Salai Tin Maung Oo Memorial Day Observed
26 June 2010: Chin people throughout the world today paid tribute to their national hero and Burma’s student leader Salai Tin Maung Oo, marking the 34th anniversary of his assassination in Insein Prison by the military regime.
Former General Secretary of CLCC (Chin Literature and Culture Committee), Salai Tin Maung Oo, was secretly hanged to death at the age of 25 inside Burma’s notorious Insein Prison on 26 June 1976 by the Ne Win-led military regime.
He was given a capital sentence without any fair trial and lawyer for his political beliefs, selfless fight for democracy, justice and peace in Burma and leading anti-military protests, which are now well known as U Thant’s uprising and Shwedagon Strike in 1974 and 1975 respectively.
His cellmate, Dr. Za Hlei Thang, said in the interview conducted by the Chinworld Media: “The death of Salai Tin Maung Oo is a big loss to Burma as a whole and to the Chin people in particular. I very much respect him for his upright determination and being a prominent Burma’s student leader as a Chin national.”
“I believe the unity among the Chin people would have been much more advanced had he lived until today, and especially, our solidarity and closeness between plain and hill Chins would have improved. In addition, what the new generation could learn from him are his bravery, leadership skills and upright beliefs,” added a Chin medical doctor and MP, who is now in exile in the US.
The last words of Salai Tin Maung Oo to the executioners remain well remembered and are still echoing: “You [the military regime] can kill my body but you can never kill my beliefs and what I stood for. I will never kneel down to your military boots!”
Japan-based Tang Nang Lian Thang, the Assistant Secretary of CLCC while Salai Tin Maung Oo was its Secretary, expressed in the Chinworld interview: “I felt so honoured and proud of a Chin national being the leader of the universities students. Salai Tin Maung Oo was brave, frank, tolerant, and gifted in leadership. I believed that he was killed even more brutally due to his Chin identity and ethnicity.”
Salai Tin Maung Oo was once asked for making an apology to General Ne Win in exchange for clemency but his refusal followed a subsequent sentence at Insein Prison.
A ‘highflying hornbill’ flapping with ‘fighting peacocks’ as described by Salai Kipp Kho Lian, Salai Tin Maung Oo stood up for his dignity, determination and beliefs until his death.
Exiled Chin politician Pu Lian Uk, MP, said the unjust assassination of Salai Tin Maung Oo should not be forgotten by the Chin people for generations to come as his death was the highest racial discrimination practiced on the Chin people by these successive Burmese military regimes.
Born on November 9th, 1951 in the township of Taungoo to Asho-Chin parents, Salai U Hla Din and Mai Daw Hnin Myaing, Salai Tin Maung Oo spent his early schooldays in Thamaing.
Nowadays, a series of memorial services and demonstrations has been organised across the world by Burmese students and political activists in commemoration of Salai Tin Maung Oo. In his memory, an education centre was established in 2006 to provide free tuitions to Burmese refugee children in New Delhi, India.
Van Biak Thang