Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Is TRF Implicating Tatmadaw In Ko Ni’s Assasination?

TRF's Burmese Senior Journalist Swe Win asking the Interior
Minister whether Ma-Ba-Tha monks ordered the hit on Ko Ni.
Thompson Reuters Foundation (TRF) based in London is one of the world’s largest media organizations and right now its Burmese subsidy “Myanmar Now” a largely unknown online activist journal based in Yangon has been at odd with Burmese Military (Tatmadaw) for its recent news articles indirectly blaming Tatmadaw for the assassination of Muslim leader Ko Ni at Yangon International Airport on January-29 just last month.

In a series of articles TRF’s Myanmar Now is implicating Tatmadaw in Ko Ni’s hit by slowly building a circumstantial case based on some facts not disclosed by the Myanmar Government, loose interviews with senior NLD government and parliament members, and commentaries by some well-known Burmese figures.

TRF’s first salvo against Tatmadaw came out on February-16 by the article displaying the Black Toyota Harrier (registration YGN 9C-6725) supposedly parking right in front of the Rangoon house of fugitive Lt. Colonel Aung Win Khaing on February-10 more than a week after the arrest of his elder brother Captain Aung Win Zaw on January-30.

Just one day before that TRF’s article was published, on February-15 NLD Government announced the definitive involvement of alleged mastermind Lt. Col. Aung Win Khaing in Ko Ni’s killing.

By the February-16 article TRF is basically disclosing that the alleged mastermind and supposed fugitive Lt. Col. Aung Win Khaing had been just hanging around in Rangoon till February-10 as if nothing bad was going to happen to him even though his two accomplices (killer Kyi Lin and controller Aung Win Zaw) were already in police custody and freely talking to the police investigators.

Following is the direct translation of that TRF’s first article on 16 February 2017:

Yangon (Myanmar Now): How much time did Lt. Col. Aung Win Khaing who was declared by NLD government on February-15 as the alleged mastermind and fugitive in Muslim lawyer Ko Ni’s killing really have for fleeing his Yangon house and escaping from the police?

Aung Win Khaing’s Black Toyota Harrier with Rego No. YGN 9C-6725 was found parked right in front of his own house on February-10. And the same car being driven by Aung Win Khaing himself at Yangon International Airport on January 29 the date of Ko Ni’s murder was featured clearly in the February-15 Press Release of Myanmar President Office.

According to some neighbours only Aung Win Khaing did drive his car as his wife does not drive and his two sons are not 18 yet and thus not able to get a driver license. Aung Win Khaing, his wife, and two sons aged 17 and 12 live in the house on Mandine St of Wazo Ward in Dawbone Township.

According to the officials from the army-controlled Interior Ministry Lt. Colonel Aung Win Khaing was the alleged mastermind and his elder brother Captain Aung Win Zaw had hired the killer convict Kyi Linn for the planned hit on Ko Ni at Yangon International Airport on January-29.

Gunman Kyi Linn was captured near the crime scene at the airport and Captain Aung Win Zaw was also arrested next day and now being interrogated. Nearly one week after those news were officially announced Myanmar Now found the car of now-alleged-mastermind Lt. Col. Aung Win Khaing parked nicely at right in front of his house in Rangoon.

What TRF’s Myanmar Now was implying in this article was that Aung Win Khaing seemed to have a peace of mind and not fleeing even after his elder brother was arrested as if he knew he would be protected by mighty and powerful (from the Tatmadaw).

By the following February-20 article TRF is basically claiming that the NLD-government has privately acknowledged the clear and present danger to their officials from the high and mighty of the Tatmadaw by the public assassination of the most prominent Muslim leader Ko Ni.

Following is the direct translation of that TRF’s second article on 20 February 2017:

Nay-Pyi-Daw (Myanmar Now): It has been already three weeks since the NLD’s Legal Advisor and a High-Court lawyer U Ko Ni was assassinated (at Yangon International Airport). The crime is being investigated by the Army and the Police and the news and facts from them are being released slowly by the President Office and the Information Ministry.

