The Pa-Oh People (continue)

The People

The Taunghsu so called by the Shan are well known all over Thailand and Cambodia, and as far as the Lower Mae Khong-about Kassac and the rapids of the thousand Islands. In the Shan Highland plateau, they are cultivators. When they travel abroad they are most commonly known as elephant and horse dealers.

The Taunghsu called themselves Pa-Oh which immediately suggests Pwo(Pwaoh). The Taunghsu form more than one half the population of the Myelat, and the state of Has-Htumg( His-saing) is so completely Taunghsu that the chief is of that race. Elsewhere they are found in majority, all over the eastern part of the southern Shan state, but they do not spread northwards where there are the black and striped Karen which compose 15% of the population of the Shan state. In Lower Burma they are found in Sittang and Salween river vallies.

There are two distinct groups-the lowland and highland Pa-oh with two dissimilar economic way of life which builds a social gap between the two in their national advancement. The lowland Pa-oh with the construction of railways and roads, find their movement easier and quicker. This elevate their standard of living. The progress made by the lowland Pa-oh is found to exceed far more than that of the highland Pa-oh. Living mostly among the Pwaoh and Sgaoh, the lowland Pa-oh enjoy a more secure and quiet village life than those in villages in proximity to the Burmese villages on the main roads and river banks. A few by force of environment of social pollution, allow themselves to be Burmanized. But the majority maintaining loyalty to their mother tongue and national identity, prevent themselves to be a vanishing race.

Though they are opportune for educational progress, most Pa-oh do not encourage their children continue for higher education, and take less interest in the participation of civil and military services. The few who enter the services bear themselves to be good characters and receive high esteem for their trust worthiness.

On the whole, the lowland Pa-oh are cultivators, and as land owners, they are thrifty and modest not to fall into debt. During the world depression of the thirties, it was found that a very few lands belonging to the Pa-oh farmers lost to the Indian money lenders-the Chettiyars.

The main occupation is growing the staple food paddy. After the harvest, they enter into the cold season cultivation where dew is the deciding factor for good cash crop. After storing paddy for their family yearly consumption in the barns, the surplus paddy is sold to the brokers who collected the paddy in the country and recultivation consists mainly of two crops-peanut and tobacco for cash, and vegetables are grown for home consumption, as a practice to be independent of their neighbors.

Money derived from their cultivation is spent frugally on family welfare but liberally on the enjoyment of festivals and still lavishly on “Merit making” . It has been observed that religious practices are still extravagant and even more elegant as modernization takes place in the country.

As “Law and Order” takes care of the public security, martial arts as a measure for self-defense”, is no more an important exercise. Among the lowland Pa-oh, who, inlarge number, are well-to-do farmers . Like others, they too suffer when the Burmese Socialist Economic Construction comes into force and totalitarian system is imposed on everyone in the country.

The highland Pa-oh to this day adhered to their national tradition and culture, which to such an extent, an indication of conservativism. But still the distribution of population is more in density as compared to that of the neighbouring Shan. As a matter of fact, the highland Pa-oh population is several times more than those in the lowland where there are many Pa-oh big villages (over five hundred houses). Whereas, in the highland, villages are of equal size and located within an equal distance from one of another. The Pa-oh population concentrated mainly in the two districts-Taunggyi and Loilem and area not over 8,000 square miles. The land is a rolling high plateau, interrupted with a few high mountain ranges, stretching from Kong Sang in the North towards the Karenni border in the South, and an expanse of fertile land roughly from Pawnlaung river in the west and Salween river in the reaching Thailand border.

Inlay Lake, noted for its floating villages, is situated in the middle of the land. People of In-lay, known as In-Tha, speak a Burmese dialect, but unlike the Burmans, they are industrious. Each village specialized in a particular trade, such as, gold or silver works, black smithy, weaving and other handicrafts. Besides the home industry, pieces of land constructed in the lake where cultivation of high yield crops are for commercial produce. Fish is abundant here.

