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Murderer Ne Win and Than Shwe

Murderer Ne Win and Than Shwe

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Published by: Downtamun ေဒါင္းတမာန္ on Jun 13, 2009
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 Ne WinThan Shwemoreorless : heroes & killers of the 20th centurykiller fileFirst published 29 October 2001. Reviewed and updated 2 June 2009
Ne Win
AKA 'Big Father', AKA 'The Old Man', AKA 'Number One'. Ne Win means 'Brilliantas the Sun' or 'Sun of Glory'.
Burma (now Myanmar).
Kill tally:
No reliable figures, but 3,000-10,000 killed in the 'Rangoon Spring' uprisingof 1988. Tens to possibly hundreds of thousands killed since the 1962 military coupd'état.
The influence of Europe begins to be felt in the Irrawaddy delta in the16th Century. British intrusion mounts at the start of the 19th Century, culminating in1886 when Britain takes full control of the country, naming it Burma.The British are temporarily forced out by the Japanese during the Second World War and leave for good on 4 January 1948 when Burma is declared independent. Thedestabilisation of the country begins almost immediately, as the many tribal minoritiesrevolt. More background.
Mini biography:
Born Shu Maung (Apple of One's Eye) on 24 May 1911 atPaungdale, in central Burma, to middle-class parents. His father is a minor publicservant.He studies at University College, Rangoon (now Yangon), from 1929 to 1931, when he leaves after failing a biology exam.Win will marry seven times. His second wife, Khin May Than, bears him three children: Sandar Win, KyemonWin and Phyoe Wai Win.
- In the mid-1930s New Win becomes involved in the struggle by Burmese nationalists for independence from the British, joining the Dobama Asiayone (Our Burma Association), where meetsnationalist leader Aung San.
- Ne Win is one of the 'Thirty Comrades', a group of nationalists who secretly travel to Tokyo to receivemilitary training from the Japanese.When the Burma Independence Army (BIA) is formed on 26 December he changes his name to Ne Win(Brilliant as the Sun, or Sun of Glory). When the British retreat ahead of the imperial Japanese forces Ne Winleads the BIA into Rangoon.
- The Japanese occupation of Burma during the Second World War is initially supported by theBurmese nationalists, including Aung San, who is made minister of war, and Ne Win, who is given the rank of general and, in 1943, made chief-of-staff of the pro-Japanese Burmese National Army (BMA).
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- In March, with the defeat of the Japanese imminent, Aung San forms the Anti-Fascist People'sFreedom League (AFPFL) and switches the BMA's allegiance to the Allies. British authority over Burma isrestored in August, though the push by the nationalists for independence continues. Ne Win remains in thearmy, taking command of the 4th Burmese Rifles.
- The AFPFL, led by Aung San, wins an overwhelming majority of Constitutional Assembly seats inelections held in April. However, Aung San is assassinated in Rangoon on 19 July, along with eight other members of the new Cabinet.
- Following the declaration of independence on 4 January Burma is plagued by a series of tribal revoltsand incursions by communist insurgents. Both the Karen and Shan tribes agitate for independence.The Karen, Burma's largest ethnic minority, are concentrated in the Irrawaddy delta and near the border withThailand. The Shan are based in the Shan plateau, bound by the borders with China and Thailand.
- On 1 February Ne Win is made commander-in-chief of the Tatmadaw (armed forces). On 1 April he becomes deputy prime minister, home minister and minister for defence in the new government. He exploitsthe ethnic conflicts to strengthen his position and extend the influence of the army, which is purged of Karensoldiers and officers.
- Under Ne Win's command, the army is able to contain both the Karen revolt and the insurgency bythe Chinese-backed Burmese Communist Party.The AFPFL wins elections in 1951-52 and 1956 but internal tensions develop and the party splits in 1958,with the army supporting Ne Win's Burmese Socialist Party faction. Despite the political instability, theeconomy prospers, with growth averaging more than 6% during the 1950s.
