Two months after New York police identified the suspect in the killing of Burmese immigrant Than Than Htwe, David Robinson remains on the loose.
The suspect is accused of trying to pull the backpack off Htwe’s only child, Kyaw Zaw Hein. The force of the action sent both Hein and Htwe tumbing down the stairs of the subway station. The 58-year old died of head injuries a week later and her family donated her organs.
The New York Times reports Htwe immigrated with her husband and son from Myanmar just three years ago so Hein could get an American education.
Relatives helped them find a basement apartment in the Bensonhurst area of Brooklyn. Her husband, Myint Shein found work as a sushi chef. Htwe found work making clothes for the hospitality industry.
Hein studied math at Fordham University and tried to take extra classes to accelerate his graduation. Both the father and son kept vigil over Htwe in the hospital room until the decision came to end life support.
Hein told the Times he wishes he had done more to help his family so his mother wouldn’t have had to work so hard.
“I would have worked if I had known this would happen,” Hein said. “I would have just let her enjoy her life. I didn’t do enough.”
For Queen’s College urban studies professor Madhulika S. Khandelwal, Htwe’s murder speaks to a larger issue.
“For Asians far and wide, one of the basic commonalities is that they are seen as aliens and foreigners here (in the USA),” he told The Knight News.
“This is unacceptable in a place like Queens and NYC. In 2021, we must revise our ways of looking at immigrants. How are we treating these people in times of crisis? When these situations arise, what are the values of social justice and equality?”
Htwe’s husband, Shein, has decided to return to Myanmar to become a monk. His wife would sometimes sit for hours before the Buddhist altar with prayer beads in their home before falling asleep.
His son will remain in the United States.
“I want to send him back where he is happy,” he said to the Times.
Police declined to comment on the case.
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