Burma’s Son *

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UNSG (United Nations Secretary General)

  • After the tragic death of Daj Hammarskjold, the United Nations Security Council selected U Thant (Permanent Representative of the Union of Burma, which co-founded the Non-aligned Movement) to succeed Hammarskjold as the Third UNSG and the first Asian UNSG.
  • USSR vetoed USA’s nominee for UNSG.
  • USA vetoed USSR’s proposal for Trioka (a three member committee from each of the Three Blocs).
  • U Thant retired after serving two terms as UNSG.

Post retirement

  • After retirement, U Thant started writing his memoirs but was interrupted by failing health.
  • His younger brother U Thaung was by his side in the final days, and helped bring U Thant’s body home.
  • The higher authorities were told explicitly or implicitly not to pay respect to U Thant’s body.
  • The Deputy Minister who paid respect to U Thant was dismissed effective immediately.
  • Most people expected a decent ceremony (if not a State Funeral befitting the Head of the World Organization), but they learned that U Thant’s body was to be placed at the Kyandaw Cemetery.
  • This led students to take U Thant’s body to the Main Campus and …
  • There were three dissenting votes by the student representatives for the higher authorities’ proposal to have U Thant buried in the Mausoleum (in Cantonment Park), and they lost by 8-3 margin.
  • The dark moments resulted in students being jailed or debarred, and some having to wait more months for their graduation ceremony.
  • One participant had already distributed invitation for the wedding, but ended with the loss of his freedom (for a few years) and his love.


  • Htein Win Sar Pay published a book about the “U Thant Ah Yay Ah Khin”.
  • The book contains rare photos (most of them recovered from an archive overseas).
    Many photos (that were in Burma) were destroyed “out of fear” for harassment / punishment.
  • Met Ko Htain Win at the 5th ILF (Irrawaddy Literary Festival) in Mandalay in November, 2019.
    He was promoting another book 8-8-88.

U Khin Maung Zaw (EC76) wrote :

The sad thing I discovered at my last visit to Myanmar in Nov/Dec 2018 was that the tomb of U Thant has been closed and in disrepair. The entrance was padlocked, the compound was unkempt.

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