Born in 1920 in Mon state capital Moulmein, Gen Tamla Baw joined the Karen uprising in 1949 after Myanmar’s independence and joined the Karen National Union (KNU) where he fought in its armed wing, the Karen National Liberation Army, ultimately being promoted to commander-in-chief, Democratic Voice of Burma reported.
He fought for Karen autonomy for over six decades until announcing his retirement in 2012 by which time he had risen to position of KNU chairman.
He died on Thursday.
Mahn Mahn, a secretary of the KNU, said the death of Gen Tamla Baw, an icon of the Karen independence struggle, was an irreplaceable loss.
"Even after he retired as our chairman, he continued to keep up to date and gave advice on the political process,” he said. “He was an outstanding leader and his passing is an irreplaceable loss for us."
Thaw The Bwe, another KNU secretary, said Gen Tamla Baw was an inspiration to all young Karens.
"He was a great source of inspiration for each new generation in the Karen independence movement – he was a good soldier and a natural leader," said Thawe The Bwe.
"He offered valuable guidance and revolutionary ideas."
Gen Tamla Baw is survived by eight children, and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He wife Naw Phaw Kawaw died in February.