KNU Leader David Taw Passes Away

By Saw Yan Naing 15 October 2012

David Taw, 65, a top leader of the Karen National Union (KNU), passed away in Rangoon yesterday after several months of illness, according to family members.

Eh Kaw Taw, one of the sons of the former KNU justice department head, told The Irrawaddy on Monday that his father died at around 11 pm on Sunday night.

He said that his father had been suffering from lung disease and diabetes for three months and had been hospitalized several times in the northern Thai city of Chiang Mai for treatment.

David Taw’s body will be brought to Thai-Burmese border and buried in an area of southern Karen State controlled by Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) Brigade 7, Eh Kaw Taw added.

The date of his funeral has not yet been decided.

David Taw was regarded as a pragmatic politician who was not afraid to publicly highlight the weaknesses of the KNU. Though widely respected, he was also disliked by some other members of the KNU leadership for his outspokenness.

On Oct. 2, he and two other influential KNU leaders—Gen Mutu Say Poe and Roger Khin—from the KNU’s central committee were dismissed from the group for allegedly violating its protocols after they opened a new liaison office in Pa-an, capital of Karen State, without informing the central committee.

Eh Kaw Taw said that despite their disagreements and ideological differences, his father and the other KNU leaders all had the same goal—namely, the liberation of the Karen people.

“He loved the Karen people and shared [the KNU’s] desire for peace and the freedom of the Karen people,” said Eh Kaw Taw.

Born on March 10, 1948, in Rangoon’s Insein Township, David Taw was a graduate of Rangoon University, where he majored in history.

In an interview with The Irrawaddy in 2008, he spoke critically of the KNU leadership and said that its military wing, the KNLA, has only 3,000 soldiers, despite its claims to having 10,000 fighters.

David Taw was active in advocating peace and development in Karen State. He is survived by his wife, two sons and two of his three daughters.