Ye Htut, the last remaining member of Burma’s revered 30 Comrades, passed away peacefully at the Thuka Kabar Special Clinic in Rangoon on 27 November, aged 92.
The 30 Comrades were trained in Japan to fight against British rule during World War II. Among them were Ne Win, who went on to be a military dictator; and Aung San, who was the architect of Burmese independence and father of Aung San Suu Kyi.
Ye Htut was born in Rangoon’s Tamwe township on 25 February 1922 to Bo Lwin and Saw Shin. His name at birth was Aung Thein. He graduated from Kandawlay Municipal School where he made a name for himself as a protest organiser and students’ union leader between 1938-40.
Recruited as one of the 30 Comrades, Ye Htut left for military training in Japan on 13 April 1941. He was appointed commander of the Burma Independence Army’s 3rd Brigade, then 1st Brigade commander in the Burma Defence Army, before being made director of the General Administration Department of the Burmese Army in 1944-45.
After fighting the British and their allies, Ye Htut and the Burmese Army then took up arms against the Japanese occupiers.
After the war, he became a member of the Leftist Unity Council and went underground with his unit in 1948. He was involved in armed struggle once again as a leading figure in the Burma Communist Party between 1951 and 1963.
Ye Htut became an advisor to the Burma Socialist Programme Party in 1964, and was a member of the Constitution Drafting Commission in 1973. He was purged from office in 1974.
During his long military career, Ye Htut was awarded the Medal for Gallantry (second class), the Medal for Revolution, the Medal for Independence, Mawgunwin (first class) and Naingngan Gonyi (first class).