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Date: Fri, 3 Feb 1995 03:54:12 -0800
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Whither KNU?

From the Democratic Kayin Buddhist Organization (DKBO), in The New Light of Myanmar,
29 January 1995


The KNU Headquarters at Manerplaw was occupied by some 4,000 strong forces led by Brig-Gen Kyaw Than, Brig-Gen Tun Hlaing and Brig-Gen Pya Pya of the splinter group, the Democratic Kayin Buddhist Organization (DKBO) and its armed wing on 27 January 1995.

The KNU, formed on 7 February 1947 with the aim of working for the welfare of the Kayin people has also broken up due to poor leadership of Nga Mya. The KNU was once strong politically and militarily. It is an organization which cannot be deleted from history.

Manerplaw, where the KNU had its headquarters, is well known internationally. It is also a place where not only the KNU but also other armed groups also set up headquarters. Today, when Manerplaw has fallen, the KNU and all its cohorts have no place to run. Theirs is a most pitiable plight.

It has been some time since a problem cropped up at Manerplaw and the KNU organization itself. There was a clash between the majority of the followers who wanted peace and the minority of avaricious, selfish leaders, which, seemingly not intensive, was on he verge of exploding. The December 1994 incident was thought by some to be a religious upheaval. There were even those who spread the word that the State Law and Order Restoration Council had a hand in it.

The fact is that it is a conclusion of a long feud between Nga Mya who had propagandised and lied that he would seek peace and his followers.

In fact the split of the KDBO is but a small fuse for the KNU powder-keg that was about to blow up.

The Thanlwin River which flows from north to south and the Thaungyin which flows from east to west converge near Thumwetu village. Nearby is the Manerplaw camp. The Thanlwin is the best natural barrier for Manerplaw, and, being an international boundary, it provides very good political redout.

Manerplaw, in fact, has long been a place where all kinds of terrorism were spawned. While many KNU camps fell under the Tatmadaw's offensive, Manerplaw was out of such offensive for quite some time. The Tatmadaw's offensive threatened Manerplaw in early 1992. In March of that year, Kwe-aik-taing and Karkin camps west of the Thanlwin, which provided cover for Manerplaw, fell. Nga Mya even tried to move the KNU Headquarters from Manerplaw.

The situation, however, changed.

The then Brig-Gen Maung Hla, who was in Hpa-an, declared on 28 April 1992 that the offensive in Kayin State would be stopped. The State Law and Order Restoration Council thus opened the door to peace. The sound of gunfire ceased where the Thaungyin and the Thanlwin rivers meet. The Tatmadaw withdrew some of the forces that could really play havoc for the KNU.

The Kayin populace, while looking for a glimmer of peace, could not help feeling uneasy. Hopes got close, than distanced again. The people did not know the underhand tactics. That the sound of gunfire had stopped gave some peace of mind. The confluence of the two rivers, in all its beauty was tranquil.

Sayadaw Baddanta Thuzana of Myainggyingu Monastery near Kamamaung has been an influential missionary monk who enjoyed the respect of the Buddhist Kayin nationals. In response to the aspirations of the villagers, the Sayadaw organized the building of a pagoda on the peak of Laykaytu Ridge. Enthusiastically, the villagers went about the business of getting it done. Buddhists among the KNU armed group sought to gain merit carrying sand, and bricks and doing hard work.

The Laykaytu Ridge, Nawhta hump, to be exact, is in a position facing Khweaiktaung where the Tatmadaw had established a camp. Suddenly, there emerged at the pagoda site Major Waw Hteh of KNU Headquarters security detail and his men.

He cursed out the monks, the lay people and all who were working on the pagoda. They beat and kicked some of them. They kicked the cement bags off.

"Do you know this pagoda is to be used as reference target for the Tatmadaw artillery to hit Manerplaw? You are purposely building this. Isn't it?" KNU leader Nga Mya summoned the Mainggyingus Sayadaw to Manerplaw on 7 May 1994 and ordered him to stop building the pagoda.

Nga Mya's words were rude. Crude. It was a religious insult. His disciples, the monks and the laity could no longer take it.

Led by Myainggyingu Sayadaw, Myintabyay Sayadaw and monks, the disciples numbering some 500 marched on Manerplaw in force on 10 May 1993. About 200 KNU armed men also marched in, to support the Sayadaw. Nga Mya was shaken by what he saw. He was concerned that armed strength had also joined forces.

Nga Mya changed tactics. He put on a good face.

"Hey..., Our KNU also allows religious freedom. We close offices on full-moon and no-moon days".

Since the arrival was in the form of a protest, Major Waw Hteh took an offensive stance. Nga Mya calmed him down. He also spoke to the Sayadaw and disciples and calmed them. He allowed them to proceed with the building of the pagoda. Thus, the problem was temporarily solved.

Nga Mya could not forgive the Sayadaw. He saw it as a challenge. He cooked up a dastardly act to put it down. He looked for a monk named U Wizana, placed him in residence at Manerplaw. Men of Sixth Battalion became his disciples. The monk came to be known as Monk Rambo. Nga Mya gave him favours. The monk toted a gun, a pistol. That was why he was dubbed Rambo.

A congregation of the Sangha was held from March 1-4, 1994 at Manerplaw presided over by Monk Rambo, attended by 81 monks from 71 monasteries. The Myainggyingu Sayadaw came, but he spat up blood and had to be sent to a hospital in Chiangmai. Regardless of how the Sayadaws felt, Monk Rambo, in concert with Nga Mya's wishes, set up the Kawthoolei Sangha Organization, with himself as head.

