Exiled Comrade Dies

Brig-Gen Kyaw Zaw (1919—2012)

Just a couple of weeks before his autobiography was due to be launched in Burma, former Brig-Gen Kyaw Zaw, one of the two surviving “Thirty Comrades” and ex-leader of the Burmese Communist Party, passed away on Wednesday morning in a Kunming hospital in southern China.

The 93 year-old former brigadier-general had been in intensive care for the past month. The government invited him to return to his homeland after The Irrawaddy had reported that his last wish was to pay his final respects at Rangoon’s Shwedagon Pagoda.

His daughter, Dr. Hla Kyaw Zaw, told The Irrawaddy on Wednesday that the funeral service will be arranged by the communist party.

The Burmese Communist Party issued a message of condolences on Wednesday. It said, “His ossuary should be placed side by side with [poet and peacemaker] Thakhin Kodaw Hmine’s tomb in Shwedagon Pagoda.”

Tin Oo, a former chief-of-staff in the Burmese army and a veteran of Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy, expressed his condolences to the family. He told The Irrawaddy: “I remember his words to me: ‘You look more like a student rather than a soldier’ when I was a 19-year-old at military training.”

Among the fabled 30 Comrades, Kyaw Zaw was renowned as a courageous commander and was second only to late dictator Gen. Ne Win. “The brigadier-general gave fair treatment to the ethnic peoples,” Tin Oo recalled. “He always reminded the commanders to treat the ethnics fairly, and threatened action against those who did not follow his warning.”

Born in Hsaisu village in Tharyawaddy District of Pegu Division in 1919, Kyaw Zaw titled his autobiography “From Hsaisu to Man Hi”—meaning from his birthplace to his last place of residence. The bio-epic was first published in Thailand in 2007 when any mention of his name was banned by Burma’s censors.

In 1957, he was dismissed from the armed forces for allegedly leaking military secrets. He lived in exile for 36 years after he left Rangoon in 1976 to join with his fellow communists at the Sino-Burmese border.

Kyaw Zaw leaves behind two daughters, one son, and seven grandchildren.


6 Responses to Exiled Comrade Dies

  1. I am gravely saddened that such a fine soldier and gentleman is now forever lost to Burma.
    May all the good gods look after him in his next life, if ever he believed in the Ti-Ratana.  

  2. Kyaw Zaw really a great man until he joined Ne Win to overthrow democratic government and replaced with dictatorship. His ugly history was becoming a communist which most of the citizens of Burma will never accept as the right stand for our country. He was one of thirty comrades and he will always be remembered as part of a beautiful history. At the same time, joining Ne Win in 1962 coup and later becoming communist made his image not really positive.

  3. Lived to a ripe old age like Ne Win, his erstwhile comrade in arms and commander, but what a difference.

    Selfless, dedicated, and deeply patriotic, he never wavered in his political convictions and sense of duty to the Burmese people he loved.

    One of the giants of his generation and a great role model to the younger generations, his devout Buddhist upbringing and Marxist beliefs were perfectly compatible.

    Kudos to him and sincere condolences to the family. He now belongs to the pantheon of Burma’s heroes along with Thakin Kodaw Hmaing and Aung San. May he rise to the higher planes of existence and reach Nibban.

  4. My thoughts are with you and your family. R.I.P.

  5. In remember he went to BCP ( Ba.Ka.Pa) in East
    Yoma in 1976 because BCP base in Pegu Yoma was completely destroyed
    by Burmese Army in 1968 – 69.

    I believe if Thakhin Than Tun culture revolution didn’t
    happen in 1967 and then BCP will be largest opposition army inside Burma
    today. Killing of Yebaw Htay by his own son who beaten his father throat with Bamboo
    until he died. That news was shocked all families in Buddhist country. Also
    University students Yebaw Soe Win the son of Ludu U Hla and Daw Amar and his
    friends (they defect to BPC together) were executed in 1968.

    That’s a biggest failure of Burmese Communist Party in
    history. The BCP never recover public support after Thakhin Than Tun his own culture
    revolution was carried out in Pegu Yoma.
    The killing culture revolution within BCP was over when he defected to BCP in
    1976.

    That’s why he lived until 93 years old.

     

  6. Among the fabled 30 Comrades, Kyaw Zaw was renowned as a courageous commander and was second only to late dictator Gen. Ne Win. “The brigadier-general gave fair treatment to the ethnic peoples,” Tin Oo recalled. “He always reminded the commanders to treat the ethnics fairly, and threatened action against those who did not follow his warning.”
    National Hero Kyaw Zaw should be honored forever in Burmese history.

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