Contact: Roland Watson, roland@dictatorwatch.org


February 17, 2008

Please forward.

Please also see the associated note.

A great leader for the cause of freedom in Burma, and a man who dedicated his life to ending the suffering of his own Karen people, has been murdered. This is an unparalleled loss, but one from which we will recover. We will honor his memory and reinvigorate our fight. His dream will not die.

I met Padoh Mahn Sha a number of times, and was honored to consider him a friend. He was highly intelligent and moral. When others lost their way, he remained steadfast on the path to freedom. This is an essential attribute of a true leader: one cannot bend with the twists and turns of outrageous fortune.

He also supported Dictator Watch’s real activities. We have lost a critical ally.

Padoh Mahn Sha preferred that the problems in Burma be resolved with honest negotiation, a position that he repeated again and again. Yet he also understood that one must not relent, that we need to be strong and never compromise until freedom is achieved. This distinguished him from the many people in the pro-democracy movement who have basically given up and are ready to make peace with Than Shwe, whatever the cost.

A portrait of his wife, Nant Kyin Shwe, who died in July 2004 at the age of 61, hung above his meeting table. Looking at her serious expression, you thought to yourself, I have to do the right thing. Many people have died, and are continuing to die, at the hands of the SPDC. We have to keep going, until the junta is eradicated from the face of the earth, and all the people of Burma can experience, in most cases for the very first time in their entire lives, the inexpressible relief of freedom.