The Myainggyingu Sayadaw carried on his missionary work. He built the Aiksathaya Sutaungpyi PhaungdawOo Pagoda in Thumwehta Village, the Dattha Bala Pagoda on Ngamaizaw peak near Khweaiktaung. He established a vegetarian village of some 80 houses.

Fed up with hopeless KNU life, Tartee and some of his men joined the vegetarian village and took refuge. They found comfort in his teachings. Ko Noo and his men from Manerplaw came to get them. Tartee and his men would not go back. The villagers and Ko Noo's group got into a quarrel.

Nga Mya, who had been preparing for about a year to crush Myainggyingu Sayadaw found fault in the vegetarian village. He curbed building of new houses. Threatened saying he would not exempt them from paying tributes and serving as porters .

He accused the Myainggyingu Sayadaw of plotting to weaken KNU strength and eventually called him a spy of the State Law and Order Restoration Council.

His adviser was Major Waw Hteh. He sent him a summon on 8 October 1994 requiring him to report to Manerplaw within 45 days. Mahn Sha wrote the letter for Nga Mya. Monk Rambo brought Nga Mya's letter and went to the Sayadaw who was taking up residence in Thumwehta monastery.

"Come to Manerplaw, or you will be killed", the Monk Rambo impudently threatened the Sayadaw.

"I am not in any way concerned with the Tatmadaw. I am purely in the Order for the promotion of the Sasana. At present, I am under a solemn oath to have 45 days' vegetarian diet. Let me come over there after that period," replied the Myainggyingu Sayadaw politely.

The Monk Rambo was rather agitated and demanded, "Hey!...Does it make sense to take the oath to have vegetarian's diet in the revolutionary area? That's all nonsense!"

The Pauktaw monk and members of the Sangha and the lay persons staying in obeisance near the Myainggyingu Sayadaw were provoked and quarrelled with the Monk Rambo who then fled to Manerplaw.

Nga Mya flew into a rage. Waw Hteh and Kyaw Char who started the problem kept on instigating the situation.

Waw Hteh was well known as Nga Mya's grandson. Kyaw Char as his nephew .

Nga Mya ordered Waw Hteh, "If this monk does not come here after 45 days, turn to force."

The Myainggyingu Sayadaw, in the practice of the law of forbearance, came over to Nga Mya at Manerplaw on 1 November 1994. He wished to have the problem straightened out.

Nga Mya said reprovingly, "Stop building your pagoda...Datthabala Pagoda on the Mei Nga Zaw hilltop is an enemy's artillery target reference. Are you told to do a vegetarian's practice by your God's teachings? Believing in the fictitious God, you are helping the Na Wa Ta (the State Law and Order Restoration Council), aren't you? Isn't that Aiksathaya Phaungdaw U Pagoda at the river mouth fictitious too? I know your ploy".

To please Nga Mya, Monk Rambo, too, scolded the Sayadaw.


Nga Mya was mainly responsible for solving the problem in Thumwehta. However, he relegated the matter to Maj. Gen. Maung Maung at Manerplaw as a negotiator. The situation had turned from bad to worse. Nga Mya sent Phado Mahn Sha and a member to Myainggyingu on 4 December 1994. He made them convince Kyaw Heh and his group who just demanded the presence of Nga Mya himself. Mahn Sha feared being arrested and more so, he could not find and provide a sort of solution on mutual concessions.

Mahn Sha feigned suffering from malaria. He requested treatment in Manerplaw. With loving kindness, those of Buddhist faith gave him permission and he rushed back to Manerplaw.

Again, Nga Mya sent Tu Tu Lay, in charge of the judiciary of the KNU Central Committee, on 5 December 1994. This time also, Kyaw Heh said he did not wish to hold negotiations with any representative and it was needed for Sayadaw to be allowed to take up residence in the monastery as the presiding monk, or General Mya and Monk Rambo themselves come over to solve the problem. And he sent Tu Tu Lay back.

Nga Mya this time also sent Maj-Gen Maung Maung to Myainggyingu. Maj-Gen Maung Maung relegated the matter to Minister for Forestry Phado Aung San who was a first cousin of Myainggyingu Sayadaw. Phado Aung San was a convert from Buddhism to Christianity for a position in the Central Committee. He asked for a meeting with the Sayadaw but was not allowed. Instead, he had to see the Sayadaw's assistant, Sayadaw U Candobhasa.

He had negotiations with U Candobhasa but the problem was not straightened out. The persons of Buddhist faith also demanded the visit of Tu Tu Lay, the Minister for Religious Affairs. Members of the Sangha and their disciples converged on Myainggyingu everyday and the number was increasing. By leaps and bounds, the confluence region was a gathering point of about 2,000 members of the Sangha and about 2,500 lay persons.

As the 20th Battalion, the Infantry Regiment, had blocked the Thanlwin bank, KNU Brigades 2, 4, and 6 had to contact Manerplaw through the neighbouring country and the situation became complicated.

Captain Terry Hanson, a US naval attache in Bangkok, and wife Erlina and party came down the Thanlwin River from Manerplaw on a powered boat on 3 December. Kyaw Heh and his group stopped them but they did not and so, Kyaw Heh's group fired warning shots to stop them. But Erlina and group were allowed to leave without being put to any trouble.

Members of the Sangha and laypersons in the entire Kayin State came filing in to the confluence region. Presiding Sayadaw of TadaU Monastery U Sunanda, Presiding Sayadaw of Meseik Monastery U Candima and Myainggyingu Sayadaw's assistant Sayadaw U Candobhasa were in the lead of all the Sangha members and lay persons. Abbot Bhaddanta U Narinda of the Central Hill Mission also came over there.

