Mya Thwate Thwate Khaing was one of Myanmar coup’s first fatalities after she was shot in the head during a demonstration in the capital Naypyitaw. She has since become synonymous with the bloody fight to take power back from the military.
For Hein Yar Zar, the abrupt end to his girlfriend’s young life has filled him with resolve to keep protesting, even as he grieves.
The 21-year-old, grimaced as a tattoo artist etched onto his chest the smiling face of his first love, whose death has become a symbol of resistance against Myanmar’s junta, which toppled Myanmar’s democratically elected civilian government and arrested State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi.
“We had so many plans for this year. She died when her birthday was so near,” he told Agence France-Presse.
“I got a tattoo of her portrait as I’m missing her – it’s a memory for us.”
The February 01 coup knocked the country off its nascent path to a legitimate democracy after decades of military rule.
Two days after she was shot, Mya Thwate Thwate Khaing turned 20 while unconscious in a hospital bed – an image shared by anti-coup demonstrators as they rallied on the streets.
Days later, a 15-metre-long banner illustrating the moment she was hit was hung off a bridge in commercial hub Yangon, with some protesters describing her as a “martyr”.
Her death brought scathing global condemnation of the junta, with multiple countries imposing targeted sanctions on the generals.
Today, more than 50 people have died during protests as the security forces enforce an increasingly brutal crackdown on demonstrators.
“There was nobody like her,” said Hein YarZar.
He showed off an inking he had done years ago on his arm – “Together forever” – a poignant reminder of their youthful optimism.
On Feb 09, the couple were on the front lines of a massive Naypyitaw demonstration, although separated by the crowd of protesters.
“I sent her a message, ‘Please call me back’, because I had no credit on my phone, but she never did,” said Hein YarZar, who heard the news of her shooting from her sister.
“I stayed beside her at the hospital and I prayed every day that she would get better.”
The military initially said it was investigating her death, but state media later reported that an autopsy of her body showed the bullet was not fired by police officers.
Since her death, Hein YarZar’s life has been separated into moments filled with grief, anger and resolve.
Showing an earlier tattoo – “17.11.2015”, which commemorates their first date five years ago – he vowed to never forget her.
“She gave her life for this revolution – as her boyfriend, I will keep doing it for her,” he said.
“I will keep fighting for this revolution to win.” (Source: The Straits Times)