Higher on the hill sides live the Yaung-Yo who speaks a different Burmese dialect to that of the In-Tha. They are less developed and live mainly on dry cultivation. Along side the Taung-yo are Pa-Laung who still live in long houses. On the whole, these are the few people who contributed to the growth of the land.

Since the Pa-oh are the majority, the national economy is virtually in their hands. Inveterate as they are, the Pa-oh live on the Mother Earth and take good care of it. In their rudiment ways, they conserve the soil by rotation of crops and periodically leave portions of the land for animal grazing, enabling the droppings to scatter in the fields. There are lands for rice, wheat, garlic. Peanut, potatoes, soy bean, all kinds of pulses, and plantations for sain-la (mulberry leaves for Burmese cheroots) tea, coffee and other fruit trees. Fruit trees flourish here so richly that any processing of canned industry would benefit the pa-oh growers. One foreign firm once constructed a canning factory in this area. It was, however, he nationalized and the plant was shifted to Mandalay where tin provision was manufactured for the military use.

A village life is an all day toil in the field and it is uniform everywhere. Morning starts with hustle bustle of womanfloks preparing to go to work. First, early in the morning, they cook and prepare food for the family while the men (heads of the families) chant their daily meditation before the family shrine. With mid-day lunch in the baskets which are slung across their shoulders they gather their hoes and hurry towards their respective fields. Weeding and harrowing are easily done by the hoe, and done the whole day long. There is a break at mid-day during which the workers partake their lunch and have some rest.

The elders, having chores to finish at home, leave late in the morning. First they let loose the cattle penned during the night. The cow dung and excretion of the animals are collected and heaped in the pit prepared for fermentation. This is one method where organic manure is prepared from the refuse of the domestic animals, the Pa-oh rear. The animals are domesticated not for milk or meat, but for the soil of the Mother Earth. These cattle are herded by hired persons who separate one herd from the other in the fields reserved for grazing. The number of heads of the cattle is usually between 90 to 100 and there are three or four herds belonging to a village. In the evening again the elders leave for home early as they have to round up the cattle for the night. The young, however, usually return from the fields at dust time less if they are seen returning while there is day light, neighbors would say they are lazy.

Night time is usually quiet but occasionally interrupted by a mute musical note denoting the name of the girl for courting. Serenade by the teenagers are common on the musical instrument used is the flute attached to the dried shell of gourd fruit. The art is to stimulate the romantic feeling of the girl for courting and only rustic way of life could appreciate it in feeling. The courting custom is made at night time. The man comes up to the house and occupy a place by the hearth which is a communal place where the house-hosts should sit near the fire, to keep themselves warn before going to bed. Nor understaindable he has no business with the elders who in all formality play host to him till it is time for them to retire to bed.

Sometimes, there is only a couple left to themselves, but very often a number of boys and girls sit around the fire place and talk right into the night. There is nothing as hands holding, hugging and kissing. Generally in every village, there is only one rooster for crowing and which gives times signal. By custom, when this rooster starts crowing the young people take their leave and go home. When the man and girl fall in love, the parents or the guardians take charge and made necessary arrangement for their marriage. Formal wedding ceremony is not an elaborate event. Normally, the bride and groom would make their vow in the presence of the elders who would tie of coil strings on their hands while wishing them well and good. The simple formality binds the couple man and wife. Divorce cases are rare and once a man is married, he has no further romantic life to go flirting, as the wife takes care of his comfort and need.

Flirting is generally permitted to take place in the open when working in the fields. The man has to learn to play the flute well if he wishes to be a good flirt. During midday rest, the young flirt would play a particular tune on his flute, calling the name of the girl he wants to flirt with. The girl in the next field across, on hearing the flute music (if played to her) would realize straight that someone is wanting to flirt with her. If she is in the mood, all she has to do is walk up and down in the field, indicating that she too wants to flirt. What follow is the boy continues to play his flute with the love songs. Sometimes they would leave their fields and meet halfway where they would flirt. But, it is a clean flirtation.

