Journalist Kyemon U Thaung Dies in US Exile
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Friday, May 24, 2019

Journalist Kyemon U Thaung Dies in US Exile

By MIN LWIN Friday, April 4, 2008


The well-known Burmese journalist Kyemon U Thaung, who wrote under the name Aung Bala, has died in hospital in the United States, at the age of 82.

His death was reported by the Thailand-based New Era journal, where he was chief editor. The journal, which is produced in the US, printed in Thailand and distributed clandestinely in Burma, said he passed away on Thursday in hospital in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

U Thaung
U Thaung was born on October 4, 1926, in Nyaung U Township, Mandalay Division, the son of Thar Phan and Daw Oak. His childhood name was Tin Maung.

U Thaung began his journalism career in 1947 as a reporter for The Burma Times in Rangoon, advancing rapidly to become chief editor in 1951, at the age of 25.

Six years later, in 1957, he started his own daily newspaper, Kyemon (The Mirror).

His open criticism of Gen Ne Win, who seized power in 1962, earned him a prison sentence in 1964. He and three of his editorial staff were imprisoned without trial, and Kyemon was nationalized.

After his release from prison in 1967, U Thaung was given a bureaucratic post in the Ministry of Information by Gen Ne Win. But his licence to write was revoked when he again criticized the dictator in his writings.  

After 10 years at the Ministry of Information, U Thaung was allowed to go to the United States to work as a feature writer for a small newspaper in Washington, Missouri, The Missourian.  However, his critical writings—in particular an article in Reader’s Digest about his three years in jail—led the Burmese authorities to revoke his passport. He was granted political asylum in the US.

U Thaung was an outspoken critic of military rule in Burma, writing numerous articles, essays and books, and taking part in pro-democracy meetings around the world. At his home in exile, he wrote some 30 books, under the penname Aung Bala, including the best-sellers “General Ne Win and His Executioners” (1990) and “A Journalist, a General and an Army in Burma” (1995).

U Thaung is survived by his wife, Tin Tin Win and five children, all of whom live in the US.

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