Top Myanmar telecom executive with military ties shot dead in Yangon

Top Myanmar telecom executive with military ties shot dead in Yangon

A top executive of Myanmar’s military-owned telecommunications company Mytel was shot dead in an attack outside his home in Yangon on Thursday that also left his wife seriously injured, RFA has learned.

Thein Aung, a retired navy major who served as Mytel’s chief financial officer, died instantly in the early morning attack on Tay Nu Yin Road as he and his wife left their house in Yangon’s Mayangone township, witnesses said.

“He was shot four times as he and his wife left their house in the morning at the 7th mile bus stop in Ward 7,” one township resident said.

Thein Aung’s wife Theint Aung Thu was injured in the attack and is receiving treatment at an area hospital, a press statement by Myanmar’s ruling State Administration Council, calling the killing of Thein Aung, 56, an attack by “an armed terrorist.”

Junta forces arrived shortly after the shooting and cordoned off the neighborhood.

No group has so far claimed responsibility for the shooting, and the shadow National Unity Government (NUG) set up to oppose rule by the country’s military, which overthrew civilian rule in a Feb. 1 coup, was unavailable for comment.

In addition to being an executive at Mytel, a joint venture between the military and Vietnamese Defense Ministry-owned Viettel, Thein Aung also served as the general manager of the conglomerate Myanmar Economic Corporation (MEC) and its subsidiary Star High Co., Ltd,, the online news outlet Myanmar Now reported.

The MEC was one of two big Myanmar military holding companies that were hit with sanctions by the United States and Britain last March to squeeze the junta that deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi and her elected government on Feb. 1 and had at the time killed nearly 300 people in fierce attacks on daily protests.

Rights groups and analysts quickly deplored the killing of Thein Aung, who was reportedly close to Gen. Maung Maung Kyaw, commander in chief of the country’s Air Force and Admiral Moe Aung, commander in chief of the Navy.

“The targeted killing of an executive of a company is something that cannot be condoned from a human rights perspective,” Phil Robertson—Asia division director for New York-based Human Rights Watch—told RFA Thursday.

“Obviously, this person was close to the military. But such tactics—assassinating a man while he is out on a walk with his wife—just show how bad the situation has become in Myanmar,” Robertson said.

Robertson noted that “ongoing abuses that are being perpetrated by the military and the police have radicalized people in a very significant way,” and that reaction to the violence was not surprising.

“But doing so in this way is just going to create more tit-for-tat violence that will make all the people of Burma suffer,” he said.

“[People] should not be able to decide who should live and who should die. This is only tribalism,” added Sai Kyi Zin Soe, a political and human rights analyst based in Yangon.

“But is has been nine months now since the military coup, and there has been no change. People feel suffocated, and more and more have been experiencing poverty and hardship. It is becoming harder to survive, and the state of security for everyone is in decline.”

The killing in Myanmar’s commercial hub and former capital comes a month after anti-junta forces claimed they had damaged or destroyed 120 telecom towers owned by Mytel in attacks across Myanmar between Sept. 4 and Oct 7.

Engineers have estimated the loss at 20 billion kyats (U.S. $10.3 million) in attacks a Mandalay anti-junta militia member told RFA were in retaliation for the military’s extrajudicial killings and indiscriminate arrests and torture of pro-democracy civilians.

“Mytel makes money that benefits the military, and the latter buys weapons with that money, so if we attack Mytel, we would block the flow of money,” the fighter told RFA last month.

Reported by RFA’s Myanmar Service. Translated by Kyaw Min Htun. Written in English by Richard Finney.

Source: RFA/Benar News

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