The members of the Sangha told the battalions and units in the region they would solve the problem by themselves and they need not come in. Local commanding officers also promised the Sayadaws they would remain as the offensive had been stopped and would not come between. The Sayadaws were also of the opinion that Nga Mya would concede on demands by the Buddhist mass. Their sole aim was for the Myainggyingu Sayadaw to have the right to take up residence in the confluence region and to strive for promotion and propagation of the Sasana.

Maj-Gen Maung Maung came back to Thumwehta together with Colonel Tu Tu Lay, Phado Mahn Sha and Phado San Hlaing. They read out a letter which they said was General Mya's speech. However, the problem was far from reaching a solution. WO Kyaw Than resented the feeling of Kayin nationals suffering a great deal despite sacrificing their lives in the Kayin revolution. Now again, the religious problem had come up. Deputy Commanding Officer Kyaw Heh convinced him of the situation as best he could. On 7 December, Maj-Gen Maung Maung and party were detained. Lt-Col Johnny, who went over there, was also detained.

On the one hand, Nga Mya appeased the Buddhists but did not concede to their demands and on the other, those in rebellion in Thumwehta spread the news that Maj-Gen Maung Muang had been killed. Brigades 6 and 7 were reinforced in logistics and small groups in Manerplaw were kept on alert.

Naing Aung's ABSDF group, convinced of a situation to try to win Nga Mya's favour, drew a conclusion for Nga Mya that it was the Na Wa Ta, the culprit, that started the problem. Tin Aung and his group of NLD Liberated Area also promised Nga Mya they would help solve the problem.

Not only members of the Sangha, armed Kayin nationals of Buddhist faith gathered at the confluence region. Nga Mya made his men block the armed Kayins and skirmishes took place in some places. It was in such a situation that the 20th Battalion and the 104th Battalion were in a position to launch severe attacks.

Forces at the confluence region fixed 8 am on 10 December 1994 as the deadline for Nga Mya to come over there to solve the problem.

"At present, keep them in mollification and then, Kyaw Heh and his group will be gradually executed. Everyone of them must be killed. Take care not to let them team up with the military...ln that case, the battle will become severe. At present, keep them in comfort."

It was Nga Mya's directive.

Brigade 7, commanded by Htein Maung, Nga Mya's sister-in-law's husband, rallied strength to reinforce Manerplaw. Shwe Sai, Nga Mya's brother-in-law, who commanded Brigade 6, did not take the matter of reinforcement seriously and just grumbled that there were no men or ammunition. Nga Mya issued a series of directives alleging that forces at Thumwehta were persons who would undermine the revolution and ordered his men to detain those who had come to rejoin them.

"We must be preemptive in this matter." The deadline of the ultimatum was up.

Forces in Thumwehta waited for another one hour. Then, they launched their protest march. Their aim was show of force and to make demands and did not intend to attack. However, they took care to defend themselves.

Nga Mya issued a letter of directive in haste. It read:

"To all officers, fellow men, the public and monks,

"Be informed that formation of the association based at Thumwehta is not permitted by any means. It is not religious association. It is collaborated and tempted by the enemy's agents to undermine our KNU revolution's policy.

"Convey to leaders, teachers, fellow men and priests that some were murdered and some leaders and clergymen arrested".

When Buddhist forces marched to Manerplaw, they were ruthlessly attacked by the KNU from Hsinbyu Hill. Warrant Officer Pha Mee and one rifleman of No 20 Battalion were killed. Nearly 40 local people succumbed. Three monks also died as they attacked Thumwehta with heavy weapons.

Manerplaw was stained with blood.

The battle became more fierce. Heavy weapons were fired between Thumwehta and Manerplaw. No 20 Battalion captured Uthuta camp. It came about in Thakhulawkyo and Phaeikaung villages that those who got the upper hand grabbed weapons. Nga Mya argued that they had to shoot unavoidably as the guerrillas arrested and killed the leaders and clergymen and then attempted to attack Manerplaw.

The battles broke out precisely at 9:30 am on 11 December 1994. The forces backing No 20 Battalion increased all at once. The forces to counter with Manerplaw were armed with heavy weapons and organized a strength of over 500.

Nga Mya, fearing the Buddhists group's union with the Tatmadaw, looked back to the group's demands-

(1)to organize to hold a meeting of 10,000 monks and 50,000 disciples
(2)to give compensation of 100,000 bahts and
(3)for Bo Mya himself to come and make an apology.

Nga Mya was not in a position to hold a meeting. However, he pledged to pay 100,000 bahts. It was also impossible to go himself. Waw Hteh warned him not to go. Nga Mya proposed to meet in the other country. Kyaw Heh and Kyaw Than shook their heads disapproving that the matters did not concern the other country. Naing Aung and Htein Maung of ABSDF went to negotiate in order to settle the dispute. But they could not come near because of the crossfire. Naing Aung then circulated rumours that those of Thumwehta bayonetted the elders.

Nga Mya ordered to attack the five camps captured by Budhhist forces. Some KNUs, refusing to fight among themselves, absconded to the other country with their families. Buddhist forces released Bogyoke Maung Maung on 12 December. Nga Mya sent again a coordinators' group for compromise. On the other hand, he ordered an attack on the group at the river confluence. As for himself, he went back to his place at Phebawlu village in the other country and ordered his men to move his important property from Manerplaw to Phebawlu.

"Whatever you do regarding religious matters in this area, you must do only when you get my approval. You understand, don't you...".

