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A bust of assassinated Karen leader Padoh Mahn Sha will be unveiled next week in his native town, Pantanaw, in the Irrawaddy Delta.
Mahn Sha was general secretary of the Karen National Union (KNU) armed group when he was shot dead by two unidentified gunmen at his home in the Thai border town of Mae Sot on 14 February 2008.
Nan Khin Thet Phyu, who is Mahn Sha’s niece, said his relatives and residents of his home village, Tawkyaung, have built a monument adorned with a sculpture depicting the Karen leader, and planned to hold a ceremony to unveil it during a memorial next week to mark nine years since his death.
“In the past, such a memorial event would not be allowed. But with a new government in place, those who wished to pay tribute suggested building a memorial. We discussed and confirmed it with the people of the village,” said Nan Khin That Phyu.
After Mahn Shah’s passing in 2008, his children and surviving family members set up the Padoh Mahn Sha Foundation, which every year hands out awards to inspiring and dedicated Karen youths around the world.
The winner of the 2016 Padoh Mahn Sha Award, to be presented at the ceremony next Tuesday, is Saw Khant Thu Hlaing Win, an ethnic Poe Karen migrant from Irrawaddy Division, who has been working in South Korea and is to be recognised for his efforts in promoting Poe Karen literature and culture.
“He went to South Korea to work in the agriculture sector and has since been active in bringing together other Karen youths there to promote Poe Karen literature and culture,” said Nan Khin Thet Phyu. “He also set up a fund to provide assistance to young Karens facing financial difficulties, such as offering no-interest loans to many going to study abroad.”