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Karen Leader’s Mysterious Disappearance



Mahn Nyein Maung at a KNU ceremony in a file photo. Photo: Mizzima


KNU leader Mahn Nyein Maung’s one-month disappearance is still under investigation by the Karen National Union (KNU), officials said, and the cause of his absence since late July is was still unknown.

KNU officials said Mahn Nyein Maung’s visas for both Thailand and China had expired and after he was denied entry to both countries, he vanished from the Kunming Airport.

“Thailand deported him back to China because his visa for Thailand had expired,” said KNU Major Saw La Ngwe. “He was denied entry at Kunming Airport to China too. He then disappeared from Kunming Airport without a trace. The airline company said they didn’t know anything.

“We don’t have any reliable information about his disappearance, and we don’t know where he is. We’re still investigating,” said Saw La Ngwe.

Meanwhile, word has spread that Mahn Nyein Maung may have been deported to Burma by Chinese authorities. However, the KNU said that information couldn’t be confirmed.

Mahn Nyein Maung had taken leave from the KNU on a personal matter more than eight months ago, and he had lost connections with the KNU. The trip to China was a private trip and had nothing to do with the KNU, officials said.

While some rumours said Mahn Nyein Maung had been arrested by the Burmese government, others said he was still in China, said Saw La Ngwe.

“The situation is still unclear,” he said. “We think he may be in China but if we report about that, he may encounter problems. On the other hand, if the Burmese government has arrested him and we do not report that, he could be severely tortured and leave no trace. We need to be balanced between the two possibilities.”

Mahn Nyein Maung was arrested by former dictator Ne Win’s government in 1967 as a Karen youth leader and was sent to a prison camp on Koko Island. He and two prison mates tried to flee by boat, but were captured. Later, under the pen name “Yebaw Shaung,” he wrote about his adventures in the book “Against the storm, Across the Sea.”

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