The Sayadaw tolerated abusive words and insults by Nga Mya and his men. On 23 November 1994, the Monk Rambo held an emergency meeting after organizing the monks in neighbouring villages who were living in fear of him. Out of the seven resolutions passed at the meeting, the last one went: "To suspend missionary work and construction of religious buildings in the battle areas". As it was a suppression of religion, the Kayin Buddhists could not accept.

Under these circumstances, Myainggyingu Sayadaw realized that he could not do missionary work in the river confluence region. In fact, the Sayadaw had arrived not in the time of Na-Wa-Ta (the State Law and Order Restoration Council). He had been doing missionary work for nearly 20 years. As battles did not occur after the Tatmadaw had stopped its offensive, he was able to carry out missionary duties extensively. He wrote a farewell letter to his disciples, leaving a message that though he was discharging religious duties with pure heart, his intention was misunderstood and he did not want to live in the region. With Ashin Khemita of Dattabala Pagoda on Meingazaw Hill, Ashin Kondanya of Aiksathaya Pagoda in Thumwehta and 40 novices, the Sayadaw left Thumwehta village and went by motor boat along Thanlwin River back to Myainggyingu Monastery.

The KNU No 20 Battalion was under the direct command of the headquarters. Deputy battalion commander Kyaw Heh and followers revered the Sayadaw and came to Thumwehta village to pay respects. To their sorrow, they had come to read the farewell letter instead of paying respects to the Sayadaw they revered. Warrant Officer Kyaw Than burst into tears when he saw that the pagodas built tenaciously with their own labour were damaged. The news that Waw Hteh and Kyaw Char hit the pagoda construction trustees and kicked off the scarce bags of cement gathered for construction of the pagoda was unbearable for the Buddhists.

The forces of KNU No 20 Battalion followed the Sayadaw up to Myainggyingu and they blocked the waterway between Myainggyingu and Thawlehta camp beginning 2 December 1994. Kyaw Heh and his men then received the news that Nga Mya had given order to assassinate the Sayadaw. No 20 Battalion forces therefore banned the KNU Central Committee members from travelling in Thanlwin and Thaungyin rivers.

Kyaw Heh proposed to Nga Mya that the Sayadaw was not a Na-Wa-Ta agent and giving trouble to the Sayadaw meant oppressing the Buddhists, and that it should be arranged to enable the Sayadaw to come back to Thumwehta Monastery. They also proposed that Nga Mya himself should come to solve the problems.

This was not a dispute between Buddhists and Christians. It was merely the dispute of Nga Mya and his followers, and villagers. And this problem was not created by Na-Wa-Ta. Nga Mya himself invited it. If Nga Mya's attitude was proper, the problem at river confluence would not be turned into the end of his Manerplaw .

When he was bound to face the problem, Nga Mya dared not come to Kyaw Heh and Kayin Buddhists in Thumwehta. He feared being arrested and put under duress. How would he be the scarce bags of cement gathered for construction of the pagoda was unbearable for the Buddhists.

The forces of KNU No 20 Battalion followed the Sayadaw up to Myainggyingu and they blocked the waterway between Myainggyingu and Thawlehta camp beginning 2 December 1994. Kyaw Heh and his men then received the news that Nga Mya had given order to assassinate the Sayadaw. No 20 Battalion forces therefore banned the KNU Central Committee members from travelling in Thanlwin and Thaungyin rivers.

Kyaw Heh proposed to Nga Mya that the Sayadaw was not a Na-Wa-Ta agent and giving trouble to the Sayadaw meant oppressing the Buddhists, and that it should be arranged to enable the Sayadaw to come back to Thumwehable to solve the problem which occurred due to his narrow-mindedness, extreme views, thinking highly of himself mistakenly believing fear worship as his real leadership and shallowness?

Nga Mya spread rumours that Buddhists went counter to the KNU headquarters, thereby putting the Christian faithful to be battle alert. He gave orders to recruit in Manerplaw. In reality, this matter was not a religious dispute, nor was it related to the Na-Wa-Ta. It was the problem of brainless Nga Mya who dug his own grave.


The New Light of Myanmar
30 January 1995

After he was released from detention at the confluence of the two rivers, KNU Secretary-General Bogyoke Maung Maung sent a notification addressed to all the area commanders, the battalion commanders and brigade commanders which reads:

Notification: As some of the yebaws in Thumwehta said their religion was being attacked and were organizing others, the Kawthoolei Buddhist Organization arranged to call a meeting for conciliation with them.

The opinion expressed by the monks at this meeting was that they were used in holding the meeting and again asserted that we took the upper hand thus. They demanded 100,000 bahts in cash as expenses for the meeting, which I paid out in the hope of achieving solidarity.

Before the meeting, leaders from among us, Bogyoke Maung Maung, Colonel Tu Tu Lay, Padho Mahn Shea Lt. Col Johnny and Padho San Hlaing went and held discussions with their men at Thumwehta. They arrested all these leaders.

Moreover, they did not listen to the Nophew Sayadaw (Monk Rambo) who had personally gone there to talk conciliation and arrested him and 8 other monks.

Then, they ordered that the men they wanted, the Chairman, Thawlehta monk and the Minister for Home and Religious Affairs be brought to them by the deadline set at 9 am on 11 December 1994 or else they would do what they planned to do.

At 9:30 am on 11 December 1994, those who opposed the KNU by use of arms marched from Thumwehta to Manerplaw. Their intention was to seize power and positions of authority.

Troops on security duty had to use arms in order to control the camp and problems ensued. Although we tried peaceful means, we found reaction inevitable as those who rebelled against us resorted to use of force.

We could not know for certain what had happened to our leaders and Nophew Sayadaw who were at the confluence of the Thanlwin.

