Soldiers arrest family of politician, 79, vowing to go out guns blazing against Tatmadaw

Mahn Johnny, at left. With Aung San Suu Kyi in a file photo at right. Photos: Dawkalu Network,
Mahn Johnny
Mahn Johnny, at left. With Aung San Suu Kyi in a file photo at right. Photos: Dawkalu Network, Mahn Johnny

Soldiers and police raided the home of a former high-ranking politician who took up arms against the junta, recently posing for photos with a huge-ass rifle.

Security forces placed under house arrest five family members of Mahn Johnny, who once headed the Ayeyarwaddy region as chief minister, after photos surfaced of him grinning in a military uniform with a rifle as large as himself.

Photo: Mahn Johnny
Photo: Mahn Johnny

The 79-year-old ethnic Karen national said he was undergoing training with Karen forces to join armed resistance to military rule. He’s one of the most senior former civilian politicians to join the resistance.

“A military coup is entirely unacceptable since it is a heinous crime. This injustice, in my opinion, must be combated,” he told Myanmar Now on Saturday. 

The Karen National Union, or KNU, is the political organization representing Myanmar’s ethnic Karen people. It’s armed wing, the Karen National Liberation Army, has resumed hostilities against the central government following the coup, nine years after it signed a ceasefire agreement.

Mahn was born in 1942 and studied at Bassein Regional College before working as a school teacher from 1965 to 1986.

He had been a founding member of ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy. Though he stepped down as Ayeyarwaddy’s chief minister three years ago due to health problems, he remained in the assembly and was reelected in November.

Mahn struck a noble posture, saying he was motivated to go out guns blazing for the people he represented.

“We’re going to die, too. Are we going to die doing a good thing? Or are we going to die with a bad name? This is all you’ve got to pick,” he said. “I’ve already decided how I’m going to feel the beauty of the sunset with my final breath. I dare to state that I will never betray the people who have chosen me.”

He said he could couldn’t even hold a pen just a few months ago but was now exercising and running “as though all diseases had vanished.”

The KNU says it has gotten into 15 recent firefights with the Tatmadaw, as Myanmar’s military is called, killing 11 and injuring nine.

Since the Feb. 1 coup, more than 1,000 people have died and nearly 8,000 arrested, according to monitors.

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