Burmese Prime Minister Soe Win dies

Oct 15, 2007 (DVB), Burmese Prime Minister general Soe Win died on 12 October at the Defence Services General Hospital in Mingaladon Township, according to an article in the state media.

His funeral was held at the Mingaladon War Cemetery on 14 October at 2pm and was attended by junta leader senior general Than Shwe and other senior leaders of the military regime, as well as foreign government envoys and resident United Nations representatives.

Soe Win had been suffering from leukaemia and had received treatment in Singapore for two months before returning to Burma in May.

An announcement in the state-run New Light of Myanmar on 13 October also proclaimed a period of official mourning to be observed for three days from 12 to 14 October during which the national flag should be flown at half mast.

However, many people did not accept this mark of respect for Soe Win, nicknamed "the Depayin Butcher" by the opposition for his part in the 2003 Depayin massacre in which dozens were killed.

"A lot of people dislike Soe Win so much that Peace and Development Councils in some wards [in Rangoon] even refused to fly flags at half mast at their offices. Our government has not marked the anniversary of Martyrs' Day on 19 July for a very long time; instead they are making this murderer’s death so important," said a Rangoon resident.

U Myint Thein, spokesperson for the National Council of the Union of Burma, also spoke out against the honour given to Soe Win.

"Soe Win is a murderer and a criminal who brutally killed people in Depayin and the whole world knows that…. There are people who were thrown into prison by Soe Win and still remain there after they were attacked in Depayin…. Soe Win is a criminal and he should not be honoured as a leader of our country. I cannot agree with this," he said.

In the South Korean capital Seoul yesterday morning, about 50 Burmese democracy activists from different ethnic backgrounds gathered in front of the Burmese government’s embassy, where Burmese flags flew at half mast, to show they were not sorry to hear of the death of the prime minister.

U Maung Maung Lwin, deputy chairman of the NLD-Liberated Area in Korea, said people resented the disparity between the honouring of Soe Win and the treatment of those who took part in recent demonstrations in Burma.

"[The government] did not show any sadness for the monks, students and civilians who were murdered with extreme brutality but they are raising flags at half mast at their embassy now over the death of the murderer Soe Win, the butcher who led the Depayin massacre [in 2003] and who killed young students back in 1988. It is our goal to see this evil military government fall."

Reporting by DVB

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