Though the instigation this time was said to be due to religious reasons, the fact that they ignored the words of the Sayadaws for united and peaceful settlement and arrested them surpassed religious grounds and bordered on Kayin counter-revolution.

Therefore, please inform the public, the officers and other ranks and others at the earliest about the atrocities of the instigators and make sure they are not carried away and become their henchmen.

Please acknowledge receipt.
Nga Mya himself published his assessment.

His, is as follows: 1. I believe the enemy at this point does not use its own force but is resorting to various means to bring about the disintegration of the Kayin army through religious instigation.

2. We must work toward seeing to it that the Sangha are fully satisfied by seeking ways to ask for forgiveness by reconvening the meeting of the Sangha.

3. Currently, the Na Wa Ta organizations have infiltrated into the midst of our people and have organized the Buddhists. It is said they now have a force of about 3,000 at Thumwehta. This is not an honest act. The Na Wa Ta hardcore are instigating a split.

4. Therefore, please organize in the townships so that there will be no hard feelings concerning religion, that there will be mutual regards by religions and individual mutual respect.

5. Ways must be found for the perpetuation of the Kawthoolei organization. There must be love and happiness. Please win in the face of the enemy's plans through your unity.

As Nga Mya was trying to mislead the public, he sent telegrams to the units under his control stating that formation of associations and organizations at Thumwehta was not allowed. He called an emergency meeting of the KNU (Central) but persons invited to it were those he considered safe. At the same time, he notified the men of Thumwehta that he had buried the hatchet and granted them amnesty. What he said and what he did were inconsistent.

Nga Mya pointed at Na Wa Ta as the culprit and tried to solve the problem temporarily. At the same time, he schemed to eliminate the men at the confluence. In panic, he called in his supporters and two helicopters arrived at Manerplaw. Commander Htein Maung of Brigade 7 ordered battle-readiness. He also warned that instructions be followed precisely.

Commander Shwe Sai of Brigade 6 asked Adjutant-General Maj-Gen Saw Hla Htoo:

"What is going on at Thumwehta? Is it a revolution against the entire Kayin revolution?

"Is it a resistance against a group of people?

"Or is it a revolution against an individual?

"How many were killed out of those arrested and who are they?"

No one answered Shwe Sai's questions.

Commander Ye Din of Brigade 1 enquired about the condition of Bo Kyi, a subordinate of his. Bo Kyi answered on the communication set.

"Bo Kyi, were you wounded?"

"I myself begged the dogs, the animals, not to shoot. But it was in vain. They fired into the mass of the people using assorted heavy weapons. We could not help. We turned back".

"There were superiors. Didn't they tackle the problem?"

"I don't know. For no reason they fired at Menyo destroying the trenches. Most of the dead were villagers. My men were also killed. Two men of WO Win Oo's group were wounded".

"Where is Pan Sein right now?"

Pan Sein responded on the communication set.

"I fled as the attack was fierce. I don't know where I am? I don't know if it is in the east, west, south or north".

"At which places did the battles take place?"

"At Nawhta, Manerplaw, Wakha, Thumwehta... all places. They fired rockets, 81 and 75. No clothes on my body. Don't come forward. Or else, Manerplaw will kill you".

"What are the enemies doing?"

"Who do you mean..the enemies? The dogs, the animals firing at will. The military didn't do anything. It remained in its place".

There were exchanges of abusive language and curses on the communication sets. KNU (Central), however, sent telegrams that the crisis was over with general agreement. Shwe Sai of Brigade 6 said that he ran out of ammunition and so he was in no position to support. But in order to save face, he sent 500,000 bahts realized through the sale of timber to Nga Mya.

Bo Pya Pya and Bo Kyi of KNU No 104 Battalion left Mehseik and joined the Buddhists. Bo Pya Pya and Bo Kyi no longer take the allegiance of KNU No. 104 Battalion. The Buddhists group attacked and captured the KNU ammunition depot situated between the mouth of Thaungyin Creek and Melahta. Nga Mya forcefully summoned his units to quell the mutineers. He instigated the Christians. However, even some Christians refused to fight, saying that they would not fight among themselves, they did not want to fight the Tatmadaw either and they only wanted peace.

Nga Mya did not know what to do. He summoned his units to quell the men at the confluence but some had refused. Some did not send reinforcements to Manerplaw. Some fled abandoning the weapons. Nga Mya again ordered despatching a letter to the men at Thumwehta.

"I, your Aba, send this letter to you sons. I would like to give you some advice in connection with religion. I ask your forgiveness to achieve peace between the two sides. I, your Aba, also forgive you, sons".

The Buddhists received the mediation team sent by Nga Mya. The team lost words when the Buddhists demanded that all the areas except Manerplaw between the Thanlwin River and Thaungyin River be handed over. Nga Mya appointed Tin Aung and group of NLD (Liberated Area) as negotiators in the mediation team to employ delaying tactics. He tried to establish a temporary ceasefire. However, mutual distrust was very strong.

WO Kyaw Than told Maj. Kyaw Heh, "Major, we cannot go on like this. General Mya is scheming for the second time to get rid of us as in the Bawtharaw crisis. We cannot believe him at all. It has been almost three years since he promised us peace would be made with the Na Wa Ta..He's just cheating".

"Then, what do you want to do?"

"We're going to form a separate group. The Sayadaw will be our leader. We ourselves will go about to make peace".

Major Kyaw Heh shook his head.

"The Sayadaw is under the solemn oath and will not let anyone meet him. Ours is political".

"If so, Major Ye Din of No. 1 Brigade or you must lead us and the Sayadaw will be the patron".

"Kyaw Than, don't count on me. I'm fed up with that fighting business. I just want to stay near the Sayadaw, adhering to the Dhamma".

