Posts filed under 'Burma'

1985: Major Zin Mo, failed assassin

Add comment April 6th, 2016 Headsman

On this date in 1985, North Korean Major Zin Mo was hanged in Buma’s Insein prison.

Eighteen months earlier nearly to the day, a huge bomb ripped apart Rangoon’s monumental mausoleum tribute to martyred founding hero Aung San.

The bomb was meant for visiting South Korean president Chun Doo-hwan,* who planned to lay a wreath at the site. But the infernal machine detonated too early, sparing its target — though 21 others lost their lives, 17 of them Korean, including Foreign Minister Lee Beom-seok.

The ensuing manhunt turned up three North Korean commandos, each of whom had been detailed short-fused grenades to commit spectacular suicide to evade capture.

Zin Kee-Chu started pulling stuff out of his bag. First a pile of money came out and while the policemen were temporarily distracted by the cash he then pulled out a hand grenade and detonated right there.

Their hand grenades had short 1 second fuses unlike our M-36 hand grenades with the longer 4 seconds fuses. So the explosion was immediate and some policemen and Captain Zin Kee-Chu himself were killed there. (Source)

But Major Zin Mo survived his explosives, albeit with devastating injuries, and fellow-captain Kang Min Chul lacked the fortitude to make the suicide attempt at all. Under none-too-gentle interrogation, Zin Mo kept his mouth shut and accepted his secret execution for the People’s Republic. Zin Kee-Chu didn’t have any better stomach to hang for his country than to blow himself up for it; he didn’t hang and lived out his life in Burmese captivity, having apparently cut a deal to tell all in exchange for his life.

There’s a phenomenal firsthand retrospective on these events, liberally illustrated, here, written by a present-day Burmese exile who was in Rangoon on the day the mausoleum was bombed.

* Chun was the guy who emerged in charge after Korea’s intelligence chief bizarrely assassinated President Park Chung-hee in 1979.

On this day..

Entry Filed under: 20th Century,Assassins,Attempted Murder,Burma,Capital Punishment,Death Penalty,Execution,Hanged,History,Korea,Murder,North Korea,Notable for their Victims,Soldiers,Terrorists,Torture

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2013: Naw Kham, Mekong drug lord

1 comment March 1st, 2013 Headsman

Today in Kunming, China, Burmese drug lord Naw Kham was executed by lethal injection along with three of his associates.

Naw Kham (or Nor Kham), a Burmese Shan, ran a sizable gang of drug traffickers/paramilitaries/pirates, the Hawngleuk Militia, in the Golden Triangle.

In addition to heroin smuggling, this gang also shook down for protection money the many Chinese commercial shippers coming down the Mekong River, and wantonly raided shippers that held out on them. He was untouchable in his lawless zone (with the possible protection of Burmese military to boot) for more than a decade.

Times may have started passing Naw Kham by in the 2000s.*

China’s economic boom has driven more shipping, and a search for investment outlets for Chinese capital, both inevitably increasing its presence on the economically developing Mekong. Ultimately this had to come at Naw Kham’s expense.

He had hit Chinese shippers before to the annoyance of Beijing, but matters came to a head when the kingpin allegedly retaliated against the flouting of his “taxes” by massacring 13 Chinese sailors in 2011 on board two tightfisted merchantmen. (“Allegedly” because Naw Kham blamed the Thai military for this slaughter, and some people believe him.)

At any rate, China put the screws to the drug lord, not only pressuring Southeast Asian governments for his capture but directly hunting him with special forces. Early in 2012, Naw Kham was arrested and his gang broken up after a multinational manhunt; the leader was extradited from Laos to face Chinese justice with five of his associates.** The accused had little recourse but to throw themselves on the mercy of the court.

Executed with Naw Kham — and underscoring the multinational complexion of his outfit — were Hsang Kham (a Thai), Zha Xika (a Lao), and Yi Lai (stateless). The other two defendants received a suspended (reprieved) death sentence, and an eight-year prison term.


Naw Kham being led to an execution van on March 1, 2013. Two hours of footage of the “Mekong River murderers” walking their green mile was broadcast on CCTV News, although not the executions themselves.

