Personalities

Ba Thein Sein, Saw Maw Reh, Saw
Ba U Gyi, Saw Padoh Mahn Sha
Ba Zan, Mahn Sankey, Saw
Benson, Naw Louisa Sgaw Ler Taw
Bo Mya, Saw Tamla Baw, Saw
Hla Pe, U Than Aung, Saw
Hunter Thamwe, Saw U Thuzana
Kyadoe, Saw Henson  
Lin Tin, Saw  
Loo Nee, Saw Sydney  
   

Ba Thein Sein, Saw

Born in 1927 in Henzada where he studied at the American Baptist Mission High School worked as a clerk at the war office in Rangoon until 1946.  Became involved in the Insein uprising and shortly after joined 2nd Division commander Thackerbaw in the Taungoo-Kawkereik-Hlaingbwe area. 1n 1963 became a member of the KNU central committee and was appointed as education minister during the seventies and eighties, became a KNU General Secretary and Prime minister of Kawthoolei in 1984 and his now President of the KNU.

Ba U Gyi, Saw

Born in Bassin in 1905 to a wealthy landlord, after completing University in Rangoon, in 1925, he became a lawyer and was called to the English Bar two years later. Joined the Burmese Government in 1937 as Minster of revenue. After the war he formed the Karen Nation Union, in 1946, to represent Karen interests in post independence Burma and to call on the British to allow the Karens their own state.  He accepted the post of  Minister of Information from 1946 to February 1947 and then Minister of Transport before resigning in April 1947. In January 1949 led the Karen uprising in Insein. Was killed in an ambush on the 12th August 1950, near a small village 170 miles away from Moulmein.

The journalist U Thaung, who wasone of the reporters called to the scene recounts the following in his book 'A journalist, A General and an Army in Burma.'

'The military officers continued the press conference on the plane. Saw Ba U Gyi was captured dead, along with a high ranking Karen rebel leader (Saw Sankey) and an English Major who had been imprisoned for supplying arms (believed to be Captain Vivien who provided the arms in the Aung san assassination) they claimed. The journalist succeeded in getting the true story after cross examining them.

The rebel chieftain were captured alive and killed even though they had surrendered. 'They tried to run away when we arranged to take them to our nearest military camp. We couldn't help it. There was no way we could save them in such a situation. They said we could not print the truth so we used the official version 'Captured dead'.'

In order to avoid making a shrine to the fallen Karen hero Saw Ba U Gyi's body was thrown into the sea. To this day the 12th August is respected as Martyr's Day and ceremonies marking Saw Ba U Gyi's death are conducted by Karens throughout the world.

Ba Zan, Mahn (speeches)

Born in 1916 in Maubin where he later became a school teacher . Mahn Ba Zan joined the KNU in early 1947 and became the first commander of its military wing, the Karen Nation Defence Organisation (KNDO), on the 16th July that year.

A strong socialist and political ideologue, he negotiated an alliance with the Communist Party of Burma, in 1952, which then led to the formation of an umbrella organisation; the National Democratic United Front (NDUF).

As Vice chairman of the KNU, and steering force behind it's vanguard party -  the Karen National United Party (KNUP) he was responsible for unifying the delta and the eastern Karens, led by Bo Mya, together in 1968. He was KNU Chairman from 1969 until 10th August 1976 when he became Chairman of the newly formed National Democratic Front. He died at Manerplaw in May 1982.

Benson, Naw Louisa

Born in Rangoon in 1941 the daughter of a Portuguese Jew and his Karen wife. Naw Louisa became Miss Burma in both 1956 and 1958 and acted in number of a films. After studying in Boston she returned to Burma and, in 1964, married ex-5th Brigade Commander Lin Tin who had surrendered with Saw Hunter Tha Mwe. After LIn Tin's death a year later near Thaton, she led his 5th Brigade back into the revolution. In 1967 she married an American, Glen Craing, and now lives in California where she is active in a number of overseas Karen organisations and pro-democracy groups.

Hla Pe, U

Born in 1909 in Thanpayapinseik village, Thaton. U Hla Pe, an ethnic Pa-O, was minister of forestry in Dr Ba Maw's government during the Japanese occupation and worked closely with Saw Ba U gyi after the war as vice-chairman of the Karen National Union was responsible for organising the Pa-O rebellion before succumbing to asthma on the 25th September 1975.

