The Irrawaddy

Senior UWSA Military Leader Aik San Dies, Aged 62

MON STATE—Senior United Wa State Army (UWSA) leader Aik San died at the age of 62 on Aug. 25 at a hospital in Chiang Mai, northern Thailand, where he had been undergoing treatment for lung cancer.

Aik San, who held the position of military vice chief of staff, was a member of the UWSA’s central committee and a former member of the Communist Party of Burma.

Nyi Rang, a UWSA spokesperson based in Lashio town in northern Shan State, said a funeral would be held on Thursday. The UWSA had invited representatives of other members of the Federal Political Negotiation and Consultative Committee alliance, as well as other ethnic armed groups, he said.

Aik San was a devout Buddhist, Nyi Rang said.

“He was the greatest advocate of Buddhism in Wa State,” Nyi Rang said, adding that many ethnic Wa Buddhists were saddened by Aik San’s death.

Aik San was born in 1956. He joined the CPB in 1970. As an ethnic Wa, he stayed with the UWSA when it split from the CPB in 1989.

According to a statement from his son, Aik San joined the CPB’s Battalion 4045 in February 1973. He served as a deputy platoon leader between 1977 and 1979, when he went to Mangshi City, Yunnan Province, China to study. In 1980, he served in Battalion 4042 as a deputy political instructor.

In 1983, after the establishment of Infantry Division 418, he was shifted to Battalion Unit 082 and worked in the united front area. He served as deputy battalion commander of the unit. At the end of 1986, he was appointed as the head of the division.

In 1991, he served as chief of staff of 418 Division. In 1993, he served as deputy division commander of 418 Division. In 2001, he became division commander. In June 2005 he was made commander of 468 Division. In 2009, he was transferred to the General Political Department and served as deputy chief of staff.

He served with the CPB in 1981 on the west side of the Salween River, which was the first time the CPB had been active in central Shan State.  He was deputy commander in charge at CPB Battalion 082 at that time. Then, he cooperated with other ethnic armed groups based in southern Shan including the Karenni Nationalities People’s Liberation Front, the Shan State Nationalities Peoples’ Liberation Organization, and the Kayan New Land Party.

Saw Nyar Maw Meh, a patron of the Karenni Nationalities People’s Liberation Front (K.N.P.L.F) who fought alongside Aik San, offered his recollections of the man.

“He used to work with us as part of a joint force. We fought the enemy [the Myanmar Army] together at that time. He was chief of the joint force along with our K.N.P.L.F.,” Saw Nyar Maw Meh said.

During his time in southern Shan State, he lived with his first wife, who is mixed ethnic Shan and Pa-O. When he moved to northern Shan in 1989, however, he lived with his second wife. He returned to UWSA headquarters in Pangsan when his organization signed a ceasefire agreement with the Myanmar military regime in 1989.

“He was always friendly toward others. He could speak several languages including Shan, Pa-O, Burmese and Wa. He could read and write Burmese very well. He always had a smile when talking to us. He was very friendly,” Saw Nyar Maw Meh said.