Prominent Peace Negotiator Dies at 83

By Kyaw Kha 28 June 2017

Rev. Dr. Lahtaw Saboi Jum, a peace negotiator between Myanmar’s military and ethnic armed group the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO), passed away at the age of 83 on Monday.

“According to his daughter, he was bedridden for almost four years, and was not able to speak all those years because of age-related brain problems,” KIO central executive committee member Dr. La Ja told The Irrawaddy, confirming that he passed away in Yangon.

Rev. Dr. Lahtaw Saboi Jum founded the Ethnic Nationalities Mediators Fellowship together with other ethnic and spiritual leaders to broker negotiations between the government and different ethnic armed groups.

He was engaged in peace negotiations between the KIO and the government since 1980, and was an important player in brokering a ceasefire agreement between the two in 1994.

He also intervened when the military regime pressured the KIO into becoming a government militia, known as a Border Guard Force, in 2009.

In 2000, he established the Nyein Foundation to engage in peace and development works across the country. Currently, his daughter leads the foundation.

“Peace is a goal we must all reach for and try to achieve, so we are very sorry that a person who tried for peace has died. I hope the foundation he laid will help fulfill his unfulfilled wishes,” said Dr. La Ja.

He was among the first six ethnic Kachin persons to attend the Myanmar Institute of Theology in 1950. From 1993 to 2000, he served as general secretary of the Kachin Baptist Convention (KBC).

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.