Naw Seng


Naw Seng
   (1922-1972)
   A Kachin military commander who served with distinction in the Northern Kachin Levies during World War II and was twice decorated by the British. In 1946, he became a captain in the First Kachin Rifles and fought Communist Party of Burma (CPB) rebels in 1948, earning himself the reputation of being the "terror" of communists who had established a base at Pyinmana in southern Mandalay Division. In February 1949, however, he joined forces with the Karen National Union uprising against the government of Prime Minister U Nu, apparently because his harsh treatment of Burman (Bamar) communist rebels had aroused criticism in government circles and because he could not bear to fight against fellow Christian Karens (Kayins). In March, his forces briefly occupied Mandalay and then moved south, hoping to assist KNU-affiliated Karen National Defence Organization troops fighting at Insein (now Insein Township) adjacent to Rangoon (Yangon). They reached Pegu (Bago) but then retreated northward to Shan State. Naw Seng hoped to establish the independence of the Kachins from the Union of Burma, and his Pawngyawng National Defence Force (Pawngyawng being the name of the republic he wanted to establish), organized in November 1949, was the first Kachin antigovernment insurgency. In 1950, he crossed the border into China, where he remained until January 1968, when he returned to northern Shan State as head of the CPB's Northeastern Command. To his dismay, he had to fight not only the Tatmadaw but also the anticommunist Kachin Independence Army. He died in March 1972, reportedly having "fallen off his horse" (or a cliff), although the demise of this colorful and much-admired rebel leader might have been ordered by the CPB, who considered him too independent and an overly zealous Kachin patriot.

Historical Dictionary of Burma (Myanmar). . 2014.

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