July 24, 2004
Chin Human Rights Organization expresses its deep sorrow at the demise of Dr. Chao Tzang Yawnghwe, the Shan prince of Yawnghwe, this morning in Vancouver, Canada. Son of the first President of an independent Union of Burma Sao Shwe Thaike, Dr. Chao Tzang, also known as Eugene Yawnghwe, was a fine revolutionary, an accomplished academic and a tireless campaigner for human rights and democracy in Burma. Dr. Yawnghwe dedicated his entire life to working for the freedom of his people, the Shans, and of all the people of Burma from tyranny, inhumanity and oppression.
Before General Ne Win took over power, Chao Tzang Yawnghwe tutored English at the Department of English at Rangoon University. Soon after the military coup of 1962, Chao Tzang Yawnghwe went underground to join the Shan resistance in 1963. A prominent member of the Shan revolution, Chao Tzang Yawnghwe was among the Shan delegation that held peace talks called by General Ne Win in December 1963. A year later, Chao Tzang’s mother, Burma’s first lady and Mehadevi of the Yawnghe chaired the Shan State Army, a merger of two Shan revolutionary organizations. Chao Tzang Yawnge later rose to the position of General Secretary of the Shan State Progress Party, a political wing of the Shan State Army.
In 1985, due to health reasons Yawnghwe left the Shan revolution in order to begin a new life in Canada. Chao Tzang later earned his PhD in Political Science at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. A true believer of freedom and human rights, Dr. Chao Tzang rejoined the revolution after the 1988 popular uprising in Burma. Since then, he had held various position of eminence and was co-founder and a member of Presidium of the United Nationalities League for Democracy (Liberated Area) UNLD/LA, Advisor to the National Reconciliation Program NRP, Ethnic Nationalities Solidarity and Cooperation Committee, the National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma and Chair of the Working Committee of the Ethnic Nationalities Council. He was also instrumental in helping to draft the state Constitutions for the ethnic nationalities.
A scholar who committed all his life to the freedom of Burma from tyrannical rule, Dr. Yawnghwe firmly believed in the important role of the world community in helping to realize his dreams: the smooth transition from military rule to a system of federalism and democracy in Burma. He said in his article Burma Analysis 2003, “Success for any process of political change (or transition) in Burma in the direction of democratization to which the SPDC claims to be committed to as well and the sustainability of the outcomes will necessarily depend on the focus of the international community on the problems, conflict, and issues that have confronted the peoples of Burma for many dismal decades.”
The death of Dr. Chao Tzang Yawnghwe is an irreplaceable loss to the continuing fight for equality, self-determination, federalism and democracy in Burma. He was a hero, a revolutionary, an intellectual and a dedicated activist during whose leadership the ethnic nationalities have learned to so much to advance their cause. Dr. Chao Tzang Yawnghwe will always be gone, but he will always be remembered as a leader, a revolutionary, a federalist and democrat who dedicated all his life for the freedom of the people of Burma.
CHRO offers its most profound condolence to the family and friends of Dr. Chao Tzang Yawnghwe.
May his soul rest in peace.
Chin Human Rights Organization
July 24, 2004