(AFP) – Apr 6, 2008
YANGON (AFP) — Ludu Daw Amar, one of Myanmar's most renowned writers and journalists and an outspoken critic of the military junta, died Monday at the age of 93, her family said.
She died in hospital in the central city of Mandalay, where her family set up the town's first publishing house in the 1940s.
"She died from heart disease at Mandalay General Hospital this morning. We brought her body back to our home," her son Nyi Pu Lay told AFP by phone.
Ludu Daw Amar -- a pen name which means "of the people" -- was a famous figure among reporters and writers in Myanmar, where the media is tightly controlled by the military government.
Her birthday was celebrated with all the reverence of a public holiday each year by writers, journalists and artists throughout Myanmar, which has been ruled by the military since 1962.
"It is a big loss for us. She was not only a leader for our press society, but also for the people," said a local journalist who did not want to be named.
Ludu Daw Amar and her husband published a pro-independence political journal, the Ludu Daily News, in the 1940s.
"She was a very progressive woman at the time," Thailand-based Myanmar expert Win Min told AFP. "You didn't have many women writing articles."
The journal eventually fell foul of government censors and was shut down in the 1960s, but this did not silence left-leaning Ludu Daw Amar, and she carried on giving interviews criticising junta policy into her old age.
She also translated foreign works and wrote books on women's issues and Myanmar culture, with the junta keeping a close eye on her, Win Min said.
"She has been very critical of the government along the way," he said. "She is like the mother of all journalists, she is the ethical symbol. People are very proud of her."
Most recently, Ludu Daw Amar called on the junta to stop using force during a crackdown on street demonstrations in Yangon last year that left at least 31 people dead, according to UN estimates, and hundreds detained.
Some journalists were briefly arrested during the protests, but Ludu Daw Amar's age appeared to have protected her from retribution by the junta.
Ludu Daw Amar is survived by two sons and two daughters.
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