Chit Bo Bo Nyein: He dreamed of football fame, but died on junta’s day of shame

April 2nd, 2021  •  Author:   Chit Bo Bo Nyein (Yangon)  •  5 minute read
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A passionate footballer, Chit Bo Bo Nyein (center) abandoned the game he loved to join the struggle against military rule

 A passionate footballer, Chit Bo Bo Nyein (center) abandoned the game he loved to join the struggle against military rule

By Myanmar Now

On March 27—the day that Myanmar’s military calls Armed Forces Day, but which the rest of the country refers to as Anti-Fascist Resistance Day—he was the first to fall.

Chit Bo Bo Nyein, 21, a young man whose abiding passion before the February 1 coup was football, now wanted nothing more than to see the end of military rule in his country. And in the end, he gave his life to this struggle.

Early on the day of his death, he joined a large group of young protesters in Ywarma Lal, a ward in Yangon’s Insein township, as they marched in a show of resistance to the military takeover that had dashed the hopes of their generation.

But as they approached a barricade set up by the protesters themselves, they were ambushed by about a dozen soldiers who were there waiting for them. As soon as they were within sight, the soldiers opened fire, and the crowd scattered.

Most managed to escape. Two others were hit, including a 14-year-old boy who required abdominal surgery, but Chit Bo Bo Nyein was the only one to die in that first volley of gunfire that marked the start of the junta’s day of shame.

Before the day was over, more than 150 others around the country would be dead, as regime forces reveled in an orgy of violence against unarmed civilians.

A proud legacy

Chit Bo Bo Nyein, who was also known as Ar Yar Yar, died at around 8:30am this past Saturday, his brother, Aung Ko Ko Zaw, told Myanmar Now.

The bullet that killed him had already hit another man of about the same age before it struck him on the right side of his body and went through his ribs, ending his short life.

“They set their guns on the sandbags put up by the protesters, aimed carefully at the people, and shot,” Aung Ko Ko Zaw said, describing how his brother was murdered in cold blood.

“I’m very sad that my brother died, but I’m also proud of him for giving his life in this way,” he added.

Chit Bo Bo Nyein was the fourth of five siblings in the family. Five years ago, at the age of 15, he discovered his calling in life: to become a world-class footballer like his hero, Paul Pogba, a midfielder for the Premier League club Manchester United.

“He loved playing like Pogba. He impersonated Pogba’s style, even his hairstyle. There are photos of him. He was very dynamic,” Aung Ko Ko Zaw said.

His dream of becoming Myanmar’s Pogba became an obsession that eclipsed every other interest, including his education. But it also led to athletic success, earning him a position as a midfield player on the Hantharwady United U21 football team. Like his idol, he also served as the captain of his team.

His death was a great loss not only for his team, but also for the future of football in Myanmar, said Chit Ko Ko, a trainer for Hantharwady United.

Unbearable loss

Chit Bo Bo Nyein always wanted to do his country proud by restoring it to its former greatness in a sport that he lived for. The national team was once one of the strongest in Asia, but half a century of military rule had reduced it, like virtually every other aspect of life in Myanmar, to a shadow of its past glory.

While the junta, in the company of dignitaries from the handful of countries that haven’t condemned its savage treatment of Myanmar’s citizens, celebrated its own exalted self-image on March 27, its troops disgraced the country once again with depraved displays of cruelty.

The day before, the regime warned protesters that they were “in danger of getting shot to the head” like so many others killed in this cowardly fashion in the preceding weeks.

Despite this, however, protesters like Chit Bo Bo Nyein turned out in their tens of thousands around the country to defy the junta’s attempts to terrorize them into submission. In the end, then, it was left to ordinary people to redeem the nation from the stain of the regime’s cowardice.

Two months into its reign of terror, the regime has murdered at least 500 people. Some, including children, have been gunned down in their own homes by junta forces intent on inflicting as much suffering as possible on an unyielding population.

For Aung Ko Ko Zaw, whose brother willingly gave his life to the cause of returning power to the country’s people, the mounting death toll has become almost unbearable.

“I shake with rage when I see them,” he said of the soldiers who have stolen the lives of so many innocent civilians.

“The trouble is that we are in no position to retaliate. I just pray that they will lose as quickly as possible. It’s not just about my brother’s life. I hate to see anybody die at the hands of people like that.”

Burmese version.

Original post: Myanmar Now