Tuesday, 19 November 2019

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Karenni resistance leader dies at 81

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – Karenni militia senior leader and revolutionary General Aung Than Lay, who fought almost six decades for a separate homeland for his people, died of natural causes in a Thai hospital early this morning, an aide said. 

General Aung Than Lay, 81, also known as Mann Aung Than Lay, a permanent central committee member of the Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP), died at Sri Sangwarn Hospital in Mae Hong Son, Thailand, Khu Oo Reh, first secretary of the KNPP, told Mizzima.

“He died at around 5:30 a.m. today. His appetite was waning due to his age, making him weak, tired and short of breath,” Khu Oo Reh said. 

The death of one of the Karenni people’s great leaders, who had a forbearing nature and many revolutionary experiences, was a great loss for the Karenni revolution, the aide added. 

General Aung Than Lay joined the Union Military Police No. 13 before the Karenni revolution started on August 9, 1948, and he participated in the cause until he died.

He will be buried at Mae Surin Camp cemetery on Friday (June 3).

The KNPP was established in 1955. In March 1995, it and Burma’s ruling military junta reached a ceasefire agreement, but in June 1995, the agreement was broken. 

General Aung Than Lay told the Chinland Guardian in 2002 that “when the SPDC decided to start seizing Karenni stations and thereby reneged on this agreement a clash between the parties ensued which endures to this day”, referring to the Burmese junta’s own label, the State Peace and Development Council.  

General Aung Than Lay was born in 1919 at Yonetaw Village, Maubin Township, Irrawaddy Division. 

When Burma gained independence from Britain in 1948, the earlier separated region of Karenni State was included in its borders so the Karenni decided to reject accession. On August 9, 1948, during the government of Prime Minister U Nu government, military police attacked the main office of the Karenni National Organisation, an event that triggered the Karenni revolution. 

The Shan State-based Union Military Police No. (13), manned by Karenni, Karen, Padaung and Pao, attacked troops belonging to U Nu’s government to help the Karenni National Organisation.

General Aung Than Lay is survived by his wife, four sons and four daughters.


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