Friday, February 13, 2009

Mahn Sha’s Spirit Lives On

General Secretary Mahn Sha (right) of KNU pictured with
Gen Bo Mya at Karen Revolution Day in 2004.
(Photo: Htain Linn)

The Irrawaddy News

On February 14 last year, two unknown men pulled up in a pick-up truck outside Mahn Sha’s house in Mae Sot. He was upstairs resting on the balcony at the time, family members say. The men walked into the house armed with shotguns. They marched up the stairs and a series of loud gunshots was heard. The gunmen ran downstairs and escaped. The Karen National Union (KNU) general-secretary lay dead in a pool of blood.

On Saturday, Karen people around the world, Burmese opposition leaders, international Burma watchers and exiled Burmese will pay respects to Mahn Sha, considered a visionary Karen leader—a man respected by all, especially his adversaries.

Ceremonies of remembrance to Mahn Shah, who was 64 when he died, will be held on Saturday in Norway and other countries around the world.

Mahn Sha was born in Irrawaddy Division on July 5, 1944. After majoring in history at Rangoon University in 1962, he joined the Karen movement at its jungle headquarters, Manerplaw, on the Thai-Burmese border.

He was involved in ceasefire talks with the Burmese military regime, which came to see him as a strong leader who repeatedly called for genuine political dialogue. He was regarded by many as one of the leading lights in the KNU and was being groomed to take over the troubled KNU leadership.

In its six-decade war for autonomy, the KNU never signed a ceasefire agreement with the Burmese armed forces and, in recent years, had to contend with the splinter Karen group, the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army, as an enemy too.

With so many enemies, it has never been confirmed who ordered the Karen leader’s assassination.

Brig-Gen Johnny, commander of the Karen National Liberation Army’s Brigade 7, said that Karen youth should look at Mahn Sha’s example and the way he sacrificed his life for the Karen people.

Brig-Gen Johnny said, “Mahn Sha didn’t work for his own family. He worked for his people. He didn’t even possess any belongings of worth when he died.”

The current general-secretary of the KNU, Zipporah Sein, said she encouraged Karen youths to learn from Mahn Sha as he was the one who always supported education and politics, and even prompted youngsters to get involved in the democracy movement.

Burmese opposition leaders in exile also spoke out in support of Mahn Sha’s vision. Most agreed that the death of Mahn Sha was a huge loss for the Burmese democracy movement as no one in the KNU leadership could substitute for him.

Aung Moe Zaw, the chairman of the Thailand-based Democratic Party for a New Society, said that Mahn Sha was an ethnic leader who spoke for the whole Burmese democracy movement, including ethnic people and the Burmese opposition.

The secretary-general of the Forum for Democracy in Burma, Naing Aung, agreed that Mahn Sha was a strong ethnic leader who knew and understood the history of the Burmese opposition alliance and who dealt harmoniously with the Burmese opposition groups.

In Norway on Saturday, a posthumous award will be presented to Mahn Sha as well as four other ethnic leaders for their efforts toward national reconciliation in Burma.

The four others are Khun Htun Oo, Aye Tha Aung, Cin Sian Thang and Nai Ngwe Thein.

Mahn Sha’s daughter, Zoya Phan, will receive the award on her father’s behalf.

Recent Posts from Burma Wants Freedom and Democracy

Recent posts from WHO is WHO in Burma


The Nuke Light of Myanmar Fan Box
The Nuke Light of Myanmar on Facebook
Promote your Page too