A Buddhist yebaw saluted the major and handed a telegram to WO Kyaw Than.

"Major, the telegram is from Manerplaw...it says you have been re-appointed the deputy commanding officer of the 20th Battalion".

"Hey! Tell them I have entered the Buddhist Order as a monk. Kyaw Than, you stay on in the lead. You've done much more than these chaps, the major-generals at Manerplaw".

Buddhist armed members of the KNU were gradually convinced of a situation demanding them to make a decision. The group including members of the Sangha and lay persons gathering at the confluence area had grown to nearly 10,000 in number. No easy matter to feed that large group. KNU armed members there were also in high spirits though they did not have any footwear.

They knew that Nga Mya was just stalling to disperse the group and then would get rid of all of them. If they team up with the Tatmadaw, the order was to attack both the Tatmadaw and the mass. Kyaw Than thought the danger looming over the Buddhists was not small.

They had only one choice.

It was to oppose Manerplaw.

Perpetual peace meant non-existence of Nga Mya the notorious villain and KNU the rubbish.

It was heard through Buddhists that Kyaw Char, Nga Mya's nephew, had given 400,000 bahts to Maung Soe and his men, the KNU's executioners. Their duty was to assassinate Myainggyingu Sayadaw, Bo Kyaw Than, Bo Kyi and Bo Pya Pya. It was Nga Mya's scheme.

The Buddhists' concern was more on the Sayadaw who was in imminent danger than on themselves facing the danger of being crushed. Sentries were strictly posted.

The Buddhists gathering at the confluence were no longer attached to Nga Mya and KNU. What they understood was to establish a separate organization.

After a round of negotiations on 15 December 1994, the Buddhist Kayins freed Padho Mahn Sha, Tu Tu Lay, and Lt- Col Johnny from detention, without inflicting any suffering on them. Monk Rambo and another monk from the neighbouring country also fled out of extreme fear.

Agreement was signed on five points which actually were Nga Mya's feigned concessions.


The New Light of Myanmar

31 January 1995

The situation was still tense at the confluence of the Thanlwin and Thaungyin rivers. Among the mass of people who had arrived, there were more monks and village folks than armed people. Fearing the armed Buddhists would launch an attack on Manerplaw, Nga Mya sought the help of the 6th and 7th Battalions. Not content with that, he asked for reinforcements from opium warlord Khun Sa, 300 of whose opium trafficker bandits joined forces with KNU 2nd Battalion.

At 4 pm on 14 December 1994, some military authorities from the other country, together with crews of TV channels 7 and 9 and reporter of a Bangkok economic magazine came to cover the situation. They also attempted mediation.

At 6 am on 15 December 1994 the forces of KNU 7th Battalion launched a fierce attack on the ridges held by the Buddhists. As a result the Buddhist forces led by Kyaw Heh and Kyaw Than had to retreat toward Ohndaw Village. At Thumwehta some 100 Buddhist armed men and about 500 civilians staunchly held their ground against the KNU. The next day, forces of Bo Pya Pya and Bo Kyi who had deserted the KNU 104th Battalion came to join the forces at Thumwehta.

ABSDF Chairman Dr. Naing Aung, Nai Pe Thein Zar of the New Mon State Party and NLD Liberated Area Vice-Chairman U Tin Aung came to mediate, together with a monk from the other country. Concerned that their supply line would be cut off, Buddhists took Johnny, Mahn Sha, Tu Tu Lay and Monk Rambo and crossed over to the other country at 1 pm on 15 December 1994.

The Buddhist group also included Sayadaw U Pyinnya Thami and U Kuntinnya and Bo Kyaw Ka. At Sutse Monastery, they negotiated with Lt-Gen Tamla Baw, Phado Ba Tin, Dr Marta, Phado Kawso, Lt-Col Georges, Phado Mahn Yin Sein, Phado Reginald Shwe and Lt-Col Soe Soe of the KNU side. The KNU leaders forced their points on U Pyinya Thami, U Kuntinnya and Bo Kyaw Ka and forced them to sign the following declaration with five points:

1. To form a committee representing the Buddhists.

2. This committee to find the right approach to solution if argument arise.

3. The KNU to take full responsibility to ensure that yebaws, Sanghas and other people involved in the incident are not punished, arrested, killed or jailed.

4. The respective command leaders to be given the right to judge if there should occur case concerning shooting of Buddhist yebaws and commanders.

5. Strict action to be taken against hindering freedom of worship with a view to propagating religion.

In fact Nga Mya had sent Tamla Baw to force a reconciliation. Monk Rambo and the Thai monk fled in great fear just before signing of the agreement. Unavoidable, U Pyinnya Thami's group had to sign. They transferred Phado Mahn Sha, Johnny, Tu Tu Lay and Phado San Hlaing while in the other country.

Even before they were forced to sign the agreement, Htain Maung had launched an intensive attack on the armed Buddhists. There was no reason they could trust Nga Mya and the KNU.

In fact the December 15 negotiation was just out of context. There were fierce battles. The mediation committee led by Lt-Gen Tamla Baw sent out an appeal on the wireless urging ceasefire the next day and maintaining the five-point agreement. They urged Monk Rambo to come and stay with the committee in the other country, and also Phado Mahn Sha, Lt-Col Johnny and also Colonel Tu Lay to return to the committee. However, no one paid attention.

Nga Mya also instructed Tamla Baw:

"Spread news to the grassroots that negotiations are continuing between us and the traitors at the confluence of the Thaungyin. Ask the traitors to admit that they were wrong. Ask them to issue a statement saying they committed this wrong because of the instigation of the Na Wa Ta".

