Daw Myint Myint Kyi, 62, runs a small parikkara (monk utensil) shop out of the front room of her ground floor flat and is a devout Buddhist. It was her strong faith that saw her through 1992: a year of unimaginable terror.
“At times, I even wanted to kill myself,” she told The Myanmar Times in a recent interview. “The only thing that kept me alive was that I knew I must save my son at all costs.”
After 20 years, the story can finally be told.
Her youngest son Bo Bo was involved in the 1988 uprising as a 14-year-old ninth-grader and soon after fled across the border to join the Northern Burma branch of the armed student group, All Burma Students’ Democratic Front (ABSDF-NB), based just inside Myanmar near Sama, a border town with China. The camp was in a Kachin Independence Army-controlled area and inaccessible from the Myanmar side. The only possible route was to cross from Muse to Ruili on the China side of the border in northern Shan State, where supporters and members of the ABSDF lived, and re-enter Myanmar further north with their guidance.
In early 1992, U Maung Maung of Mandalay – an older brother of one of Bo Bo’s colleagues – heard disquieting news about conditions at the ABSDF camp and had managed to visit. (See related story).
He learned that his brother, Nyi Nyi, was among the students that had been accused of being officers of Military Intelligence (MI), arrested and tortured in order to extract confessions. On February 12, 1992, 15 ABSDF (NB) members-turned-prisoners, including Htun Aung Kyaw, a former “chairman” of the group, were executed. In a camp of about 300, more than 100 were accused of working for MI.
Bo Bo, who went across the border at barely 15 years of age, was accused of being an MI captain.