Sayadaw U Thuzana, the controversial monk accused of helping the Burma military regime of engineering the devastating split that broke and caused irreparable damage to the Karen National Union in 1994, died in a Bangkok Hospital on Saturday.
Saw Naung Bee, an associate and care giver to the Abbot told Karen News that the monk died on Saturday at 9:12am at Bumrungrad International Hospital in Bangkok Thailand. Saw Naung Bee said Sayadaw U Thuzana’s body was transferred back to Burma later the same day. Sayadaw U Thuzana’s entourage and his body was greeted by factions of the DKBA now reformed and sponsored by the Burma Military as Border Guard Force militia.
His many followers credited Sayadaw U Thuzana of building roads and of recently raising funds to help and provide shelter to 6,000 people displaced by fighting between the Burma Army (along with its ally the BGF) and a breakaway DKBA faction in Maethawaw area, Pa-An District, Karen State.
The split to the KNU, that the Abbot is accused of helping Burma’s military regime to implement, caused as many as 5,000 soldiers leave the KNU to form the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army. The mass desertion of its troops was driven by grievances among Karen Buddhists soldiers of religious discrimination that the KNU leadership failed to address.
In 1995 the Burma Army taking advantage of the disunity and guided by its new allies, the DKBA, attacked and overran the KNU’s headquarters, based at Manerplaw, Karen State. Historians explain the Burma Army sponsored the DKBA until 2010 when it transformed into the BGF. Regional security specialists point out that it is not the first time Burma’s military has used religion to divide citing the recent military attacks on the country’s Rohingya people. As recently as April 2016 Sayadaw U Thuzana ordered his followers to build pagodas in a Christian church compound and on the grounds of a Mosque fueling religious tension already sweeping Rakhine State.
Karen News is led to understand that Sayadaw U Thuzna’s funeral date, ceremony and arrangements are yet to be finalized.