Ko Ni

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Ko Ni
Ko Ni.jpg
Native name
ကိုနီ (Burmese)
Born(1953-02-11)11 February 1953
Died29 January 2017(2017-01-29) (aged 63)
Cause of deathAssassination
EducationB.A. (1975), LL.B. (1976)[1][2]
Alma materRangoon Arts and Science University[1][2]
Years active1976–2017[2]
Known forWriter, legal advisor to the NLD
Spouse(s)Tin Tin Aye[1][2]
ChildrenYin Nwe Khaing[2]
Aye Thi Khaing
Thant Zin Oo
  • Sultan (father)
  • Halima Khin Hla[2] (mother)

Ko Ni (Burmese: ကိုနီ, pronounced [kò nì]; also known as U Ko Ni) (11 February 1953 – 29 January 2017) was a prominent Burmese lawyer and an expert on constitutional law.[3][4] He was assassinated in Yangon, Myanmar, on 29 January 2017.[5][6]

Early life[edit]

Ko Ni was born near Katha in Sagaing Division, Myanmar. A Burmese Muslim, his father was Sultan, a Muslim from India, and his mother was Khin Hla (also known as Halima),[1] a Burmese Buddhist.[7] His father had come to Burma in the early 1900s through his work with the British Indian Army. His mother herself had a Muslim father and a Buddhist mother.[7]


Ko Ni was a founder of Laurel Law Firm,[7] and a member of the International Bar Association, the Independent Lawyers' Association of Myanmar, and the Myanmar Writers and Journalists Association.[1]

Political career[edit]

He joined the National League for Democracy (NLD) officially on 8 October 2013, after being a legal advisor to Aung San Suu Kyi for many years before that.[1] He was credited with finding loopholes in the 2008 Constitution of Myanmar and in particular with creating the office of state counsellor, which enabled Aung San Suu Kyi to become the de facto head of government in 2016.[6] He advocated constitutional change in Myanmar,[7] believing that the 2008 Constitution, which was drafted by the military, should be replaced and not merely amended.[1] He wrote six books on human rights issues and democratic elections,[1] and was actively involved in the interfaith movement.[8] He also spoke out against the Myanmar nationality law that stripped the Muslim minority Rohingya of Burmese citizenship.[9]


Ko Ni was assassinated on 29 January 2017 at Yangon International Airport on his way back from attending a senior leadership program in Indonesia, studying democracy and conflict resolution,[9] with a delegation led by Pe Myint, the Union Minister for Information.[10][9][6]

Arrest and motives[edit]

Police arrested Kyi Lin, the gunman, shortly after the shooting.[11][4] The gunman had also shot a taxi driver who attempted to intervene.[12] Allegations emerged in social media that Kyaw Swe, the Minister of Home Affairs and former Commander of South-west Command in Pathein, Ayeyarwady Region had orchestrated the killing.[4] The assistant secretary of the Home Affairs Ministry, Maung Maung Myint, issued a statement on 1 February 2017, denying the allegations as "rumors."[4]


His funeral attracted thousands of mourners, regardless of religious affiliation.[7] Notably absent among the mourners was Aung San Suu Kyi.[4]


Senior NLD leader Tin Oo described Ko Ni's death as a "great loss for the country, for democratic forces and for us (the party)".[13] US Ambassador Scot Marciel said: "All I want to say is, of course we are all shocked and really sad. I knew Ko Ni and his commitment to his country and democracy."[6]

Amnesty International said the killing had "all the hallmarks of an assassination". It called for a thorough investigation into the death of a man it described as a "tireless human rights campaigner".[6]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Kyaw Phone Kyaw; Hein Ko Soe; Htun Khaing (31 January 2017). "Obituary: The 'irreplaceable' U Ko Ni". Frontier Myanmar. Retrieved 11 February 2017.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "Brief Biography of Lawyer U Ko Ni". Mizzima News (in Burmese). 29 January 2017. Retrieved 29 January 2017.
  3. ^ "Myanmar: Leading lawyer Ko Ni assassinated at Yangon airport". BBC News. 29 January 2017. Retrieved 29 January 2017.
  4. ^ a b c d e Moe, Wai; Ives, Mike; Nang, Saw (2 February 2017). "Brazen Killing of Myanmar Lawyer Came After He Sparred With Military". New York Times. Retrieved 5 February 2017.
  5. ^ "Myanmar's probe of lawyer's killing beset by leaks, confusion". Bangladesh News 24.com. Reuters. 5 February 2017. Retrieved 5 February 2017.
  6. ^ a b c d e "Ko Ni death: Thousands mourn shot Myanmar lawyer". BBC. 30 January 2017. Retrieved 5 February 2017.
  7. ^ a b c d e Crouch, Melissa (31 January 2017). "A personal tribute to U Ko Ni". New Mandala. Retrieved 31 January 2017.
  8. ^ Wai Moe (29 January 2017). "U Ko Ni, a Prominent Muslim Lawyer in Myanmar, Is Fatally Shot". The New York Times. Retrieved 29 January 2017.
  9. ^ a b c "An assassination rattles Myanmar". The Economist. 3 February 2017. Retrieved 3 February 2017.
  10. ^ Shwe Yee Saw Myint; Wa Lone (29 January 2017). "Myanmar ruling party lawyer shot dead at Yangon airport". Reuters UK. Retrieved 29 January 2017.
  11. ^ Nang, Saw; Mullany, Gerry (1 February 2017). "Myanmar Arrests 4 in Fatal Shooting of Prominent Rights Lawyer". New York Times. Retrieved 7 February 2017.
  12. ^ Mandhana, Niharika (12 April 2018). "A Murder Trial Rekindles Fears in Suu Kyi's Myanmar". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 13 April 2018.
  13. ^ Moe, Wai (30 January 2017). "Myanmar Says Gunman Killed Rights Lawyer to Undermine Stability". New York Times. Retrieved 17 February 2017.