Top NLD official dies after contracting Covid-19 in junta custody

Nyan Win, a central executive committee member of the National League for Democracy (NLD) party, died at the Yangon General Hospital on Tuesday morning, party sources and a relative told Myanmar Now.

78-year-old Nyan Win was transferred from Insein Prison to the hospital accompanied by police on July 11 to receive emergency Covid-19 treatment. A prison official at that time told Myanmar Now that he was in critical condition because of his advanced age and underlying health issues.

“His blood oxygen levels were as high as 95 and 97 percent yesterday. But at around 4am this morning, his condition became critical at the intensive care unit. He passed away after really suffering,” a relative told Myanmar Now on Tuesday.

Nyan Win had pre-existing conditions, including diabetes and kidney problems, and had also received treatment for gastrointestinal bleeding before last year’s election.

He was detained by the military on February 1, the day of the coup. He was held at an interrogation centre for more than one month before being transferred to Insein Prison to face charges of incitement under Section 505b of the Penal Code, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners.

The relative of Nyan Win told Myanmar Now that the military is responsible for Nyan Win’s death and must be held accountable. 

“The military is the culprit of everything that has happened. Because they were so power-hungry, our country has had to go through such chaos,” the relative said.

“I am not saying this only on behalf of my family member,” the relative explained, referring to Nyan Win. “This is the situation the whole country is experiencing now. The military council must pay us back for what they have done.”

As new cases of Covid-19 spike with hundreds of suspected patients dying daily, NLD officials in hiding are concerned about the health condition of imprisoned party members and leaders. 

Another NLD senior official, Hanthar Myint, and ousted Yangon chief minister Phyo Min Thein also tested positive for the coronavirus recently and have been undergoing treatment in hospitals in Yangon.

Ei Shwe Zin Nyunt, secretary of the NLD’s central labour affairs committee, accused the military of intentionally allowing Nyan Win to die from the virus.

“As the third wave of Covid-19 is very severe, it will be hard for elderly people who are detained in prison to resist the disease. I believe [the military] did it on purpose,” she said.

In addition to being a central executive committee member of the NLD, Nyan Win served as a party spokesperson and a legal consultant for the party. 

He won a Lower House seat representing Paung Township’s Constituency 1 in Mon State during the 1990 elections. Trained as a lawyer, he represented Aung San Suu Kyi at trial before her release from house arrest in 2010. He was also a member of Myanmar’s Bar Council.

The NLD issued a statement following the news of Nyan Win’s death on Tuesday, saying that the party is saddened by his passing and would continue to fight for the fall of the dictatorship and for a federal democratic union.

Editor’s Note: This article was corrected on July 21 to state that Nyan Win was arrested on February 1. An earlier version said that he was arrested on February 21. We apologise for the error.

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