[Jakarta, LttW] Living as a minority in a society that openly opposes your existence is already an achievement by itself. U Ko Ni did more. Not only was he a Muslim legal adviser to Aung San Suu Kyi’s ruling National League for Democracy Party (NLD), he was also a prominent voice for Muslim rights in Myanmar, a Southeast Asian country also known as Burma.
On January 29th, 2017, Mr. Ko Ni, 65, was gunned down at Rangoon International Airport after returning from an official trip to Indonesia to discuss democracy and conflict resolution.
The following quotes draw a picture of Mr. Ko Ni’s stance and personality.
By THE IRRAWADDY, 30 January 2017
On Article 59(f), which bans anyone with a foreign spouse or children from becoming president:
“There is an informal way [to amend the constitution] in which we have to enact a special law to temporarily suspend the provision in 59(f). This law can be enacted by 51 percent of votes at the Union Parliament.” (Reuters, February 2, 2016). U Ko Ni made this comment before the NLD government came into office and before the new position of State Counselor was created in April 2016.
On controlling hate speech:
“Given the current circumstances in our country, it is very necessary to enact a law to see effective action on hate speech and discrimination.” (DVB, July 22, 2016)
On rescinding the repressive 1975 State Protection Law:
“Such a law is absolutely unnecessary for the current government’s multi-party democratic system.” (The Irrawaddy, 28 April, 2016).
On calls for reform of the centralized civil service under the ministry of Home Affairs:
“The control of General Administration Department on all the government procedures is contrary to the federal system and should be abolished.” (Myanmar Now, February 1, 2016).
On proposals to enact laws restricting interfaith marriage:
“The law seems to favor the protection of Buddhist women’s rights. What about women of other faiths? A law should cover everyone, and now it seems to totally neglect women from other religions living in the same country.” (The Irrawaddy, September 2, 2015)
On a proposal for an interfaith law that would promote the equal rights of all religions:
“There are two main purposes – one is to promote the aspect of living harmoniously among religions, and the second is to take effective action against those who try to disturb the status of harmony.”
“The government has the duty to act in the interest of all religions. They should not pay attention only to Buddhists but also to other religions, as the constitution says everyone has the right to religious freedom.” (Myanmar Times, May 20, 2016)
On avoiding discrimination in citizenship laws:
“If someone is born in Burma and lives there all their lives, we have to regard them as a citizen of Burma… It is harmful if people are divided into ‘classes.’” (The Irrawaddy, 12 May 2016)
On calls to ban the formation of a Myanmar Muslim Lawyers’ Association:
“I don’t understand why people criticize us when they hear the term ‘Muslim’. We don’t cause any trouble to others. We just want to give assistance to our Muslim minority people who have long suffered under military rule.” (Myanmar Times, 21 June 2016)
On bribery and corruption
“The problem is that corruption is still rampant in Myanmar despite the Anti-Corruption Law. There is corruption at each level of the [government] hierarchy. But punitive actions are rarely taken.” (The Irrawaddy, 9 April 2016)
Topics: Crime, Murder, National League for Democracy (NLD), Police
Original article: U Ko Ni: In His Own Words
Author: Garry Poluan
Garry Pawitandra Poluan was born and raised in Jakarta, Indonesia.