Killer's gun was just a few inches away from victim's head.
But the public seem to be frustratingly unsatisfied with the handling of case and also the slow release of news by the authorities. For example it took more than two weeks for the President Office to release the news of Lt. Col. Aung Win Khaing’s suspected involvement in Ko Ni’s assassination only on February-15 while his elder brother and the second suspect Captain Aung Win Zaw was already captured in the early morning of January-30 just 12 hours after the crime.

By the army-drawn 2008 Constitution Myanmar Police Force is under the Ministry of Interior which is controlled by the Tatmadaw. So Myanmar Now asked the NLD Information Minster Dr. Phe Myint the question that if not only the public but also the government’s own Information Ministry and even the President are all under the News-Blackout deliberately by the Tatmadaw and Interior Ministry.

Myanmar Now: Please tell us your feeling as a minister and also a citizen on the public killing of U Ko Ni?
Dr. Phe Myint: U Ko Ni was a very dear friend of me well before his murder. We were travelling together for a week to Indonesia and when we got back he farewelled to us at the Airport. Just a while later after we separated we were told he was assassinated. He was shot by a gunman. So we went and saw him lying dead in his blood. Of course we were shaken because he was a friend speaking to us just before.

Myanmar Now: Can you please tell us in details the whole thing from the airplane exit to him lying dead just outside on the kerb?
Dr. Phe Myint: When we left for Indonesia we all gathered at the VIP Hall to board the plane. But when we got back that day everyone got out on own arrangement. Somehow he was out through normal departure hall and we were through the VIP Hall. Then we were told gunshots were heard and when we asked we found out the killed were U Ko Ni and also a taxi driver. So Deputy-Interior-Minister Major-General Aung Soe and Deputy-Border-Affairs Minster Major-General Than Htut and I went there and found him dead.

Myanmar Now: The killing was done on a member of State Delegation and many people were suspicious of insider(s) tipping the killer. Airline, flight number, and exact arrival time all seemed to leak from the insider(s). Do you have any suspicion like that?
Dr. Phe Myint: I don’t think so. The trip was not a secret trip and there were so many on the trip. On very first day at the airport we even had a group photo. So many people knew about our trip and the killer(s) would not find it too difficult to discover our itinerary.

Myanmar Now: During the trip was the relationship between U Ko Ni and others Okay?
Dr. Phe Myint: Yes of course. We were all together 21 men and the relationship among us was warm and friendly. At the beginning most of us didn’t know each other too well. But after 4-5 days we were all laughing and joking and even pulling pranks.

Myanmar Now: Did U Ko Ni say anything remarkable during the week-long trip?
Dr. Phe Myint: You should know U Ko Ni and many other people knew him well too. He had strong interest in politics and also in legal affairs. He also said and wrote a lot on race and religion and conflicts. During the trip we met all sorts of people from both Indo Government and other organizations like Muslim groups. And they were discussing very strongly on what has been going on in our country. U Ko Ni also involved in most discussion and I could say that it was his strong or strange character.

Myanmar Now: Were the current troubles in Yakhine (Arakan) discussed?
Dr. Phe Myint: Yes of course, and all other affairs too. The main purpose of this trip was to study the Indonesia’s successful transformation to democracy from military dictatorship. At the beginning of that transformation period there were violent racial and religious conflicts happening in their Maluku Islands Group. The islands have equal numbers of Muslims and Christians and the racio-religious conflicts lasted 4-5 years there. So they told us about the race riots and how they finally solved the problems there. That was U Ko Ni’s pet topic and he discussed with them a lot on that.

Myanmar Now: Did U Ko Ni ever say anything about Muslims being brutally oppressed here in Myanmar to them Indonesian Muslims?
Dr. Phe Myint: We were on just a study mission and what we did was listen to them, ask question later on what we were not clear, and discuss some cases. That’s all. U Ko Ni also did not argue too much there but he was a type of person that he would thoroughly discuss with anyone he met there on whatever he strongly believed in.

Myanmar Now: Concerning this case we saw on Internet the news of killing and U Ko Ni’s photo on the front-page of your “Global New Light of Myanmar” news paper in the early morning of January-30. But when the print version of the newspaper came out later the whole report was on inside. Not on the front-page. Was it your own decision or the pressures from the President Office or the Interior Minsitry?
Dr. Phe Myint: I do not know what happened exactly. Our newspaper editors have a general guideline on placing what type of photos and what particular news on their front pages. But the details are usually decided by the editorial groups. I sometimes check the newspapers the night before. But I do not remember if I did that particular night.

