U Ko Ni had just stepped off a plane and was standing curbside at the airport in Yangon, the largest city in Myanmar. The tall, gray-haired lawyer cradled his 3-year-old grandson while passengers around him spoke on their phones or climbed into taxis.
No one seemed to notice as a man in shorts and sandals sidled up behind Ko Ni, drew a 9-millimeter pistol inches from his head and pulled the trigger.
The fatal shooting not only silenced one of Myanmar’s most prominent legal experts, it exposed the dangers lurking below the surface of this former military dictatorship’s fitful transition to democracy.
In the old Myanmar — previously known as Burma and ruled by a junta...