Burmese Independence Leader Dies in China

Posted October 10th, 2012 at 3:05 pm (UTC-5)
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One of the last surviving Burmese independence leaders has died in exile.

Former Brigadier General Kyaw Zaw died Wednesday at a hospital in southern China, where he had lived since fleeing Burma in 1976. He was 93.

Kyaw Zaw rose to prominence as one of the “30 Comrades” who led the fight for Burma's independence from Britain in the 1940s, and he was a founding member of the Burmese communist party. He fled to China 35 years ago due to differences with the military junta ruling Burma at the time.

Former Burmese Army Chief U Tin Oo, who fought alongside Kyaw Zaw for Burmese independence, praised him for pushing for the fair treatment of the country's ethnic minorities. Now with the opposition National League for Democracy party, U Tin Oo told VOA that Kyaw Zaw's death is a great loss for Burma.

Kyaw Zaw had been in poor health and recently expressed a desire to return from China to make a final visit and pay his respects at the Shwedagon Pagoda in Rangoon, one of Burma's most revered Buddhist sites.

Burmese officials granted permission for Kyaw Zaw to return, but he was too weak to make the trip. A top government official told VOA's Burmese Service that the offer to return still stands for Kyaw Zaw's daughters, who lived with him in China.