Interview: ‘We Were Very Sorry For The Young People Who Sacrificed Their Lives’

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Dr. Soe Myat Thu’s wife Wai Wai Myint, also called Pan Thee, is one of two Myanmar pro-democracy activists who died late on Aug. 10 when they and three colleagues jumped from a building in Yangon, the country’s biggest city, to avoid capture by junta authorities. In an exclusive interview with RFA’s Myanmar Service, he describes how the death of another young woman protesting the Feb. 1 military coup that deposed the country’s elected government had inspired his previously apolitical wife to join the anti-junta movement and shares his reaction to her death. The interview has been edited for clarity and length.

My wife felt terribly sorry for the young protesters who died during the protests without committing any crimes. Both of us were very sorry for the young people who sacrificed their lives and my wife had helped however she could during later protests. One day, she left home and disappeared for a week. And after that, I got a telephone call from the Tamway police station telling me she had been arrested. I was shocked to realize that my wife was involved in these protests, and I went to the station to bail her out.

Though she had been working as a gem trader, she had a master’s degree in English. She was attending her final year class when we got married … [She and her fellow protesters] were just young people who played video games and held lengthy conversations. They were normal people.

Long ago, since before the wedding, she used to tell me she didn’t want to be cremated when she died and that she just wanted to be buried in a grave. So, I requested that the authorities allow me to bury her wherever they would agree to, even though I wanted to take her body back to [her home region]. But they refused my request and would not even let me have her ashes … They abused her body and wouldn’t allow her to become a martyr.

Translated by Khin Maung Nyane.