Hunter Thamwe, Saw

Born in 1905 in Bassein. Saw Hunter Thamwe studied at Judson College in Rangoon before becoming District educational inspector in Henzada. He joined the KNU in 1947 and was closely involved in the uprising in 1949. Leader of Karen forces in the delta and a strong rightwinger, Hunter Thamwe became chairman of the KNU from 1956 until 1963. Musso Kawkasa (emperor) as he became know surrendered to the Burmese in 1963. he died in Rangoon on the 2nd January 1980.

Kya Doe, Saw Henson

Born in 1907 in Myaungmya to a secondary school heamaster, entered Sandhurst military acadamy in 1930. Stayed behind during the second world war and joined the Burma Defence Army. A member of the anti-Japanese resistance in 1945 he became vice chief of staff after the war before leaving the army in the early fifties joined U Nu in the sixties and surrendered during the 1980 amnesty when he returned to Rangoon. He was appointed to the election commision in 1988.

Lin Tin

Born in 1925 in Thamaing near Rangoon. Lin Tin served with the Japanese forces as an interpreter for the Kempentei. In 1948 he joined the KNDO and participated in the rebellion one year later.  He became commander, in 1956, of 5th Brigade in Thaton, and in 1961 was responsible for sending his troops to attack Mae Sot in what was believed to be retaliation after a dispute with Thai traders. In 1963 he surrendered with Saw Hunter Thamwe and married film actress and former Miss Burma Naw Louisa Benson. He was killed by Burmese agents in September 1965.

Saw Sydey Loo Nee

Saw Sydney Loo Nee was born in Rangoon, Arlone Karen section, on the third of November 1882 by the mother of Naw Kalaya Loo Nee and the father of Oo Loo Nee. He was the oldest son amount the three. All Sydney Loo Nee decedent were educated, popular and famous in national and political affair amount the Karen.

Dr T Than Bya, Oo Loo Nee (Sydney Loo Nee's father), and his uncle, formed the Daw K'lu K'run, Karen National Association (KNA). Sydney Loo Nee's father was a pastor and he acted as a General Secretary in the Karen National Association. After his father and uncle passed away, he and his relatives took responsibility for the Karen National Association. When the Karen National Association was first formed, Loo Nee's relatives took positions as General Secretary, Chairman, and Vice Chairman.

After he finished high school, he went to India to continue his education. Then he went to England to get his honor degree of Bar at Law. After he got a degree he came back to Burma.

When he came back to Burma, he continued to service in the Karen National Association, he did work for any other services. He devoted his full time to national affairs including political affairs till he was 40 years old and on April 27, 1922 he got married with Naw Andis Loo Nee and had one son and one daughter.

His duties were external and internal affairs of KNA. In addition, he also served as a member of the House of Representative, Chairman of Parliament, School Principal, a member of the Taungoo Development Agency, Director of the Union Bank Board, and chairman of the YMCA.

To reform the diarchy in Burma, so that the Karens would get a opportunity in the administration, Sydney Loo Nee and his representatives were sent to India on the twentieth of August 1917. There were one hundred and three members of parliament in the Diarchy administration. In 1923, there were five Karen representatives in the Burma Legislative council.

Sydney Loo Nee took a job as a member of representatives in the northern part of Bassein, from 1938 until 1941. During that administration, there were thirty-six members in the House of Commons and House of Representatives, eighteen people in each. Among these members, eighteen people were selected by the governor and the others were elected by the people. Three Karens took positions in parliament. Saw Sydney Loo Nee, took the position of chairperson in the house of representative within a month.

In 1946, he headed the Karen delegation to go to England representing the Daw K'lu Association. In 1939, the first Karen New Year was celebrated and five Karen leaders, including Sydney Loo Nee, signed a New Year facilitation to the Karen people. When he became a municipal councilor he named roads in the Karen quarter after his uncle and his father.

He died on the sixteenth of June 1965.