- With the AFPFL unable to govern and civil unrest increasing, the prime minister is forced on 26September to ask Ne Win to form a temporary military government. Ne Win rules in caretaker mode for 18months. During this time he attempts to modernise the bureaucracy and control separatist elements in theShan states.
- Democracy is restored with the running of a general election. However, the new government's promotion of Buddhism as the state religion and accommodation of tribal separatist movements alarms themilitary.
- On 1 March, following rebellions by the Shan and Kachin tribes, the military acts. Ne Win returns to power in a bloodless coup d'état. His Marxist military regime will attempt to create a one-party socialist state but instead ruin the country's economy.The prime minister, politicians and representatives of the ethnic minorities are arrested. The constitution issuspended and parliament is dissolved. The civil rights of Chinese and Indian minorities are curtailed.A 'Revolutionary Council' is established to oversee government. Opposition political parties and independentnewspapers are abolished. The Burma Socialist Program Party (BSPP) is formed. Ne Win is given full executive, legislative and judicial powers, ruling by decree. The country is isolated fromthe outside world as the new government pursues its 'Burmese Way to Socialism'.All private enterprises are nationalised as the regime introduces a state-controlled, centralised economicsystem. Foreign businesses are forced to leave the country.The program results in economic breakdown, the emergence of a black-market, a rise in corruption and the
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impoverishment of a rich and fertile agrarian state that was once the largest exporter of rice in the world.Demonstrations and protests against the regime are brutally put down, though the military is unable tocompletely curtail the tribal separatists and communist insurgents.
- Ne Wins visits China, where he not only manages to convince his hosts to stop supporting insurgentsfrom the Communist Party of Burma but also restores relations between the two countries after they had beendamaged by anti-Chinese riots in Burma that had been partly inspired by Ne Win himself.
- On 20 April Ne Win and 20 of his army colleagues resign their military posts and form a civiliangovernment.
- On 3 January a new constitution transfers power from the Revolutionary Council to a single-party'People's Assembly' composed of Ne Win and the other former military leaders within the BSPP. Thecountry's name is changed from Burma to the Socialist Republic of the Union of Burma. Ne Win becomes president and prime minister. On 11 December, after food shortages have provoked riots, the regime declaresmartial law.
- Following an unsuccessful coup attempt, Ne Win dismisses the army's increasingly popular commander-in-chief and has him imprisoned for his alleged involvement in the plot.
- Ne Win visits Phom Penh, the capital of Cambodia, on 26 November, becoming the first foreign headof state to visit the country since its takeover by the Khmer Rouge in April 1975.
- Towards the end of the year, Ne Win unexpectedly relinquishes the presidency to San Yu, a retiredgeneral, but continues to wield power as the chairman of the BSPP.
- Ne Win orders another purge of the armed forces, with all senior intelligence officers being dismissed.The new chief of military intelligence, Khin Nyunt, is hand-picked by Ne Win.Over the following years Ne Win will continue to oversee the promotion of key military officers. In 1985 SawMaung is made commander-in-chief of the armed forces and Than Shwe is promoted to deputy commander-in-chief and deputy defence minister.
- The United Nations (UN) designates Burma a 'Least Developed Nation', officially recognising the once prosperous country as one of the 10 poorest nations in the world. On 10 August Ne Win admits in a televised broadcast that mistakes have been made during his 25-year dictatorship and suggests that the constitutionmay be changed "in order to keep abreast with the times."
- In March Aung San Suu Kyi, Aung San's daughter, returns to Burma from an extended period overseasto nurse her dying mother.Meanwhile, student-led protests against the military regime break out in Rangoon in March and June. The protests are triggered by Ne Win's decision to reissue bank notes in denominations divisible by the number nine. Ne Win, who is obsessed with mysticism and numerology, considers nine to be a particularly auspiciousnumber. His decision wipes out the value of most people's savings without warning or compensation.The regime responds to the protests with force but looses its grip on power when Ne Win steps down as BSPPchairman on 23 July.Ominously, in his last public address before leaving office, Ne Win warns, "If in the future there are mob
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