That sent Tamla Baw scratching his head. How would he persuade the Buddhists to do as Nga Mya wanted. Nga Mya had written to the Buddhists that he (Aba) was wrong. On the other hand he ordered fierce attacks by the 6th and 7th Battalions. To do all that while he was coercing the Buddhists to give up was tantamount to the work of a madman.

Practically, the Buddhists, far from buckling under, had some forces from the 6th and 7th Battalions crossing over to join them and were thus becoming stronger.

Nga Mya did not trust the Buddhists at Manerplaw and so Chairman of the ABSDF Dr. Naing Aung began to spread one propaganda after another that it was the work of the Na Wa Ta in order to flatter and win favour. He even spread propaganda that Sayadaw Bhaddanta U Thuzana of the Myainggyingu was a major in the Army of Na Wa Ta. It became uneasy for Buddhists such as Vice-Chairman of NLD (Liberated Area) U Tin Aung, Vice-Chairman of ACLP Khine Soe, Naing Aung minister of NCGUB Dr San Aung and Chairman Myint Zaw of the Democracy Party for New Society in the jungles and therefore, some of them assisted in holding negotiations to satisfy Nga Mya's desire.

In reality the Kayin Buddhist armed group members and the KNU (Central) had split up and could never come to terms. The KNU Central was not in good terms with the public which was 80 per cent Buddhist. Nga Mya, in dealing with this matter, had no goodwill at all. The acts of Nga Mya were very outrageous and evil as can be seen from the following:

(1) He wrote and asked forgiveness from the Buddhists saying "Sons, Aba was wrong", and he shed crocodile tears.

(2) He coaxed the mediation committee led by Lt-Gen Tamla Baw to get the Buddhists to issue a statement that they were wrong and this was due to the instigation of Na Wa Ta.

(3) As for the KNU members of the Christian faith he spread rumours to them that a religious war was on and ordered them to kill the Buddhists left and right without leaving anyone alive.

(4) He asked for military aid from drug warlord Khun Sa.

(5) He issued directives to the entire KNU group that this had been due to instigation and agitation by the Na Wa Ta and told them to be united among themselves.

The negotiations between the two sides were only sham.

Nga Mya who had all the while abandoned the peace process and was causing problems all along tried to revive it.

"The root cause of internal strife in the country is the problem arising through politics. It is firmly believed that only when the political problem is solved through political means can genuine internal peace be achieved and gain national unity. Hence, the KNU is striving to implement the necessary tasks to achieve a firm and genuine internal peace and will continue to implement the tasks toward this end."

These are the words of the last paragraph of the directive issued to the entire KNU Group by the Secretary General of the KNU according to the bidding of Nga Mya.

Col. Law Wadi of Manerplaw sent Secretary of Hpa-an District Phado Yar Yu to meet and hold discussions with Myainggyingu Sayadaw. Phado Yar Yu also accepted the advice of Brig-Gen Maung Maung and arrived at Thumwehta where he had discussions with Bo Pya Pya and left for Myainggyingu. On arrival at Myainggyingu he was asked to drink the water of loyalty by WO Kyaw Than and party. Phado Yar Yu did not return to Manerplaw.

Commander of the No. 7 Brigade Htain Maung also asked through the wireless to Commander of the No. 101 Battalion Htaw Hla because he did not trust him.

"Due to their firing, a shell fell on your 120 mm mortar, is that true? And what has happened?"

"Why do you ask in such a manner, the enemy will be listening".

"The enemy is sure to know all. It has happened. Just answer what I am asking. Did anything happen to the men?"

"Seven yebaws near the mortar were taken back by God."

Nga Mya could no longer bear with the developments. He wanted this problem to end soon. He could not easily end the trouble which he had created with much ease. He became fed up with asking for help from all sides.

"Oh it's a bother, I can wait for them only up till the end of the month. If they fail to listen and do as we say at the end of the month, we will wipe them out completely. Another thing is that 1 January 1995 is our New Year. It also coincides with the Kayin New Year which falls on 1st Waxing of Phado. Make them celebrate on a grand scale at district, township and village levels. Let them ask for forgiveness before the New Year...".

Members of the Buddhist faith were already aware of Nga Mya's plot.

They had already laid down a firm decision to split up. Their aim was no longer a religious aim. Their aim was to drive out Nga Mya and the KNU group and to achieve perpetual peace.

Whither KNU? - 4

The New Light of Myanmar
01 February, 1995

Rather than putting up a defensive fight against Nga Mya and the KNU in a disorganized manner the Kayin Buddhist yebaws had agreed to keep up the fight after setting up a proper organization. Bo Pya Pya was maintaining his stand at Thumwehta to prevent the KNU from coming down en masse. Kyaw Heh and Kyaw Than also maintained their stand in Myainggyingu.

On 20 December 1994, Phado Sein Tun, Phado Min Thu, Phado Tikay and Bo Kyi group discussed formation of an organization.

"We are disciples of Myainggyingu Sayadaw. We have no reason to trust the KNU at all. That is why we are not turning back although they are luring us with official positions and money. If we go to them, we will be killed. We have many followers. We need good leaders. I myself finished only the fourth grade. Because of what the KNU did, most people could not finish school. We must seek the help of 1st Brigade and 2nd Battalion of DO".

The next day, 21 December 1994, the Buddhist yebaws formed the democratic Kayin Buddhist Association (DKBA), issued Declaration 1/94 and totally left the KNU. The full text of the Democratic Kayin Buddhist Association is as follows:

Democratic Kayin
Buddhist Association
Declaration 1/94
21 December 1994

1. With a view to establishing a peaceful Kayin State, the Democratic Kayin Buddhist Association (DKBA) was formed on the 4th Waning of Nadaw 1356, 21 December 1994.

