni, a prominent Muslim lawyer and adviser to Myanmar’s ruling National League for Democracy party.

Myanmar’s military intensified its crackdown in Rakhine State after an attack on the country’s border guards on October 9, 2016 left nine police officers dead, which the government blamed on the Rohingya.
There are reports that at least 400 people have been killed, more than 2,500 houses, mosques, and religious schools destroyed, and three villages completely wiped out during the military crackdown.
Myanmar’s government has also blocked humanitarian and media access to Rakhine, which is home to about 1.1 million Rohingya.
Rohingya Muslims have been subjected to executions, rape, and arson attacks since last October, according to refugees and rights groups.
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