The case isn’t entirely closed with his date’s executions, however. China is still pressuring Thailand to bring to book Thai troops whom China says colluded (at the very least) in the Mekong murders. The future direction of that investigation is quite unclear.

* China, Burma, Thailand, and Laos, inked a 2001 pact to regularize shipping on the Mekong. It contained no provision allowing for stateless narco-buccaneers.

** It’s noteworthy that this is a non-Chinese citizen being extradited to China for a crime not on Chinese soil.

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Entry Filed under: 21st Century,Burma,Capital Punishment,China,Common Criminals,Crime,Death Penalty,Drugs,Execution,History,Laos,Lethal Injection,Murder,Notable Jurisprudence,Organized Crime,Pirates,Ripped from the Headlines

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1943: Six POWs, inscribed on a ouija board

Add comment November 1st, 2010 Headsman

Here lie the remains of 3529270 Pte T Jackson Manch Reg. CQMS C Anderson FMSVF, A S H Justice USS Houston. 33271– Pte Mar- … here the letters had been eaten away. At the bottom of the board there were several more words which it was not possible to decipher but still discernible were the words

Executed 1/11/43

The WW2 People’s War is an online archive of wartime memories contributed by members of the public and gathered by the BBC. The archive can be found at bbc.co.uk/ww2peopleswar.

This date’s execution — contributed to WW2 People’s War by Chris Comer of Stockport Libraries on behalf of Arthur Lane — concerns six Commonwealth POWs who were shot for attempting to escape at Thambazayat, a prison camp in Burma.

They’re remembered by a fellow-prisoner from their time at the Thailand prison camp Chungkai, where the prisoners pulled off a memorable caper with a ouija board and some of their guards.


Chungkai War Cemetery, on the site of camp’s POW burials. (From Australian War Memorial)

These executions did not reshape history. But this story of a few men under the shadow of a senseless death has the spark of humanity that animates these pages. Read it in its entirety here: part 1 | part 2.

On this day..

Entry Filed under: 20th Century,Burma,Capital Punishment,Death Penalty,England,Execution,History,Japan,Mass Executions,No Formal Charge,Occupation and Colonialism,Shot,Soldiers,Torture,Wartime Executions

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1948: U Saw and the assassins of Aung San

1 comment May 8th, 2009 Headsman

On this date in 1948, Burma hanged six for a shocking assassination that haunts the country to this day.

The previous summer — specifically, at 10:37 a.m. on July 19th — independence hero/proto-head of state Aung San and six members of his cabinet had been massacred by gunmen

The trail quickly led back to rival pol U Saw, himself a former Prime Minister of under British colonial rule.

U Saw had once defended in court the hero of a peasant revolt that the British had quelled with some difficulty. His own maneuverings were heretofore of a more slippery character, having negotiated with the British government early in World War II for independent dominion status — and then turned around and negotiated with the Japanese for consideration in their occupation government.

(The British caught him at his act, and locked him up for the rest of the war. Aung San — “hands … dyed in British and loyal Burmese blood,” Winston Churchill charged* — had also collaborated with the Japanese, who were viewed as liberators by many who had struggled against British domination.)

U Saw was executed with three collaborators in this plot this day at Insein prison, while two others were hanged at Rangoon prison.

But were the British the unindicted co-conspirators?

The damage done by the assassination, in any event, could not be undone with the noose. Aung San appeared to be the only person with sufficient stature to govern Burma effectively. After his death, the newly independent country suffered impotent governments, ethnic conflict, and eventually coups that have today brought to power one of the more repugnant military dictatorships in the world.

The current Burmese junta has for a generation held under house arrest the most recent person to democratically win (but not assume) the office of Prime Minister: Aung San’s daughter, Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.

* Churchill said this after Aung San’s assassination. See London Times, Nov. 6, 1947, p. 4.

On this day..

Entry Filed under: 20th Century,Assassins,Burma,Capital Punishment,Death Penalty,Execution,Famous,Hanged,History,Infamous,Lawyers,Mass Executions,Murder,Notable for their Victims,Politicians,Power

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