Myanmar Now: Was U Ko Ni killed because of his politics or race or religion or a personal affair, what do you know now?
Dr. Phe Myint: This type of crime is very complex. We could assume all sorts of things. One thing very clear to me is they could have killed him anywhere in Yangon as he was the type of famous man going all over the place and attending so many meetings here and there. But they deliberately chose the Airport to kill him. And videoed it and released it almost immediately on Facebook. They clearly wanted to frighten our people. They wanted them to be insecure and be fearful for their own safety to create instability in the country. In my opinion it will not be easy to find the real culprits behind the killers.

Myanmar Now: Do you believe that all culprits involved in U Ko Ni’s killing will eventually be brought to justice and punished accordingly?
Dr. Phe Myint: It will be too difficult to bring all of them to justice. Just look at the assassination of our General Aung San on 19 July1947. We caught all the assasins. And we caught the so-called mastermind U Saw and all of them were punished severely. But still we have been saying and writing about the conspiracy theories of British involvement and others. I do not think it will be easy to prove these theories as the crime chain was broken after U Saw and his henchmen were caught and hanged. In U Ko Ni’s case the killer and the mastermind were already caught and if they don’t talk the case will end like General Aung San’s case.

What TRF’s Myanmar Now and NLD’s Information Minister himself were implying in this article was that the actual killer and his so-called mastermind have already been caught and the mighty and powerful (from the Tatmadaw) who were real masterminds will never be caught like the British mastermind behind the assassination of General Aung San 70 years ago. The precedence we Burmese know so well from our sad and violent history.

By the following February-21 article TRF is basically disclosing that the Aung San Suu Kyi has been calmly handling the case with her mouth shut and all her people from the NLD Government and NLD-controlled Parliament too so that Tatmadaw will not be offended or pushed into doing some stupid things like staging a military coup or more assassinations.

Following is the direct translation of that TRF’s third article on 21 February 2017:

Yangon (Myanmar Now): The reason the Myanmar Parliament has not been applying pressure publicly on the NLD Government on the U Ko Ni’s case is just not to affect the ongoing reconciliation process between Tatmadaw and Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD), said U Khin Maung Win the Chair of People Hluttaw’s Justice & Legal Affairs Committee.

NLD party member U Khin Maung Win is also a member of People Parliament for Lan-ma-daw Township in Rangoon Division. During the interview with Myanmar Now in first week of February he told us about why the Parliament has not been discussing about the public murder of the most prominent Muslim leader and also a senior member of NLD (National League for Democracy).

Myanmar Now: Are there any motions or questions at the parliament on the ongoing investigation of U Ko Ni’s public murder?
U Khin Maung Win: Not yet so far. We haven’t done anything on the case as it could be seen as a biased-act. And our leader, you can call her State-Counsellor or Party-Chairman, has been very careful about avoiding unnecessary conflicts during present ongoing reconciliation process (with the Army). U Ko Ni did say openly whatever he wanted to say and his favourite topics (amending 2008 constitution, and the Race and Religion Protection Act) the Tatmadaw does not like them at all. So in this case we underlings should not say anything till our elders let us.

Myanmar Now: But U Ko Ni had supported NLD’s MPs so much on legal affairs and laws?
U Khin Maung Win: Yes he did and he was one of the reasons our NLD won the last election with a landslide victory. But we are not the only party in the Parliament as there are other political parties. If we over-react on this case just because our man was killed the reconciliation process could be disturbed. But I am not saying we will do nothing. Maybe we do something tomorrow or later even if we’ve done nothing so far on U Ko Ni’s murder.

Myanmar Now: Why aren’t the President Office and State Counsellor Office investigating the case themselves or ordering the High Court or Attorney-General Office to investigate?
U Khin Maung Win: They are doing it right now and that’s why we found out so much about the killers. Everything is being done secretly so far. Don’t worry too much. Our NLD elders are handling this case very carefully. That’s why the situation in country now is very stable because of their gentle handling of this high-profile murder case.

What TRF’s Myanmar Now and NLD’s senior MP himself were implying in this article was that a gentle and secret handling of the murder investigation was needed and also being done so that Tatmadaw will not be offended or pushed into doing some stupid things like staging a military coup or more assassinations of high-ranking NLD members like they did to Ko Ni.

