YANGON, Myanmar — U Aung Thaung, a senior Burmese politician who was implicated in violence against dissidents and accused of personal corruption, died Thursday in Singapore. He was 74.
His death, in a hospital, was caused by complications of a stroke.
A military veteran and close associate of U Than Shwe, who led Myanmar’s governing junta from 1992 to 2011, U Aung Thaung was the country’s industry minister from 1997 to 2011. He was accused of using that position to benefit himself, his family, and aides financially. 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 US Treasury Department, which said he was undermining Myanmar’s transition to democracy.
He was a leader 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 Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel laureate who now leads the country’s opposition.
Dozens of her supporters from the National League for Democracy were reported to have been killed in the attack, and she was placed under house arrest. She was released in 2010. U Aung Thaung denied dissidents’ claim 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 sanctions were announced.
As Myanmar embarked on a more democratic path, the Union Solidarity and Development Association became the Union Solidarity and Development Party, which is now the country’s governing party, backed by the military. The party was blamed for widespread vote manipulation during the 2010 election.
Two minutes of silence were observed Thursday in Parliament after his death was announced, the party said.
In recent years, U Aung Thaung was accused of playing a role in the sectarian violence that killed more than 300 people, most of them Muslim, from 2012 to 2014. He called those allegations “nonsense.”