'I Had No Chance to Say Goodbye': Executed Myanmar Democracy Activist’s Mother Recalls Last Meeting

"I am proud that he sacrificed his life."

Listen to this article:

When she spoke to her son Ko Phyo Zeya Thaw on Friday evening at Yangon’s Insein Prison via video link, Daw Khin Win Tin did not think it was the last time she would see him.

At the time she was glad as she saw her son for the first time since his arrest in November.

In January Myanmar’s junta gave him a death sentence along with pro-democracy campaigner Ko Jimmy and two others for alleged armed resistance to military rule.

Ko Phyo Zeya Thaw, 41, a former two-term lawmaker from the National League for Democracy, was hanged in the prison on Saturday, without Daw Khin Win Tin’s knowledge.

The 76-year-old tells The Irrawaddy that she has been refused her son’s body for a funeral.

No warning for the family

This morning friends told me about reports in the newspapers. I went to the prison and the guards told me it was true. I said I would not leave the prison until my son’s execution was confirmed.

The prison authorities confirmed it. When I met him on Friday, the authorities said they would proceed as the regime courts have twice rejected a pardon. I asked if that means he would be executed soon and they said prison procedures meant they would inform us in advance. I asked why they did not say on Friday it was our last meeting.

No body for the funeral

I asked to collect his body but they refused because of prison procedures. I asked for his ashes but they also refused. I asked when he was executed so that I could perform a Buddhist funeral rite. They only said during the weekend.

Last meeting

When I met him on Friday evening at the prison via video I told him that I was happy as he seemed fine and in good health. He said he did not know when we could meet again and asked me to bring him books, dictionaries and reading glasses.

He asked me to leave money with the guards.

I thought he had time before the execution. I had no chance to say goodbye. I am proud that he sacrificed his life. I want to collect his body or ashes for a mausoleum.

This article was originally published on The Irrawaddy.