RANGOON, Burma -- Thakin Soe, a former Burmese Communist rebel who once tried Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev in absentia for deviationism and condemned him to death, has died and was buried in Rangoon.
Thakin Soe, leader of now defunct Trotskyite Red Flag Burma Communist Party, died May 4 at age 83, the official Working People's Daily reported Wednesday. No cause of death was listed. He was buried Wednesday.
Notorious for his ruthlessness but respected for his unbending nationalism, he opposed the British colonial government before World War II and resisted the Japanese occupation army in Burma.
After the war, he split with the parent Burma Communist Party in 1946 and set up the rival Red Flag Communist Party to seek independence.
With Soviet leader Josef Stalin as his hero and role model, Thankin Seo kept up his rebellion against successive governments for 24 years, reportedly using brutal methods to frighten citizens in areas of rural Burma into submitting to his rule.
He was particularly remembered for his liquidation in the late 1950s of villages in central Burma, including the hamlet of Sinzwe, which had refused to pay taxes to his Red Flag regime.
According to contemporary press reports, his men surrounded the village at night, drove away the elderly and the young and tied up remaining residents in groups of two or three and opened fire on them at close range before setting the village ablaze.
About 70 to 80 villagers were killed in the massacre and some 100 children were orphaned, according to the press reports.
Thakin Soe reportedly was greatly disturbed when he learned of Khruschev's de-Stalinization drive in the mid-1950s and set up a makeshift court in his jungle hideout.
He tried the Soviet leader in absentia, found him guilty of deviationism and sentenced him to death.
Thakin Soe was captured by government troops in November 1970, leading to the demise of his Red Flag Party. He subsequently was tried and sentenced to death for treason, but the sentence later was commuted to life imprisonment under an amnesty issued by former Burmese strongman Gen. Ne Win.
He was released from prison in 1980 under another amnesty order, and despite his violent anti-government rebellion, was awarded the Medal of State for his part in the Burmese independence struggle.