2. The rough programme of the Democratic Kayin Buddhist Association is as follows:

a. We shall strive toward building a peaceful life for all national groups residing in Kayin State.

b. We shall strive with priority to achieving prosperity of all national groups residing in the Kayin State.

c. We shall strive for the economic wellbeing of all national groups residing in the Kayin State.

d. We shall strive with all our might for the thriving and perpetuation of the race, religion and customs of all the national groups residing in the Kayin State.

3. Details of the organizational set-up will be issued separately.

Democratic Kayin
Buddhist Association


The DKBA was formed as an emergency temporary measure. Forces of the 1st Brigade had gradually arrived at Myainggyingu and joined forces. The day after DKBA was formed, 22 December 1994, about a 60-strong armed group from the 6th Brigade arrived and joined forces. With much respect, Bo Cha Teik and his men of 1st Company, 19th Battalion, Bo Kyaw Kaleh of 2nd Company, 21st Battalion and Bo Takee and his men of 5th Company, 104th Battalion paid obeisance to Myainggyingu Sayadaw Bhaddanta Thuzana.

KNU 1st Brigade Chairman Phado Tha Htoo Kyaw sent Phado Larba and an armed group of 50. This heartened the DKBA men. The KNU forces were watching developments.

The formation of the DKBA on 21 December 1994 and its total departure from the KNU was a hard blow to them. However, pretending not to know, the KNU sent out despatches saying the five-point agreement was signed on 15 December 1994, that the 8-point presentation of U Tin Aung of the mediation committee at the confluence of the rivers was signed by KNU representative Phado Ba Thin and Buddhist representative Sayadaw U Thumingala and that conciliation had been achieved with Bo Pya of Thumwehta.

When he realized that men of KNU 1st Brigade had gone over, Brigade Commander Colonel Kyaw Lin asked those under him on the wireless:

"Major Ye Din, Major Myint Thein, who is close to Ywahay? Where is Bo Moe Nyo? I heard he has gone with the other group. I know he is stirring unrest after moving off to Ba Aye and Win Maung's side. Arrest them. There's one incident on Kyaw Heh's side. It's peaceful at Central now. Have Pan Sein and Win Oo returned to Captain Sepeh?..."

Major Ye Din responded.

"Major Myint Thein is now in Thaton area. I think Major Ywa Hay is near the Kyaung village. I'll make enquiries about Bo Moe Nyo by wireless whether it is true or not. Pan Sein and Win Oo are now back with Captain Sepeh".

"Hey, Major Ye Din, disorder at Hpa-an is extensive. You'd better ask Tha Htoo Kyaw to try to make the people understand the situation. Nothing happened in the remaining townships. It is confined to Hpa-an Township alone".

"I'll tell Phado Tha Htoo Kyaw to carry out organizational work. I'll make someone find out about the strength of Ba Aye's group. It will be difficult to arrest them if the strength is between 20 and 30. I'll issue orders to carry on work that is to be done in the area after enquiries. As this problem broke out we missed the chance to attack the military convoys of Na Wa Ta. The followers too..."

The voice in the wireless was inaudible.

"The followers?...What happened to them Ye Din?..."

Col. Kyaw Lin got impatient and asked again.

"They were dumbfounded and didn't know what to do..."answered Major Ye Din, combat commander of 1st Brigade. Col. Kyaw Lin said no more and he switched off the wireless.

On 26 December 1994, members of DKBA group at Myainggyingu paid obeisance to the Sayadaw and drank water of loyalty pledging their allegiance. They reorganized the DKBA as Democratic Kayin Buddhist Organization (DKBO). The armed force of the organization was formed as the Democratic Kayin Buddhist Army.

Six Sayadaws including Myainggyingu Sayadaw were elected patrons of the DKBO. The Central Committee was made up of nine members including Central Committee Chairman Tha Htoo Kyaw. Twelve members were appointed in the affairs committee. The armed strength was about 1,000.

The DKBO then issued the announcement No. 2/94 dated 28 December 1994. The following is the text of the DKBO announcement:

Democratic Kayin
Buddhist Organization
Announcement No 2/94
28 December 1994

1. Democratic Kayin Buddhist Association in paragraph 1 of the Announcement No 1/94 of the Democratic Kayin Buddhist Association is amended as Democratic Kayin Buddhist Army (DKBA) and Democratic Kayin Buddhist Association as Democratic Kayin Buddhist Organization (DKBO).

2. The Democratic Kayin Buddhist Organization accepts the guidance stated in Announcement No 1/94 and will proceed to ensure consolidation of nationals, freedom of worship and equitable benefits and to perpetuate the Union.

3. This organization believes that the majority of the human race is confronted with all kinds of social sufferings due to a group of people who ignore kindness and compassion and oppress and bully the people who are weak and ignorant.

4. This organization is absolutely independent of the KNU starting from the issuing of the announcement. It is announced that all members of the Organization have resigned from the KNU.

5. In accordance with this conviction, we announce that our organization will form different levels of the following bodies with the aim of setting the people free from all social sufferings and establish peaceful state in order that the noblest of worldly values such as political, economic and religious freedom may be enjoyed equitably with consideration among fellow human beings.

(a) Patrons comprising six members of the Sangha including U Thuzana as chairman,

(b) Central Committee members comprising nine including U Tha Htoo Kyaw as Chairman and necessary committees under its control will be formed,

(c) Democratic Kayin Buddhist Army HQ and units under its command will be formed as necessary.

Democratic Kayin Buddhist Organization

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