Newspaper article International New York Times

U Aung Thaung, Official Accused of Abuses, Dies

Newspaper article International New York Times

U Aung Thaung, Official Accused of Abuses, Dies

Article excerpt

Mr. Aung Thaung was the country's industry minister from 1997 to 2011 and accused of manipulating that position to financially benefit himself, his family and aides.

U Aung Thaung, a senior Burmese politician who was implicated in violence against dissidents and accused of personal corruption, died on Thursday at a Singaporean hospital. He was 74.

The cause was complications from a stroke, said U Win Tin, an official in his party and the editor of its newspaper.

A military veteran who was close to U Than Shwe, who led Myanmar's governing junta from 1992 to 2011, Mr. Aung Thaung was the country's industry minister from 1997 to 2011. He was accused of manipulating that position to financially benefit himself, his family and aides. The Irrawaddy, a website and magazine dedicated to news of Myanmar, said he was believed to be one of the country's wealthiest men.

He was placed on a blacklist last year by the United States Treasury Department, which said he was undermining Myanmar's transition to democracy.

Mr. Aung Thaung was a leading figure in the Burmese junta's political wing, the Union Solidarity and Development Association, which was accused of a 2003 attack in northern Myanmar on a motorcade of pro-democracy figures including Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel Peace laureate who now leads the country's opposition.

Dozens of Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi's supporters from the National League for Democracy were reported to have been killed in the attack, and she was placed under house arrest that lasted until 2010. Mr. Aung Thaung denied Burmese dissidents' allegations that he had masterminded the assault.

"Serious allegations have been made against Aung Thaung both for his complicity in past crackdowns and for his abuse of government posts for personal and familial gain -- including in business ventures involving human rights abuses like land grabs and forced labor," John Sifton, Asia advocacy director of Human Rights Watch, told Reuters last year after the United States sanctions were announced. …

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