The U Ko Ni I knew

The U Ko Ni I knew

@ http://yangon.coconuts.co/2017/02/09/u-ko-ni-i-knew

By Aung Naing Soe February 9, 2017
Lawyer U Ko Ni

U Ko Ni. Photo: Aung Naing Soe

 

In April last year, I took a foreign journalist to the downtown house of a prominent lawyer and government advisor in Yangon.

This was around the time that the newly elected National League for Democracy was trying to carve out a role for its longtime leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

The military-drafted constitution prevents anyone with foreign children or a spouse from becoming president, and her two sons respectively hold citizenship in the UK and the US.

The party put forward Suu Kyi’s aide Htin Kyaw for the presidential post, but that still left us all wondering about a title for The Lady that would enable her to claim rightful leadership of the civilian government.

Surrounded by books, the lawyer and adviser seemed confident that it would all work out. He had come up with a solution.

“Everyone will be amazed,” he said. “There will be a new position for Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, which I can’t tell you about now.”

We left with more questions than answers, but a few days later the government announced that Suu Kyi would occupy a new position titled “State Counsellor.”

The adviser was, of course, U Ko Ni, who was assassinated in broad daylight at the Yangon International Airport on January 29. A heroic taxi driver, Ne Win, was shot dead while trying to chase after the suspect. At least two suspects have been arrested.

I don’t want to take time here to speculate about the motives behind U Ko Ni’s murder. Some think it was related to his work on amending the constitution, while others think he was targeted for being a Muslim. The answers will hopefully come, and justice will hopefully be served.

Instead, I want to use this space to pay tribute to a man I have known and admired for years.

Normally dressed in a signature black and red traditional jacket, he was tall and imposing but had a delicate voice when he spoke.

He sometimes held seminars and training sessions on a variety of topics, and I attended them. He treated us young people respectfully.

When we asked questions, his answers were precise. When I became a journalist and would interview him for a story, he was patient with me. On difficult points, he would often say, “Do you understand?” If I didn’t, he would back up and explain again.

He worked on sensitive issues, including religious tolerance and the 25 percent allotment of parliamentary seats to the military. At a time when the Muslim community had no official representation in parliament, he didn’t forget them and remained an advocate for their rights.

He was doing this work up until the days before he died. In late January, he was part of a meeting between Muslim leaders and immigration officials to discuss issues related to citizenship documentation.

Although he received threats, he kept working. At the hospital just after her father’s death, his daughter Dr. Yin Nwe Khine said he attracted a lot of hatred because he “spoke the truth.”

But just as he attracted enemies, he attracted friends. This is why we saw throngs of people of all different religions pay their respects at his funeral in Yangon.

No matter what happens now, I like to think that U Ko Ni would have wished for someone in Myanmar to continue his work, which, in the end, was all about reducing suffering.

People can be killed, but voices live on.

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One thought on “The U Ko Ni I knew

  1. Soe Min
    12 hrs ·
    က်ေနာ္သိေသာ ဦးကိုနီ
    =================
    Aung Naing Soe /
    Coconuts Yangon news

    တကယ္လို႔ အေမစုသာ ျပီးခဲ႔တဲ႔ ေရြးေကာက္ပြဲတုန္းက အန္အလ္ဒီမွာ ေရာက္ေနတဲ႔ မြတ္စလင္အဖြဲ႔ဝင္ေတြ အားလုံး ကို လႊတ္ေတာ္ကိုယ္စားလွယ္ အျဖစ္ ေရြးေကာက္ပြဲဝင္ဖို႔ မတားျမစ္ခဲ႔ဘူးဆိုရင္ အခုဆို ဦးကိုနီ ဘယ္ေနရာမွာ ရွိေနမလဲ ဘယ္ရာထူးအထိ ရေနမလဲလို႔ စဥ္းစားႀကည့္မိပါ ေသးတယ္။

    သူဟာ ဘာသာေရး သည္းညီးမခံႏိုင္တဲ႔ ကိစၥရပ္ေတြနဲ႔ တပ္မေတာ္သားေတြ လႊတ္ေတာ္ထဲမွာ ၂၅ ရာခိုင္ႏႈန္း ဝင္ထိုင္တဲ႔ ကိစၥရပ္ေတြ အပါအဝင္ ျပႆနာမ်ားတဲ႔ ကိစၥရပ္ေတြမွာ သူအလုပ္လုပ္ေပးခဲ႔ပါတယ္။

    သူေတာ္ေတာ္ တာဝန္ေႀကပါတယ္။

    အဲဒီအခ်ိန္ လႊတ္ေတာ္ထဲမွာလည္း မြတ္စလင္ ကိုယ္စားျပဳ မဲ႔အသံ တစ္ေယာက္မွ မရွိေသးဘူး။

    သူ အဲဒါကိုလည္း မေမ့ထားပါဘူး ။ သူ အဲဒီအတြက္နဲ႔ အန္အလ္ဒီထဲမွာ အလုပ္လုပ္ဖို႔ က်န္ေနခဲ႔တာလည္း ျဖစ္ပါတယ္။

    သူဟာ သူ႔ရဲ႕ ေနညိဳခ်ိန္ရက္ေတြမတိုက္ခင္အထိ ဒီကိစၥ တစ္ခု အေပါ ္မွာပဲ တစိုက္မတ္မတ္နဲ႔ လုပ္သြားခဲ႔တာ ျဖစ္တယ္။
    သူ႔ရဲ႔ေနာက္ဆံုးအခ်ိန္ ဇႏၷဝါရီလ ေနာက္ဆံုး ရသတၱပတ္ေတြ မွာေတာင္ ႏိုင္ငံသားျဖစ္မႈ႕ဆိုင္ရာ အေထာက္အထား ကိစၥ ရပ္နဲ႔ ပတ္သတ္ျပီး မြတ္စလင္ေခါင္းေဆာင္ေတြနဲ႔ လဝက အရာရွိႀကီးေတြအႀကား ေဆြးေႏြးပြဲေတြမွာ သူ တက္ေရာက္ ေဆြးေႏြးခဲ႔ပါေသးတယ္။ ။

    လူေတြကိုေတာ့ သတ္လို႔ရခ်င္ ရပါလိမ့္မယ္။ ဒါေပမဲ႔ အသံ ေတြကေတာ့ ရွင္က်န္ေနမွာ ျဖစ္ပါတယ္ ။

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