Killing of lawyer U Ko Ni must be promptly and impartially investigated

It is with great sadness that the ICJ has learned of Lawyer U Ko Ni’s death at Yangon International Airport today.

An armed man in the crowded airport reportedly shot him in the head at close range, along with U Nay Win a taxi driver who had tried to intervene.

The suspect was reportedly apprehended at the scene.

The ICJ stresses the need for a prompt, thorough and impartial investigation into the killing.

“It is vital that in the current climate of inter-religious tension that the rule of law is seen to prevail and for those responsible to be held criminally accountable,” said Sam Zarifi, the ICJ’s Asia-Pacific Regional Director.

“We await the results of the ongoing investigation,” he added.

U Ko Ni (photo) was a prominent and well-respected legal figure in Myanmar.

He was a respected veteran of the democracy movement, an adviser to the National League for Democracy and Aung Sang Su Kyi.

He was a rare outspoken voice against discrimination and had recently advocated for laws against hate speech and for inter-communal harmony.

U Ko Ni was returning from an official visit to Indonesia with senior Buddhist and Muslim figures aimed at sharing experiences and overcoming inter-religious tensions when the attack occurred.

U Ko Ni was also a patron of the recently formed Myanmar Muslim Lawyers Association.

He was an outspoken critic of the “race and religion laws”, a legislative package of four bills supported by hardline nationalists, as well as a champion of religious tolerance.

“U Ko Ni was a principled lawyer. He was committed to protecting human rights, preventing hate crimes and the rule of law in Myanmar, and his presence as leading advocate will be deeply missed,” Zarifi added.

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