Contributor Bertil Lintner knew intimately the ruling National League for Democracy’s top legal advisor and his plan to enact a more democratic constitution
This photograph taken on November 10, 2013 shows Muslim lawyer Ko Ni delivering a public address
on amending Myanmar’s 2008 constitution, as senior National League for Democracy (NLD) party patron Tin Oo (R) listens, in Yangon. Thousands of mourners gathered on January 30, 2017 to bury Ko Ni, a top Muslim lawyer and adviser to Aung San Suu Kyi, who was gunned down outside Yangon airport in what the ruling party called a political assassination. / AFP PHOTO / Hong Sar
Four months since Ko Ni, one of Myanmar’s most prominent and talented lawyers, was assassinated in broad daylight outside Yangon’s airport and local authorities are not any closer to solving the case. The gunman, Kyi Lin, was apprehended only because furious taxi drivers parked outside the airport chased and apprehended him.
An antique smuggler from Mandalay, Kyi Lin had obviously been hired to kill on the fateful day of January 29. But the person who has been named as the possible mastermind of the plot, a former army officer known as Aung Win Khaing, vanished without a trace in the capital Naypyitaw after the killing — quite a feat given the military-built city’s vast, almost empty streets and scattered building complexes.
The ineptitude of the investigation has been matched only by misleading reports in the Western media. Nearly all major Western publications, including the Economist, the Financial Times, the New York Times and the Washington Post, dwelled on Ko Ni’s religion, Islam, as a probable motive.
The Economist called Ko Ni a “prominent defender of religious minorities”, while the Financial Times described him as “one of Myanmar’s most prominent Muslim voices.” The BBC even linked their account of the killing to its previous reports on the persecution of minority Muslim Rohingyas in western Rakhine State.
As an old friend and colleague, I was distraught to read those reports. I recalled John F. Kennedy, a Catholic of Irish descent, who famously said before he was elected president of the United States in 1960 that “I am not the Catholic candidate for president. I am the Democratic Party candidate for president who also happens to be a Catholic.”