By the following second February-21 article TRF is basically letting the public know their suspicion of Tatmadaw’s involvement and their concerns of the generals burying everything else and scapegoating the only two already arrested.

Following is the direct translation of that TRF’s fourth article on 21 February 2017:

Yangon (Myanmar Now): Some prominent people are already criticizing the NLD government that public confidence on the democratically-elected NLD government will weaken significantly if two culprits already captured only are eventually punished while the rest behind the murder are not investigated thoroughly and brought to justice.

One of those critics is the famous write Chit Oo Nyo who was also a close friend of late Ko Ni. “I don’t really like the fact that the alleged mastermind Lt. Col. Aung Win Khaing is still at large,” said Chit Oo Nyo.

“I am deeply worried that the case will end eventually with only those two already arrested. They will finally come out and say the rest of the criminal-chains are lost as the mastermind has disappeared, I am afraid. They should have released the photos of all the suspects earlier and given people opportunities to report them to police. But the authorities seem to be slowly releasing information for some unexplained reason!” added Chit Oo Nyo.

Chit Oo Nyo then let us know that he frequently met Ko Ni last four years and also his dear wife a lawyer had attended a law course taught by Ko Ni a prominent High Court lawyer. He also added that U Ko Ni knew army-drawn 2008 Constitution inside out and determined to get rid of it.

“Killing him in public right at the crowded International Airport was a well-planned act to frighten us the public by a group of really horrible people accustomed to committing violence all their lives,” said angrily the writer. He demanded the government to release all related information on the case as soon as and as truthfully as possible.

“Myanmar Lawyers Network” also publicly demanded on February-19 that the government must capture every culprit connected with Ko Ni’s murder ASAP and criticized the authorities for their slow investigation and also slower release of information to the public.

What TRF’s Myanmar Now was implying in this article was that they were deeply worried that the case will finally end with only two culprits as the scapegoats and all the big shots from the Tatmadaw would be left unpunished.

Why Are The Four Articles Not On The English Version Site?

All four Myanmar Now’s articles were allegedly written by Swe Win the Senior Journalist well known as a left-wing pro-Muslim activist since his junior journalist days in anti-Tatmadaw and anti-Buddhist-nationalist Irrawaddy the prominent Burmese-exile media based in Thailand.

He has also been collaborating with left-wing American journalists from the Left-leaning New York Times and Arab-Mulsim journalists from the Aljazeera from Islamist-controlled Qatar. Many one-sided anti-Burmese-Buddhist and pro-Muslim pieces from both New York Times and Aljazeera credited Swe Win openly.

Not only implicating the Tatmadaw in Ko Ni’s murder by his four Myanmar Now articles Swe Win also declared the possible involvement of Burmese Nationalist Buddhist monks from Ma-Ba-Tha (The Protectors of Race and Religion) by bluntly asking the Interior Minister Lt. General Kyaw Swe in the February-25 press briefing the following question: “The alleged master mind (former MIS Captain) Zeya Phyo has been so close to the Buddhist monks from Ma-Ba-Tha, maybe there is a possibility that the monks influenced or even ordered Zeya Phyo (to kill Ko Ni)?”

After the Minister's simple answer to him that our Buddhist monks do not kill because they are Buddhist monks Swe Win later posted on Facebook that the Minister's answer was extremely-ugly and as the minister controlling Myanmar Police Force he had no rights to answer along that line (without thoroughly investigating the Ma-Ba-Tha monks).

One unsettling fact about Swe Win’s four misleading Myanmar Now articles is that all four articles have not been translated to English and posted yet on the English Version site of TRF-subsidy Myanmar Now. Maybe Burmese staffs of TRF are deliberately not letting their English and American overseers working in the Yangon TRF office know what they are doing concerning Ko Ni’s murder.

Hopefully the Thompson Reuters Foundation (TRF) knows what their Burmese subsidy is doing such as deliberately misleading their readers into hating Burmese Army and also Nationalist Buddhist monks since Reuters is such a factual and strictly-neutral media organization a really rare one among such deeply-polarized media organizations bitterly-divided between the Left and Right or between Pro and Anti-Islam.