The peasant life is not drudgery but equally enjoyed by the Pa-oh. Tenant is not known, and instead “aid and loan” labor system is a traditional communal practice to solve labor problem, when and where extra laborer is needed to finish the work in time. Loan of labor is paid back with an equal amount of labor loaned. Communal labor as to public works such as roads and bridges is undertaken as a responsibility and needs no urge.

With a voluntary sense of duty, the villages are kept clean. Water for public utility and sanitation are provided for in every village. Village monastery is understood to be the symbol of Buddhist establishment where religious festival takes place and commences from. As parents are head of a family, monks in large measure, take great care to maintain the morality of the villagers. Drunkenness and rowdiness are not encouraged in the village. Killing of animals, wild or domestic, as a part of Buddhist teaching, is prohibited in the village vicinity. Should there be any bad character in a village, one in a thousand and incorrigible, the elders and the monks banish the said man for life.

Leading a simple life, the dress the Pa-oh prefer, is made plain from black colouued material, preferable of high quality. Man wears a pair of pants, girdled at the waist, over a shirt on top of which is worn a jacket. The woman wears a garment, a sort aof camisole, under a smock-frock and over it is a cardigan of velvet or serge, and black of dark blue are favorite colures. To keep herself warn and to prevent insect bites, legging are used. Both man and woman war turbans of bold color with prominent patterns in variety, done up in fashion particularly not in the same style as that of the Shan. The head dress of a woman is elaborate, and the turban is fashion to symbolize the head of a flying dragon ( the matriarchal symbolic). The hair is done up in a chignon and a large hair pin denotes the status of wealth the wearer has.

All Pa-oh are cultivators, and such as they are, there is no distinction in class behavior among them. All possess the means of production and each is independent in the economic life. Not one is hampered by any social discrimination. Among the people a classless society is prevailed, and as Buddhists, the concept of being rich or poor depends on the amount of merits one contributes in life.

“Merit making” is the pivot of the Pa-oh economic life. They are not extravagant in taste and enjoy religious festivals. They make pilgrimage to distant religious centers to worship and give donation- the practice which is meant “merit making”. After they would return home and resume the daily toil- to work and save up for another “merit making”.

Significantly, monastery is the mainstream of Pa-oh culture and traditional custom. Monastery plays the largest part in the molding of cohesiveness and national spirit without which national units would not have been possible. It, however, is not only established to conduct religious ceremony but to promote and guide the people in moral armament and social security.

There are many monks who follow the steps of their predecessors and continue to do research in the know ledge of herbal, and from it they teach the native herbalists and their medication. Normally, the medicine is extracted from the herb (root, stem and leave) and prepared as a powdered condiment. In some cases, boiled herb water is used as fomentation and ablution in cases of pain and burn. The condensation of hard-boiled herb-water is used as medicine in chronic diseases. Though the preparation is not perfect form medication, it has produced good result where no modem medical aid could reach people in remote places.

When and where modem health programmed covers and an area, the general public health in that certain area, has improved remarkably. However, it is yet early to dispense with the herbalists and their medication. It is deplorable that the infant mortality rate is high and the span of life is very short. The death rate of middle age is very high because the demand of hard labor of them is acute.

The knowledge and incentive of martial arts come from the monastery which is the centre of every festival. There, in the monastery, are sets of drums and gongs, big and small. A variety to suit any occasion called for. The beating of drums and gongs, the band is played by villagers. The band is practiced and played and to complete the exercise, one of two persons would roll up their trousers and step out to perform the arts as taught to them in their early age. It is the monks who induce the art to the youngsters with the fundamental of self-defense.

Historically, the reputation of the Pa-oh swordsmanship had been played down. There were many instances where Pa-oh swordsmen were engaged in battles. Ba Yin Naung, the warrior, mobilized a contingent of Pa-oh swordsmen in the attack and occupation of Ava and Alaung Paya with his Pa-oh cavalry in the invasion of Siam.