Maw Reh, Saw

A native Karenni born in in 1920 in In-Gyaw Village, Taungoo District. Saw Meh Raw was actively involved in the anti-Japanese movement during World War II and later joined the Karen Rifles. Unhappy with the Government, he formed the Karenni National Organisation in 1947 and one year later the United Karenni States' Independence Army which allied itself with the KNDO. He was captured and imprisoned by the Burmese Army in 1949. After his release in 1953, he rejoined the Karenni struggle and became Chairman of the KNPP from 1960 1977. Two years later he became chairman of the NDF and stayed in that position until 1991.

Padoh Mahn Sha Laphan (video)

General Secreatary, Karen National Union.

Bo Mya, Saw (video)

Born on the 20th January 1927, in Htee Moo Kee village, Papun District. He started school at the age of 10 in Papun district before having to abandon his studies due the outbreak in Asia of the second world war. He became a policeman and served under the Japanese regime before abandoning the position and joining Force 136. After the war he joined the AFPFL government's Uniion Military Police (UMP).

At the beginning of the Revolution he joined with the rank of corporal before being promoted Sergeant in 1949. By 1956 he had become company commander. By 1963 a rift had occurred between two separate factions of the Karen resistance movement led by Saw Hunter Thamwe and Mahn Ba Zan. He decided to support Mahn Ba Zan and was elected as a KNUP Central Committee member, however unhappy with the political stance the KNUP was taking, he split in 1965 to form the KNLC.

With the need for a united Karen front in 1968 both he and Mahn Ba Zan formed the Karen National United Front (KNUF) with Mahn Ba Zan as Chairman and Saw Bo Mya as Vice-Chairman, this organisation later changed, in 1969, into the Karen National Union.

In 1976, at an emergency meeting in Manerplaw, he was appointed President of the KNU and remained in that position until 2000. He is now vice-president and Supreme Commander of the Karen armed forces. 

Sankey, Saw

Born in 1914 in Armherst, Moulmein Saw was a captain with Force 136 and later became a member of the Frontier Areas Committee of Enquiry (FACE) which had been set up to try settle the ethnic disputes before independence. He became a commander in the KNDO  in 1947 and joined Saw Ba U Gyi and died with him during a Burmese ambush on 12th August 1950.

Sgaw Ler Taw

Born in 1914 in Kyaunkpya, Taungoo he completed his studies at Judson College and became a headmaster in Tharrawaddy. He Force 136 during the war after which he returned to be an Headmaster. With the outbreak of the revolution he joined the KNU and became the acting chairman between 1953 and 1956. A leader of the KNUP in the Pego Yomas he led a delegation to meet the communst Party of Burma. He returned to Manerplaw where he was responsible for editing the English Language KNU Bulletin.

He died in Manerplaw on the 7th March 1989.

Tamla Baw, Saw

Born in 1920 in Moulmein, Saw Tamla Baw was a Lance corporal in the 2nd Burma rifles until the Japanese during which he joined Major Seagrim. He was captured by the Japanese and imprisoned but was able to escape four months later and join Force 136. He became an office in the First Karen Rifles after the war, he joined the Karen uprising in 1949 and participated in a number of conflict in Taungoo. He joined the KNLA in 1969 and is presently Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces.

Than Aung, Saw

Born in in 1928 in Insein Township, Rangoon he completed his education at an Indian School in the Burmese capital where later he ran a transport company. After joining the Karen Revolution in January 1949 he joined Saw Hunter Thamwe worked both in the Taungoo-Papun areas and the Pegu Yomas. An official in the KNUP he became General Secretary of the KNU from 1975-1984 and Vice-president from 1984 until his death in Chiang Mai on the 2nd April 1992.

 

U Thuzana (video)

Born Maung Than Sein in Noh Hta Village, 45 miles north of Pa-an, 1310 ME, the 8th of 12 Children. Entered Kaw Karet Monastery at 8 years old until fourth standard when he moved to May Dar We Sarthintike (Monastery), Moulmein, Mon State. After three years he moved to Gardayon Sarthintike, Thaton. Became a member of people's militia after which, at the age of 20, he was ordained as a monk. Promulgated Buddhist teachings in KNU controlled areas around Mudon and Myaing Gyi Ngu. Was heavily involved in the incident at Thu Mwe Hta where his Buddhist followers amongst the Karen National Liberation Army revolted against the leadership leading to U Thuzana forming the Democatic Karen Buddhist Association (Organisation) on December 21st 1994 and some days later the armed wing of the faction - the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army.