Zau Seng Honored by the Syrian Democratic Forces and People of Northeastern Syria

7 November 2019

Northeastern Syria

Dave and Joseph carry Zau Seng's coffin with the help of other teammates.
Dave and Joseph carry Zau Seng’s coffin with the help of other teammates.

Dear friends,

Yesterday, Nov. 6, we had the honor of meeting General Mazloum Abdi, the commander of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). It was a great blessing. We shook hands and hugged each other, and as I looked into his eyes I saw kindness, humility, and courage, a quiet courage.

He expressed his sympathy for the loss of Zau Seng, our videographer and medic and said that, to him, it felt like Zau was one of his own. He told us how sorry he was for the loss but also said that he was inspired that someone would come from Burma, a place of conflict, and give their life for his people.

“I believe the death was not in vain. We won’t give up and Zau has shown a great light, was telling the story, was putting the news out on what’s happening when he died. He’s a noble man and we will honor him,” he said.

As we continued talking, I gave him my Bible and prayed with him. I talked about Jesus – that this isn’t about religion but instead it’s about a relationship with a living God. I told him that God was with him and helping him, and as I told him that his eyes began to sparkle and he smiled.

What a wonderful leader! I thought. He is so humble and calm and brave. In spite of all the betrayals and attacks, he has not given up.

I was inspired and I felt very good that everyone here in northeast Syria – the Kurds, the Christians, the Yezidis, the Muslims, the Arabs, and others – are in the best hands. We love Gen. Abdi and we will continue to pray for him as he leads here. We believe that this is not the end of the story, that there will be freedom here and Gen. Abdi will be part of why freedom comes.

We presented him with an FBR star of valor and a picture of Zau with our kids on horses in Syria, which we took on our last mission here.

Some of the FBR team meeting with the SDF General.
Some of the FBR team meeting with the SDF general.

Then today, Nov. 7, the SDF had a special ceremony outside of Derrick, Syria, for Zau Seng and other SDF who were killed in this invasion. It was beautiful.

When we arrived, Zau’s body was in a coffin with the Rojava flag draped over it and his picture on it. We pinned medals onto the coffin as well and then prayed as Kurdish women came and gathered around the coffin. They sang songs of praise for Zau and after that we carried his casket to a waiting van.

The procession to the cemetery included more than 200 vehicles, thousands of people, and women singing around his coffin as we went.

Joseph, our Karen medic who worked hard to save Zau’s life, was in the very back with the coffin and I was in the front along with other members of our team. I heard Joseph begin to cry for the first time and as he did the women began to sing and comfort him saying, “This is our son, this is our son.” It was a wonderful moment and as they sang, I felt this healing and realized how important that time was. The shared love, the singing, the expansion of your heart to include other people into your family – all of that brings healing. That’s what the Kurdish people did for us today. They honored Zau Seng and helped us heal a little more.

Joseph, crying over the loss of Zau, and the Kurdish women as they sang over Zau's coffin.
Joseph, crying over the loss of Zau, and the Kurdish women as they sang over Zau’s coffin.

When we reached the cemetery, his coffin was brought in first, a place of honor, and SDF soldiers were placed next to him. Military and political leaders spoke for him and then we had a chance to share about Zau, about our love for the people, what Zau did and about who he did it for which was God, his family, the people of Burma, the people of Iraq, Kurdistan, and Syria, and for everyone. Zau was willing to give his life for all those people and that’s what he did. And, he gave his life for freedom and for love. His death was not in vain and we believe it will be a turning point in what happens here. It’s another piece, another arrow of love that’s been shot here and that love is eternal and the flame of that arrow will not go out.

After we spoke, there was more singing and I had the chance to pray before we carried the coffin back to the van. Zau Seng’s body will be put in the morgue again and then, when our family and remaining team get here, we will cremate his body. I talked with his wife, Lunu, and the plan is to have a ceremony here and sprinkle some of the ashes here before bringing back the rest of his ashes and giving them to her.

So, we feel that Zau was honored well today and that he is smiling and laughing, saying “Oh wow, oh man!” at all of this. We still miss him very much but are grateful and encouraged by everyone who has helped us honor this great man. We know he’s in heaven and we know he’s loved here on earth; a person couldn’t ask for more than that.

We want to say thank you to God, thank you Lunu and your whole family, thank you Kachin people and Kachin leaders, thank you team and family, thank you rangers, and thank you to all the people here. We are a closer family now until we see him and each other in heaven.

Thank you and God bless you,

Dave Eubank and all of the Free Burma Rangers

Receiving a plaque from Gen. Abdi.
Receiving a plaque from Gen. Abdi.
Zau's photo and medals on pinned to his coffin.
Zau’s photo and medals pinned to his coffin.
Carrying Zau's coffin in the procession.
Carrying Zau’s coffin in the procession.
Honoring Zau at the cemetery
Honoring Zau at the cemetery.
Members of the FBR team at the cemetery ceremony.
Members of the FBR team at the cemetery ceremony.