From the monastery, young Pa-oh are induced with the desire that self-defence is an essential art for manhood. As they grow older and in their teens, they undergo a series of training under capable masters. The training is done in the jungle. First, the lesson of freehand art is taught, then with stick or staff; when this art is mastered, sword fencing is taught last and for gradation. On graduation, each student is to fight his way through the gates where swordsmen are planted to cut him down. The art itself is a combination of Karate and judo, but locally is known as “lai dong and Lai swa”.

The characteristic traits of the Pa-oh people are: loyalty, honesty, and their love of a peaceful life. Their taste is simples though their hospitality (like all members of the Karen race) is proverbial. As cultivators, they are industrious and learn the hard way to conserve the land they till so that they would be self-sufficient and may not be in want to feed themselves. They understand the value of independence from their toil.

On the whole, the simple life they persue helps them to be humble and gracious. The learn to suffer silently whatever hard ship mated out to them. But when human self-restraint comes under stress and strain, it snaps to let loose uncontrollable temper. The Pa-oh are not the exception. The turn of history is like the writing on the wall; for, the destiny of a people is defined by its own men of principle who, in time of crucial period, stand up for the right to lead their own people.

An Emerging Nation and against Feudalism

Feudalism in the Shan Highland Plateau was a typical and hereditary ruling class emerged rather than nominally based on autonomous manors. Classical European pattern of feudalism did not evolve here. Under the British colonial administration and recognition, the authority of the feudal lords went unchallenged. How much severe the people were downtrodden socially, politically and economically, they dare not complain.

By the time Taunggyi was occupied, the national aspiration, National Spirit, patriotism, loyalty and self-confidence were restored as national values. Hitherto worse was the case of the Pa-oh people. Under the alien feudal authority, as it is the way of the world when there was no leader to stand up for the principle the Pa-oh continued to exist as the oppressed and the only law over them was the law of the strong. They were not treated as a people to be fostered and nurtured for progress, but ruled over as a class only for exploitation by the ruling class for their own betterment.

Public functions and festivals were numerous and organized to conduct public gambling from which the henchmen collected taxes and fees to enrich their masters and themselves. Opium cultivation was promoted as a source of tax. Every family was allowed to distil rice wine which could be sold openly. Gambling, drunkenness and opium smoking were vices which were the roots of robbery and theft. Crimes occurred frequently and become uncontrolled. There was no law and order as it would under a democratic society where there were very few minions.

Under the corrupt and bad system, the people lost all appreciation of social and moral values. Aimless and bewildered, yet they still hoped for a better future, while they submitted themselves to the will of the repressive environment. It was appalling to perceive how humble the Pa-oh were demeaned to behave. In public eating shops, they were not allowed to eat on the tables but to use the ground floor. What humiliation and degrading treatment they suffered in those days under feudalism.

In post World War II, a disaster almost as bad as a calamity prevailed in the form of disease, lack of food, scarcity of currency, for the Japanese currency was invalid, dacoity and hooliganism were rampant. It was not only the Pa-oh but also the other races as well. Greediness and self-centerness made men lose their morals. The feudal lords were no exception. Instead of eradication the vices which damaged the social life of the people they ruled, they selfishly exploited on them. And the good people suffered the worst. Thus the bad situation was doubly increased under feudalism, and there was no social security for them.

For every disease there is a cure. To cure it is to attack and destroy the cause. During these darkest days, there were still men of principle, nationalists and patriotic monks. A few in number may they be but, were dedicated and determined to save the people from the living hell. An open attack on the feudal system, verbal or any other means was not advisable. It was premature and would hasten the fast deteriorated situation to get out of had, from worse to worst. But the good mass was already in the mood to be organized. They needed leaders to follow. They wanted reform.

