Saturday, June 15, 2013

Myanmars ex Spy Chief opens an Art Gallery

See the location on Yangon Art Gallery Google Map

This is one of the unbelievable stories about the changing times in Myanmar: Former general Khin Nyunt, now in his mid-70s, has opened a contempory art gallery at 27 Nawaday Street in Mayangone township in Yangon. The former Military-Intelligence chief told The Myanmar Times at the opeing ceremony: “As I’m getting old now, I look forward to a peaceful life. I practise my religion and do community work, but it isn’t enough. I had this idea to invite artists to hang their paintings in my gallery to bring peace and delight,” the former leader said at the opening ceremony of Nawaday gallery.

Khin Nyunt "was (...) notorious for sending thousands of politicians, activists and monks to prison, a political persecutor virtually unrivaled in Burma’s five decades of oppressive junta rule", writes "In 1988, he was among a military coterie that dispatched soldiers to deal with student-led pro-democracy protesters — a ruthless crackdown that stands in history as Burma’s Tiananmen massacre. His nickname? The Prince of Evil or sometimes, for variation, the Prince of Darkness", adds Time World. In 2003 he was named Prime Minister of Burma, but a year later he was purged by then junta chief Than Shwe. He was charged with insubordination and corruption and sentenced to 44 years in jail. This was turned into house arrest. In January 2012 he was released during an amnesty.

Nawaday gallery lies in the garden of the residential compound where he spent the house arrest for seven years. To Khin Nyunt said: “I did many things [during military rule], as it was my duty for the country. It was a big burden. My life is free now and it is very different from the past."

Two small bungalows nearby sell Myanmar cultural artefacts, gold and silver embroidery and accessories - this gift shop is run by U Khin Nyunt’s wife, Daw Khin Win Shwe. And his son, Ye Naing Win, operates the open-air Nawaday Coffee Corner as a branch of Café Aroma. The garden is open from 9am to 9pm every day.

Read more:
The Yangon Heritage Walking Tour: See old Rangoon before too much ist lost
Shwedagon Pagoda Impressions
Yangon Hotel Picks
Yangon Restaurant Picks
Chinatown in Yangon: Temples and a Nightmarket full of flavours
Myanmars ex Spy Chief opens an Art Gallery
From Yangon a Sunset Cruise or by ferry to Twante

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