Pu Maw La

Maw La: Saying good-bye to a hero, a leader and a friend

March, 2014
Karen State, Burma

One of the oldest Free Burma Rangers, Pu Maw La,
passed away in September, at 84 years of age. Maw La
was our dear friend, uncle, example, encourager, advisor,
enabler and a man of God. He grew up during World
War II, and as a young boy helped his father fght the
invading Japanese army in Burma. His father, Saw Digay,
was a leader of the northern Karen and worked closely
with the Allies and Major Hugh Seagrim, “Grandfather
Longlegs.” Maw La helped his father do his part in the
liberation of Burma. After World War II, the Karen and
other ethnic groups were attacked by the Burma Army
and war broke out between the dictators of Burma and
the Karen and other ethnic people
of Burma.

As he grew up, Pu Maw La became
one of the most respected leaders
of the Karen freedom movement.
He gained renown as a brilliant
fighter and protector of his people.
He was also a master hunter and
on two separate occasions killed an
attacking tiger and bear with only a spear and knife. He
was one of the first to help us as we formed FBR and his
sons were some of our most outstanding leaders. One of
his sons, Digay Htoo, died on a mission.

Now we have lost Pu Maw La and this is a great loss for
the Karen people and all of us. He helped his people
survive years of attacks and his own village was burned
three times by the Burma Army, but he never left. He
said, “I would rather die here in the land God gave
me, than live as a slave somewhere else.” Pu Maw La
helped rebuild his village, school and church each
time they were attacked and never gave up hope. He
prayed for all people and led us all at each New Years’
worship ceremony to pray for the Burma Army and
all our enemies. He never stopped loving – us at FBR,
his people, his land – even when there were many
reasons to give up, he never did. He was an example
of perseverance and strength, of hospitality and care,
and of irrepressible joy and love of life. We thank God
for him and all that he has shown us
of our Father and how to live in the
world, through both good and bad
times. We pray for his family and his
people, and look forward to seeing
him in heaven where all that joy of
life can fow and fy unweighted by
the gravity of earth.

Pu Maw La inspired us to obey God at
all costs, to love all who come our way and to live boldly
and with care for others. Once, when a journalist asked
Pu Maw La if FBR was good or not, he answered, “If FBR
follows God it is good, if it does not follow God it is not

Maw La helped us follow God and we thank God for him.