For reform, the prime movers were (1) Sayadaw U Thu Riya, the most influential Abbot among the Burmese monks, ( 2) Sayadaw U Htut Nandah, the noted scholar who recoined the Pa-oh written language, (3) Sayadaw U Gandamah, the Pa-oh written language, (3) Sayadaw U Gandamah, the great national organizer and the torchbearer for the liberation from feudalism.

They together with other enthusiastic reformists among the monks and laymen, contrived a movement. First they formed a pilot movement as an initial programmed for moral-rearmament, seemingly not to be a hostile action against the feudal ruling class. They formed several cells of monks who conducted special religious services for the public. They preached to the gatherings and delivered messages of the immorality. As more attendants were won over, the movement was expanded. It was soon found out that the mass were all ears to hear the message on moral-rearmament. When the public response gained strength and in momentum, several monk associations were formed. These monk associations took up the challenge against vices and preached about the evils derived from the abuse of these vices. The pilot movement on moral-rearmament, the active challenge against vices and the consequences awakened the public who by this time regained their self-confidence. They aspired for reform, to take better care of their lives, their villages, communities, religion and country. The public response was then significantly positive.

By the end of 1946, a direct challenge and attach was launched- a movement for the eradication of all vices. The movement publicly called for the immediate eradication of the followings;-

1. Opium and all intoxication
2. Gambling
3. The ruling class taking lesser wives, and
4. Poaching and butchering in the vicinity of the monasteries and village

The active attack on immorality practiced by the ruling class, though verbal, was violent and damaging in the public. The denunciation made, revealed the ugliest image of them. Many repented and reformed. By the end of 1947, “Pa-oh Long Bu” – Pa-oh Solidarity was established. From this “Pa-oh Long Bu” besides the Pa-oh, all the other races became politically awakened.

During this period, the three existing organizations were:- the Asia Youth Organization, the Shan State Independence Organization and the “Pa-oh Long Bu” ( Pa-oh Solidarity). With the support of the mass, they joined rank and launched intensive attack on the feual system and fought for democracy.

Very soon retaliation took place. The lackeys with the support of the levies and police intensified their suppression on the mass. Then the conflict between the mass and the feudal lords come to a crucial state. By the end of 1948, for village security, Sayadaw U Gandamah, organized militiamen with arms they seized from the Sawbwas feudalist levies. This action encouraged the other local leaders to follow suit. Soon the Naung Ka villagers organized themselves as militia men and conducted a movement against the feudal ruling class. Thus among the Pa-oh, they said, “The revolution started first at Kyautk-ta-lone and second at Naung Ka”.

Under the Colonial Rule

The Burmans were the favoured majority and helped the British to exploit on the country. Though the British police surveillance for law and order checked the racial hostility at bay, the policy of the British “divide and rule” bred distrust and hatred between the privileged and the non-privileged, or the majority and minority, the latter who had the obsession that they were still being subjected to the dominance of the Burmese superiority especially in the fields of social uplifting and in the public services.

The introduction of western education hastened the advancement and progress of the Burmese people in prosperity, many to become elite in the public services. In the early years, when there were only Christian schools, many Burmese parents sent their children to be educated from which they obtained good position in the civil administrative offices. The Karen Anglo-Vernacular schools could not encourage Pa-oh parents to send their children for better education. For, they feared and suspected that the Christian missionary were to destroy Buddhism.

Before and after World War I, Burmans were encouraged to study law, civil services, political science and such akin subjects, primarily to train civil servants. With profound social changes, Rangoon University, established at the end of World War I, became the centre of the Student Body for political activity. The Burmans began to organize themselves politically. First, Young Man Buddhist Association was formed to forment nationalism among the students, the majority of which studied in Christian schools, where morality and discipline were maintained. Later on, the Grand Council of Buddhist Association was formed to represent the entire Burmese community. Political agitation took in its stride, perpetrated a student strike in 1921. The strike was sparked by the Burmese students in the Cushing Baptist High School on the allegation that Christian teaching did not flatter Buddhism. The Student body took up the issue and launched a country wide student strike for constitutional change and home rule. Pa-oh students, studying in Karen schools which did not take part in the strike, perceived how the strike was manipulated for political intrigue. In retrospection, they reiterated stories retold about their ancient achievement. Then, they were confirmed in their belief that education was the pillar for growth and nationalism was the driving force. This prompted the Pa-oh to identify their political aspiration with the Karen National Association ( KNA).

