A brief history of the Pa-O road to revolution

By Colonel Khun Okkar, PNLO Chairman, Friday, 22 July 2011

Khun Okkar, the chairman of the PNLO. Photo: Mizzima
(Mizzima) – The Pa-O revolution was born along with the Karen National Union (KNU) revolution in 1949. Pa-O national leader Hla Pe was then the vice-chairman of the KNU. 

After chairman Saw Ba Oo Gyi was killed in action, Hla Pe was given the chairman post but he turned it down. Then he resigned from the KNU and led the Pa-O revolution on December 11, 1949 with his Pa-O National Liberation Army (PNLA). He surrendered to then Brigadier General Aung Shwe (the current National League for Democracy chairman) in 1958 along with 1,200 troops under the slogan “arms for democracy,” and then he established a political party called the Union Pa-O National Organization (UPNO) and contested in the 1958, ’59 and ‘60 elections.

After taking power in a coup in 1962, General Ne Win arrested many political leaders including Hla Pe and other Pa-O leaders. General San Thein who was not included in those arrested Pa-O then led and reignited the Pa-O revolution in 1966 with arms that had been left in the forest. This revolution was called the second revolution of Pa-O and it is still going on.

General San Thein was killed in action in 1968. Then Chairman Takele (Karenlar) led the revolution. The organization was renamed the Shan Nationalities People’s Liberation Organization (SNPLO) to keep it compatible with the policy of the Communist Party of Burma (CPB). After being released from prison in 1969-70, Hla Pe met Pa-O students including Khun Okkar who agreed to go to the countryside. (Colonel) Khun Okkar first joined the revolution in March 1972. Hla Pe also rejoined the revolution in June 1972. Then they continued their revolution in the name of the SNPLO.

Then that organization split into two factions in September 1973. Nationalist leaders led the first faction and CPB followers led the second one. Chairman Takele led the second faction and followed the CPB line.

The first faction led by Hla Pe, Aung Kham Hti, Sayadaw Nay Mi and Kyaw Sein reestablished their organization as the Pa-O National Organization (PNO). Hla Pe became chairman and Aung Kham Hte became secretary. Hla Pe died of a disease in 1975. Kyaw Sein became chairman and Aung Kham Hti remained as secretary. Kyaw Sein retired from the party post and surrendered to the government in Taunggyi in 1979. Then Aung Kham Hti and Khun Okkar became chairman and secretary respectively.

Then the PNO was split into two factions again in 1991 when Aung Kham Hti reached a cease-fire agreement with then General Khin Nyunt. The PNO led by Aung Kham Hti contested in the 2010 general election, but he did not stand for election. Khun Okkar established the Pa-O People’s Liberation Organization (PPLO) on the Thai-Burma border.

Takele reached a cease-fire agreement with the government too in 1994 and then he disarmed. Then about 100 SNPLO soldiers led by Major Thurein came to the border and joined with the PPLO. These two factions were renamed the Pa-O National Liberation Organization (PNLO) and continue today. Its chairman is Khun Okkar and the former SNPLO is now defunct.

The PNLO headquarters is based in Burma near the Thai-Burmese border opposite Mae Hong Song. Its operational areas are in Hse Hseng, Hopong and Mawkmai townships.

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