Khant Nyar Hein: A 17-year-old fallen hero of the Spring Revolution who promised to give free treatment to the poor when he becomes a medical doctor

March 14th, 2021  •  Author:   Khant Nyar Hein (Yangon)  •  7 minute read
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For more than a month, people across Myanmar, including young people, have been protesting the military coup that took place on February 1. Since then, the military have violently disperse protesters and many people were killed by live ammunition. Students and youths involved in the protests were also arrested.

On March 14, several people were killed during protests against the military regime. Among them a 17-year-old medical student, Khant Nyar Hein, was shot dead in Tamwe Township in Yangon. He is a Chinese ethnic who was born in Myanmar. According to AAPP approved figures, 74 people were killed on March 14 alone.

Mother Kyu Kyu Thin said her son, who no longer lived until he became a doctor, said he would provide free medical care to the poor when he became a doctor.

Hein’s funeral was held on March 16, and BBC recorded a video interview of his families expressing their heartfelt condolences for their loss.

Hein’s mother, Daw Kyu Kyu Thin, explained how her son had joined the protests.

My son is very smart, kind and he is also very soft. He could not bear to see people get killed. He was incredibly sad at that time and cried. He said young people have not done anything and why do they have to die? That is why we must go out too.

Please don’t do it, you are too young for this. I tried to stop him many times.

His aunt, Daw Thandar Lwin, also said “Since the day the protests began, he wanted to go. But we do not want to let him go. He had never even taken a bus. So we drove him because we don’t trust him to go by himself. Later, we stopped sending him because of the shooting”.

His father, U Thein Zaw, recalls the day of the incident.

On that day, it was over 12pm so I assumed he wouldn’t go out anymore. The doors were also locked. He went upstairs. When I went upstairs to check on him, he was still using his phone.

So I was reassured that he would not leave anymore. I came back down stair and was working. I was fixing the doorknob for the backdoor. Just when I was focusing on the door he sneaked down, opened the door and left. I still did not know he was leaving. I just thought he was at home and continued working.

His parents went looking for him when they found out he has left the house. U Then Zaw said he learned that later that they were too late.

At first, I heard someone had fallen. There was a lot of noise on the road. I heard someone had fallen but I never thought he was my son. The roads were blocked at that time, so I finally returned home. While I was eating, there was a police car and an ambulance in front of my house. In fact, my son was in that car. Just in front of my house. I cannot bear this feeling

A young girl was next to him protecting with a shield at the time of the shooting. The girl was beaten and arrested by the military soldiers. The video of the incident immediately went viral online. But U Thein Zaw didn’t watch it.

I did not even wash my hands. I wanted to check who. I can’t stand this feeling. It hurts our hearts. We are from Burma, we are Chinese ethnic who were born in Burma. I went out and looked. If anything, I can help.

While I was outside looking, I saw an ambulance in front of my house. A police car was behind it. A woman was shouting why did you arrest my sister? In fact, the girl, who was arrested that time, was the one who was covering my son with armor when he got shot. She was born with hearing problem. She is deaf.

I have learned that she also lives in the ward behind ours. I did not watch the video until now because I cannot bear it. I cannot stand it because it was my son. At the time my son got shot I was around that area looking for him.

Daw Kyu Kyu Thin also described how her son was shot dead.

He did nothing. He was just holding a shield. There were only around 20 people. He was just protecting with a shield. They shot at my son, it hit through his head. When he fell on the ground the little girl was protecting him with a shield. Others were wanting to help too but they shot the gun nonstop. So people were not dear to come and help them.

After that they dragged my son like animals.

Hein’s grandmother, Daw Moe Moe Oo, told the BBC how she had found out about her grandson.

People showed me the picture. Auntie, look here, what kind of shirt was Khant Nyar wearing when he left. Aww, he wore that kind of thing. They asked isn’t this your grandson. Yes, this is my grandson with his backpack in his back. And blood underneath him. People around me knew that was my grandson. They didn’t want to tell me because I will suffer.

Daw Kyu Kyu Thin said her son did not like being called a Chinese, even though the family were Myanmar-born Chinese, but they want to be seen as a Burmese.

“Mama is also Chinese. Papa is also Chinese. And you’re also Chinese.” He didn’t like it. He said “No, I don’t like Chinese, I am not Chinese.” My son is a good kid. Now I have lost my son.

We were born in Burma, in Shan State. So in our minds, we are Burmese. I love Burma. I drink water from this land. I eat rice from this land. That’s why we see ourselves as Burmese Buddhists. We as Chinese in Burma are different from Chinese in China. Please separate us. The reason I can say that is because I have scarified my son to say this. We want you to know this. Please love us. Don’t discriminate us for being Chinese in Burma.

Daw Kyu Kyu Thin said just like Myanmar-born Chinese, Muslims should not be discriminated against in the same way.

Look at Muslims also, they cook food and send their food to share with us. They came one by one to help. Now when they found out my son was dead they came to my house, and they cried. That’s how it is. 

Both parents shared their feelings

about the loss of their son.

U Thein Zaw

My son died too young. I could lock him in the house. But how could I do that to the young people these days. They’re just fighting for their future independently. As a parent I cannot do that to his determination.

If I had been strict with him, I would not have been able to be his father. He would not consider me a father. But he loves me very much.

Daw Kyu Kyu Thin

I am very proud of my son for this. I also feel sadness and the pain. If only possible I would give my life in exchange of my son’s life. I have learned that they shot my son three times. But shoot me one hundred times. If my son would come back to life I am willing to get shot a hundred times. I will let my chest open.