In the thirties, before the World War II the Saya San Peasant Rebellion was staged in support for Home Rule. But the Karen National Association (KNA) fought for communal representation in the assembly with the advocation of the separation of Burma from India. With Pa-oh national leaders taking active part in the political struggle, The Karen National Association (KNA) had the united support from all Karen communities; and the Burmese ire was nonetheless irritated.

In 1942, there was a certain change-the upheaval of Pa-oh sentiment from sluggishness. It was motivated from the fact that the ever docile Karen ( in the Delta) stood up gallantly against the Burmese brutal attacks. The political awakening was on hand, at the threshold when Dr. Ba Maw as the Prime Minister, to form an interim government chose Pa-oH Hla Pe to serve under him as the Minister for Forestry and Agriculture. To the best of his ability, Pa-oh Hla Pe partly utilized his good offices as a staging ground for future leadership. When the Burma campaign was about to end, many Pa-oh guerrillas and freedom fighters in Shan Highland Plateau organized themselves under local leaders. When official contact was made with col. Tulloch, a commander under Col. Peacock, commander of Force 136, the Pa-oh irregulars, in conjunction with “Operation Character”, seiged and occupied Hsi Saing, Banyin, and Loiput. Here they constructed road blocks to the retreating Japanese army from Shan Highland Plateau to Toungoo. At the end of the war many were cited in certificates of merits for valuable services rendered for war effort and a few were awarded with the double barrel guns during the Durbar held in LoiKar. But Pa-oh Hla Pe was suspected as being the prime mover of Pa-oh resistance and was taken to Thanbyu-Zayat for questioning. After suffering brutal outrages at the hands of the Kampetai, he was at last released.

The war ended and therein urshered a new breed of Burmese nationalists who had training under the Japanese political pre-eminence. They formed the Anti-Fascist Peoples Freedom League( A.F.P.F.L) representing the majority opinion of the Burmans, preponderously to dominate the will of the indigenous races.

The K.N.A changed its sign board to the Karen National Union ( KNU) a move to encompass all the diversed Karen communities with the self-expression the Karens did not trust the bad intentions of the Burmese nationalists. Once the British left, they would be vulnerable to brutal treatments at the hands of the hostile Burmese elements. The Pa-oh people with an instinct of self-preservation joined the K.N.U. Pa-oh Hla Pe was elected as the vice-President of the K.N.U. In all appearance the Karen race was united, but soon the enemy won over the renegades who separately formed the Karen Youth Organization ( K.Y.O) . Many Pa-oh leaders in the Highland Plateau Joined. U Kyaw Sein became the Vice-President of the K.O.O. But the Karen mass did not forget their bitter experience during the Japanese occupation.

The Burmese nationalists wanted independence in one year and that they did not want Burma to be dismembered. The stipulation of the British White Paper for Burma was that Burma proper would attain independence in three years’ time on the signing of the agreement and that the Frontier Areas would still remain under the British care. They threatened country wide rebellion. London summoned Aung San who met with Attlee. On assurance from Aung San that the A.F.P.F.L would form a democratic government with suitable autonomous privileges to the frontier peoples, Attlee conceded on the verbals statement. Aung San-Attlee agreement was concluded. Aung San came back and started to woo the frontier leaders. He made promises, gave assurance; and when that failed, he used coercion and intimidation.

