Prominent Muslim lawyer in Myanmar assassinated

Ko Ni, a prominent member of Myanmar's Muslim minority and legal adviser for Myanmar's ruling National League for Democracy, is seen during an interview in Yangon on January 13, 2016. (Phyo Thiha Cho/Myanmar Now)
Updated 29 January 2017

Prominent Muslim lawyer in Myanmar assassinated

YANGON, Myanmar: A legal adviser for the National League for Democracy was assassinated at a Myanmar airport Sunday after returning from a trip overseas, the government said.
Ko Ni was the Supreme Court advocate for the NLD and a longstanding adviser to the country’s leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
The unidentified gunman made a close shot to the head as Ko Ni walked out of the arrival gate at Yangon’s airport, the Ministry of Information said in a video posted on state-run MRTV.
A friend of Ko Ni who witnessed the shooting said the suspected assassin also shot a taxi driver who tried to stop him from fleeing.
“As I stopped my car by the airport, that’s where I saw Ko Ni’s body lying on the walkway outside of the airport and I couldn’t believe that just happened,” said Thet Paing Soe, a friend and an NLD supporter. “Then as the shooter tried to run away, the police arrested him.”
Thet Paing Soe said a taxi driver known as Nay Win stopped the fleeing assassin but was shot. The taxi driver’s condition was not clear.
The Ministry of Information identified the suspect as Kyi Linn from Mandalay. The motive was not known.
Kyee Myint, a former chairman of the Myanmar Lawyer Network who has a close relationship with Ko Ni, also confirmed his death.
“It is a big loss for us that Ko Ni, our beloved friend, has been killed. He is the face of the democracy in our country and this is a big loss for us,” Kyee Myint added.
Calls to Suu Kyi’s office were not answered, and other leaders of the NLD were not reachable Sunday evening.
Ko Ni was Burmese and one of the NLD’s most prominent Muslim members. He criticized the party in 2015 for not putting up Muslim candidates in the general election. Myanmar is a mainly Buddhist country and anti-Muslim sentiments have increased in recent years following deadly violence in the western state of Rakhine home to many Rohingya Muslims.
As a practicing lawyer, Ko Ni had handled more than 900 criminal cases and more than 1,400 civil cases. He established the Laurel Law Firm with two other advocates in 1995.


Rohingya refugees running scared from coronvirus tests

Updated 35 sec ago

Rohingya refugees running scared from coronvirus tests

COX’S BAZAAR: Rohingya refugees infected with coronavirus are fleeing quarantine in their Bangladesh camps because they fear being transferred to an isolated island in the Bay of Bengal, community leaders said Thursday.
At least two infected refugees have gone missing since testing positive for the virus after the first COVID-19 death was reported Tuesday, they said.
About one million Rohingya — most of whom fled a military crackdown in Myanmar in 2017 — are packed into camps along the Bangladesh border, and the coronavirus has become the latest cause of misery.
Aid agencies have long warned that the virus could cause chaos in the overcrowded camps, where social distancing is virtually impossible.
So far only 29 infections have been detected, although 16,000 Rohingya are in quarantine zones within the camps.
It was not immediately clear how many tests have been conducted in the camps, but a senior health official said two people who proved positive had “fled the isolation hospital.”
He added that only 20 refugees agreed to be tested in the past two days because they believe those infected will be sent to Bhashan Char island in the Bay of Bengal.
“It has created mass panic,” Nurul Islam, a community leader, told AFP.
Bangladesh authorities have long wanted to establish a camp for 100,000 people on the isolated island, and have already sent 306 Rohingya there.
“The Rohingya are petrified,” the health official told AFP on condition of anonymity.
“We have told them they won’t be sent anywhere.”
Some 500 isolation beds have been prepared in the camps, but most are empty because so few confirmed cases have been found, according to the official.
The first Rohingya fatality from the coronavirus was announced only Tuesday, and health officials say they desperately need to increase testing to see how widespread the virus may be.
But Khalilur Rahman Khan, the government administrator of one camp block, said doctors told him refugees were reluctant to participate.
Several Rohingya leaders said the transfer of the 306 refugees to Bhashan Char had sparked rumors that anyone with coronavirus would be sent to join them.
“People are scared to go for virus tests,” said Abu Zaman, a community leader.
Mohammad Shafi, a camp neighbor of the refugee whose death was announced Tuesday, said people who had coronavirus symptoms such as fever and aches insisted they only had seasonal flu.
“I tried to reassure them that this a curable disease and most people will recover, but many don’t believe it,” he said.