Mya Thwate Thwate Khaing became a rallying point for hundreds of thousands of protesters in cities across Myanmar when the video went viral that she was shot in the head by security forces while protesting against a military coup.
Mya Thwate Thwate Khaing died on Friday while in intensive care at a hospital in the capital Naypyitaw, where she had been in custody for ten days since she was shot by protesting police.
The first known serious death in Myanmar’s biggest protests in over a decade had sparked anger across the country and escalated into growing rage over the military’s February 1 overthrow of Aung San Suu Kyi’s government, three months after her party won a second consecutive election in a landslide.
“I feel very sorry for her. I’m more determined to get out on the streets, says 24-year-old Nay Lin Htet during a protest in Yangon.
“I feel proud of her and I will take to the streets until we reach our goal for her. I do not care about my safety. ”
Many members of the anti-riot movement that has been gathering for two weeks in Myanmar are of the same generation Z as Mya Thwate Thwate Khaing, a grocery store worker who was a teenager when she was shot and turned 20 when she was in intensive care.
The shot triggered memories of the bloody repression of insurgency against half a century of brutal military rule, in which thousands were killed and many more were imprisoned for several years.
She is one of two reported deaths in connection with the protest movement, the other a police officer who the military said died of injuries on Monday.
Within hours of her shooting, videos and photos went viral on social media at the time. Mya Thwate Thwate Khaing, wearing a motorcycle helmet and red T-shirt, sank to the ground with her back to the police, who doused crowds with water cannons.
In the ensuing days, protesters marched with tall images of her, with placards demanding an end to the dictatorship.
The day after her shooting, they hung the first of several large portraits of her from a bridge in central Yangon, with a banner that reads: “Let us oppose the dictator who kills the people.”
“Shooting a peaceful protester with real bullets is such an unforgivable thing in our society,” said a doctor who was part of the team that gave her the first treatment and responded to her death.
The doctor, who asked to remain anonymous for security reasons, said that Mya Thwate Thwate Khaing’s story had given impetus to a civil disobedience movement in Myanmar, of which medical personnel have been a central part.
Her brother Ye Htut Aung had told last week how his sister, who was voting for the first time in the November election, had decided to go to the capital to join the demonstration and knew that the police were carrying weapons.
He confirmed that she had passed away at 11 a.m. local time on Friday while on life support.
“I feel very sad and have nothing to say,” he said.
“I am grateful to all those who have prayed for her.”