To Attlee, Aung San did not say anything about 50-50 for the Karen and the Burman as he did it to Lord Mount Batten in Kandy meeting. The political fate of the Karen race was at stake and they were worried. The K.N.U sent a delegation to London to put up their case but was told to talk it over with their counter parts. However, London sent Rees Williams to chair the Frontier Areas Enquiry Committee. During the first hearing at Rangoon, Witnesses from the K.N.U, to the question asked, “ Why do you not want independence with Burmans?” , gave similar answers that the karens do not trust the Burmans. But on the second hearing in May Myo, a couple of Karens from Papun hills stated that they wanted independence along with the Burmans. There were two sets of testimony and the legal practice and procedure called for a new hearing where the authenticity of the testimonies given by the witnesses could be ascertained. But it was observed that the British Labour government wanted a hasty exit. So next came Major Bottomley ( Now Lord Bottomley) to coordinated the Panglong Treaty. Mr. H.N.C Stevenson was then the director of Frontier Administration and knew the evils and woes of Burmese politics. On many occasions he warned the frontier leaders not to commit themselves in any political agreement with the Burmans. He was frustrated when his warming fell on dead ears. When his protest to the Governor strongly against the PangLong Tready failed, he put up his resignation and forfeited his life pension. On the first day negotiation for Panglong Treaty nearly all the frontier leaders were reluctant to endorse the treaty, But the next morning saw every one bent to the will of Aung San. And so Major Bottomley concluded the treaty to the expressed wish of Aung San.

The Thaton district, predominantly Karen was to become a testing ground. The Socialist Kyaw Nyein ( A.F.P.F.L) launched a land Reform Programmed by which the lands belonging to the Karen, Pa-oh and Mon were to be distributed to the landless Burmans. This infuriated the land owners, who, if not guided, would take action by themselves, which would be disastrous. In March 1947, Pa-oh Hla Pe organized a mass rally for the demonstration against the Land Reform programmed. Nearly all the man folks from Pa-oh villages turned out to show unity and strength. A multitude of not less than 10,000 assembled at a Pa-oh monastery from where a procession of a peace loving people took place, to demand justice. When the demonstrators passed by the Socialist office, the unruly Burmans from the office started flaying obscene expression and made fun of the Pa-oh farmers. Though the demonstration was meant to be peaceful, things went out of hand when some of the marchers broke out from the procession and attacked the miscreants from the office. The office was ransacked and pulled down. However, the procession reached the District Commissioner’s Office where they handed in their petition to the District Commissioner. They demanded that:-

1. They be called and known as Pa-oh ( and not as Taungthu)
2. The Land Reform Programmed be cancelled , and
3. Two battalions of Pa-oh soldiers be formed in the Burma Army.

Sometimes later, the Government Gazetteer issued one publication to the effect that, such people known “Taungthu” , herein after shall be known as Pa-oh.

No answer was made to the other two demands. However, the socialist activity came to an end soon the incidence was forgotten.

When Aung San formed his Burma Defense Army he failed to foresee the tragedy that his rank and file would subsequently segregate themselves into distinct groups according to the political ideology absorbed by them in the course of their career. With the prospect of independence in view, the army officers had struggled along with the politicians who, after independence, wielded more power and ostentatiously profited more by it. The army officers were disgruntled and since Aung San was dead they had no allegiance to honour but to themselves. They were prone and vulnerable to chances of personal power and glory, acquisition of rights and privileges and ventilation of grievances. Than Tun launched a personal offensive against the constitution and able to wedge a division between the socielists and the People Voluntary Organization who fought for power inside the ranks of A.F.P.F.L. Than Tun by this time had infiltrated into the Army and won over officers to his side. Three months after the independence, Burma was torn country wide with internal strife as Than Tun led his Communist Party of Burma in active rebellion.

