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Date: Wed, 15 Feb 1995 07:39:45 -0800 (PST)
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Subject: BurmaNet News: February 15, 1995
To: Recipients of conference <reg.burma@conf.igc.apc.org>
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Date: Wed, 15 Feb 1995 07:39:41 -0800

KNU leader seized in Thailand by defectors

The BurmaNet News, Issue 108
13 February 1995

A key Karen guerrilla leader was kidnapped on Thursday night by a group of eight armed Karen Buddhist defectors who illegally crossed the Moei River into a refugee camp in Thailand's Tha song Yang district of Tak.

Leaders of the Karen National Union (KNU) in separate interviews yesterday said they did not yet know the whereabouts of Padoh Mahn Yin Sein, but believe he must have taken to Myaingnyingu Temple in Burma where the KNU Buddhist defectors have set up a headquarters.

Thai authorities in Bangkok and Mae Sot said yesterday they were unable to take any action to prevent the kidnapping as they not promptly alerted of the incident which accrued late in night. A senior officer of Tak Force 34 in Mae sot said that his office will soon send a verbal message to Burmese authorities in Myawaddy to protest territorial transgression and the kidnapping of Mahn Yin Sein, a KNU administrative governor of Pa-an District, from the refugee camp at Baan Bae Kraw, about 60 km north of Mae Sot.

KNU leader said they believe the defectors, who formed a rival group called the Democratic Kayin Buddhist Organisation (DKBO) in late December, would try to coerce Mahn Yin Sein, the top Buddhist in the KNU, to talk the leadership of the new group. They said the 55-year-old hostage "is a very nice and gentle men who commands wide respect from both KNU Buddhist members and local villagers" and that the DKBO "will probably force him to become their leader."

In December and January the defectors kidnapped three other senior KNU Buddhist leaders including Mahn Yin Sein's deputy Ya Yu who is the first vice governor of Pa-an and Ban Yuang, a financial officer of the KNU's 7th Brigade, and forces them to enter the monkhood. The three leaders had gone to Myaingnyingu Temple in an attempt to resolve religious conflicts between KNU Buddhist and Christian members but were taken hostage and have not yet been released, according to a KNU officer. The DKBO, currently led by U Thuzana, a Karen Buddhist monk who follows a strict discipline and a vegetarian diet, has tried to recruit KNU Buddhist members, forces and villagers, accusing the Christian-led KNU leadership of discrimination against the promotion of Buddhist members and the practice of Buddhist religious activities.

The junta, known as the Slorc, has been supporting the DKBO'a military wing, the Democratic Kayin Buddhist Army (DKBA), and used them in the military offensive to capture the KNU headquarters of Manerplaw.

A Karen witness of Thursday's kidnapping told The Nation yesterday that a total of four person including Mahn Yin Sein were kidnapped from the Pa-an governor's house in Baan Bae Kraw by a group of eight DKBA forces armed with AK-47 rifles, an M-79 rocket launches and hand grenades. The kidnappers also captured two Karen villagers familiar with the locality to guide them to the governor's residence.

The other hostages captured at the residence are Sim Bo, the governor's nephew, Sai Jed, a KNU judge, and Maung Aye, second vice governor of Pa-an and son-in-law of Mahn Yin Sein.

Maung Aye was forced to drive the governor's Mazda pick-up, but managed to escape his captors with only minor injuries after driving the vehicle into a tree on the Mae Sot-Tha Song yang highway. However, his father-in-law and the two other hostages were later taken across the Moei River into the

Burmese army camp at Moe Pa Zu, opposite Tak's Mae Ramat district and about 15 km south of Baan Bae Kraw. A witness said the incident took place about 10 pm on Thursday when the governor's family was watching TV and Mahn Yin Sein himself was listening to the radio.

The kidnappers, according to the witness, told the governor that the DKBO leader and the monk U Thuzana "had told them to come and bring Mahn Yin Sein" back to Myaingnyingu Temple. "He (the governor) knew two of the DKBA kidnappers very well as they uesd to work for him," said the witness. The two kidnappers were identified as Maung Soe and Maung Tu. The witness said he believes the Burmese junta and the DKBA will not harm the governor and will try use him to campaign for support of the DKBO, especially in Pa-an district where the majority of the Karen population is Buddhist.

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