Writer Nan Nyunt Swe passed away at 87

Writer Nan Nyunt Swe, whose birth name is U Aung Thein, passed away at the age of 87 on Wednesday evening around 5 p.m. at his home in Yankin Township.

Nan Nyunt Swe was the father of Zarganar, 49, a famous comedian who was sentenced to a 45-years prison term in 2008 (later reduced to 35-years term in February 2009) for his role in delivering humanitarian assistance to the victims of Cyclon Nargis. He is serving his term in remote Myintkyina prison in Kachin State, over 900 miles from his family.

“I feel very sorry for him as he died while his son was away from home. He wrote many articles on Burmese culture”, the journalist Maung Wun Tha said.

Nan Nyunt Swe was born in 1923 to father U Htet and mother Daw Shwe Saing in Yathat village, Sinmyiswe Township, in the Pyi district of Pegu Division.

He served in the Information Department (Central Motion Picture) from 1948 to 1953 and joined the Ministry of Culture in 1953. He attended political training at Mingaladon Central Political Institute in 1967 and cadre training at Hmawbi Agricultural Training Institute in 1967.

He published the Metta Taythan poems in 1968, the Sasoman poems in 1978, compiled biographies and wrote articles on music in classics and pop.

Nan Nyunt Swe was political activist, and understood the risks of taking a stand. He once gave a speech at the home of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi before she herself was put under house arrest. This act of defiance and courage resulted in a ban on Nan Nyunt Swe by state censors despite the fact that most of his works were about Burmese literature and music.

His wife Daw Hla Kyi, aka writer Yuwaddy Kyi Oo, was also a vocal critic of the Burmese government. She competed in the 1990 general election and because of her continued participation in the movement, her works, which were mostly about Burmese culture and society, were continuously censored. When she passed away at the age of 83 in March last year, the family’s request to allow her son, Zarganar, to attend his mother’s funeral was denied by the authorities.

Nan Nyunt Swe’s strong sense of duty to the country was apparent when he was asked about his son’s Zarganar’s imprisonment by the Free Zarganar Campaign.

“I feel sorry for my son, it makes me sad and I worry about him. But I am proud of him, proud of what he has done, what he is fighting for. It is pride for our country,” he said.

Nan Nyunt Swe was cremated at Yeway cemetery at 11 a.m on Thursday. He is survived by sons Tay Za and Zarganar and two grandchildren.

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