The power struggle within the A.F.P.F.L caused the dissension which followed among the indigenous parties and factions. In the country side, armed decocting bands roamed and looted the unprotected villagers, while the rebelling communists demanded personal services from the mass. There was no security and to protect their lives and property, the K.N.U began to form defense units and named it the Karen national Defense Organization ( K.N.D.O). The K.N.U believed that unless the Karen race was adequately armed they would be easily opened to abuse, insult and brutal attacks. Soon nearly all villages were protected b small detachments K.N.D.O. Many Pa-oh leaders came out to the call; notably, Boh Tah Kara of Pyu Township, Boh Pyu of Tantabin Township, Boh Ye Htut of Thaton and others who organized their K.N.D.O to protect Pa-oh villages.

U Nu was the first Prime Minister, versatile in political intrigue. In his handling of the Karen case, he used flattery with honeyed words. He often sibly welcomed the K.N.U assurance that the Karen would not use force in the quest for a Karen state. But when his Police Auxiliary Force- the Sitwuntaing which he built up secretly, was in preparedness, he proffered a challenge to the Karen in a firm tone that they would have to fight for it if they wanted a Karen state. U Nu had thrown down his gauntlet. The decision was made and U Nu was determined to destroy the Karen race.

In a country where are diverse races with different culture, custom and manner, ethnical traditional and background, nationalism can not be itemized for the integration of assimilation of the indigenous races into one homogenous unit. It is definitely chauvinism. When the Burmese nationalism breeds racial antagonism, the law of reciprocation crops up. The Karen who are the second largest race next to the Burmese, stood up to honour their national dignity and to prove that nationalism is not ill-gotten in the battle field of life and death.

U Nu said the first shot was not fired in Insein. It was correct and he knew it because he had set his Sitwuntaing to massacre Karen villagers at Wet-Net-Chaung a week earlier than the attack made on Insien. And so the war between the majority Burma and the minority Karen race started on January 31, 1949. Soon the Mon National Defense Organization joined in the fight.

It was not a rebellion. It was the the K.N.D.O and M.N.D.O who took military action to protect their races for national survival against the genocidal attacks of the numerous Burmese armed forces not only the Sitwuntaings and the Burma Army – the Burma Communist party, the people voluntary Organization and the Army deserters who actually were in active rebellion against the government, now joined rank and attacked the K.N.D.O. and the M.N.D.O. from all sides. It was the characteristics of a total war of extermination. It was indeed a racial war between the majority Burman and the minorities.

In Thongoo and Thaton districts the Pa-Oh mobilized their K.N.D.O. units and took active part in the occupation of Toungoo, Nyaunglaybin and Daik-U, The K.N.D.O. moved north and occupied Taunggyi, the provincial capital of Shan State in September 1949, Boh Chan Zone, a commander of U.M.P. unit took part in the occupation and he mobilized Pa-oh armed force in the Southern Highland Plateau. From Toungoo, Pa-oh Hla Pe came up to Taunggyi where he organized his people into a political body. It was the first political-military movement ever to materialize under a national leadership.
Commander Naung Seng, presently commanding the First Kachin Rifles, formerly of the Burma Army had joined the K.N.D.O. On the first instant, he made several attempts to induce the Shan Chiefs to join them. The chiefs in the expectation that the Panglong Treaty was binding and the Burmas would honour it in time did not want to play any part which would engender quarrel with the Burmans. Commander Naung Seng and his Kachin troops marched to Kachin Sub-state. His intention was to set up bastion where the liberation of Kachin people could be staged. The prospect of arousing the Kaching people from the backwardness and to get organized politically and militarily as a measure of preparedness to meet any urgency, was ruined when the Kachin mass leaders asked him not to interrupt the prevailing peace and security the mass was having in that period. Naung Seng was frustrated. He and his troops bolted across the frontier to write a new page of history. The two races, Shan and Kachin were innocent and ignorant. But their leaders failed to see thing in the right perspective for the future, in the course of time when more evils and woes would be carved out for them, more intense in severity.


Unknown said...

thank for uploading about our PaO people and i was satisfied when i read it.
khun maung khae
India (temporary)

ခိြဳ.ပအို၀္း said...

there is mistake not KOO. Must Be KYO