- Mya, Bo
- (1927- )Also Saw Bo Mya, a prominent Karen (Kayin) insurgent leader, who has fought against the Burmese central government since the Karen National Union (KNU) uprising of January 1949. Unlike many leaders of the Karen community, he was born not in the delta of the Irrawaddy (Ayeyarwady) River but in the hilly Papun District, near the border with Thailand, and was an animist until his conversion to the Seventh-Day Adventist church in 1961. During World War II, he served as a policeman under the Japanese but also worked with Force 136. After the 1949 revolt against the government of U Nu began, Bo Mya commanded guerrillas in the Dawna Range and gained a strong economic base for his insurgency by operating "toll gates" for the cross-border trade near the town of Mae SotMyawaddy in Thailand's Tak Province; his army prospered as the black market absorbed imports from Thailand during the Ne Win era, but he did not engage in the trade in opium or other drugs.Strongly anticommunist, he purged the mainstream Karen movement of leftists in the 1960s and became chairman of a reunified KNU in 1976, a post that he held until 2000, when Saw Ba Thin Sein replaced him. He was chairman of an ethnic minority united front, the National Democratic Front, between 1976 and 1987, and became the leader of the Democratic Alliance of Burma in November 1988. With only a grade-school education, he exhibited a toughness and determination lacking in many of the more educated, urbanized Karen leaders. But the low point of his long career came with the fall of the KNU headquarters at Manerplaw in 1995, which many blamed on his allegedly heavy-handed and inflexible leadership. The Tatmadaw's success in capturing the base was caused in large measure to the defection from the KNU of the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army, whose members had become alienated from Bo Mya and other, mostly Christian, Karen leaders. On January 15, 2004, Bo Mya, as KNU vice chairman, went to Rangoon (Yangon) for talks with then Prime Minister Khin Nyunt on a cease-fire between the KNU and the State Peace and Development Council.
Historical Dictionary of Burma (Myanmar). Donald M. Seekins . 2014.
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