Myanmar - History



The founding of a kingdom at Pagan in 1044 by Anawrahta marks the beginning of the history of Myanmar (Burma) as a distinct political entity. The kingdom survived until 1287, when it was destroyed by the armies of Kublai Khan, and the next five centuries were marked by disunity. In 1754, Alaungpaya defeated the Shan kingdom in northern Myanmar and the Mon kingdom in southern Myanmar and founded the last ruling dynasty, which was in power until the British came in the early 19th century. The British conquest of the land then known as Burma spanned 62 years: the first Anglo-Burmese War took place during 1824–26, when the British East India Company, acting for the crown, took possession of the Arakan and Tenasserim coastal regions. In 1852, at the end of the second war, the British acquired the remainder of lower Burma; and on 1 January 1886, following Burma's defeat in the third war, total annexation of Burma was proclaimed. Incorporated into the British Indian Empire, Burma was administered as a province of India until 1937, when it became a separate colony. At this time, Burma was permitted some steps toward self-government; however, the British governor retained authority over foreign affairs, defense, currency, and the administration of frontier peoples. From 1886 to 1948, many Burmese agitated and fought continually for independence. The nationalists who finally gained independence for Burma were a group of socialist-minded intellectuals, called the Thakins, from the University of Rangoon. They included Aung San, one of the founders of modern Burma; U Nu, independent Burma's first premier; Shu Maung, also known as Ne Win, later U Nu's chief of staff; and Than Tun, a leader of a Communist revolt (1948–50) against the independent government. At the start of World War II, these anti-British nationalists collaborated with the Japanese, and with the aid of the Burma Independence Army, led by Aung San, the capital, Rangoon (now Yangon) fell to Japan on 8 March 1943. They were soon disappointed with the Japanese occupation, however, and the Burma Independence Army was converted into an anti-Japanese guerrilla force called the Anti-Fascist People's Freedom League, which later assisted the British liberation of Burma. Many of the ethnic nationalities of the frontier regions, such as the Karens and Kachins, had remained loyal to the British, as valued fighters for the Allies. After the war, Aung San negotiated with frontier ethnic leaders, signing the Panglong Agreement on 12 February 1947 with them, as a pledge of autonomy and other rights.

Having assumed leadership of the nationalist movement following the 19 July 1947 assassination of Aung San and six of his associates, U Nu signed an agreement with British Prime Minister Clement Attlee covering economic and defense relationships between the two countries. On 4 January 1948, the sovereign Union of Burma came into being outside the Commonwealth of Nations. After severe setbacks in 1948–49, the U Nu government was able to control a Communist insurgency and consolidate its own power, and in 1951 the nation held its first parliamentary elections. The decade of the 1950s also brought the implementation of an ambitious land reform program and an attempt to forge a neutralist foreign policy, in the face of sporadic Communist resistance and an intermittent border dispute with China. U Nu appointed Gen. Ne Win to head an interim "caretaker government" during a period of instability from 1958 to the 1960 national election (which U Nu's party won.) Ne Win returned to power with a coup d'etat on 2 March 1962. The U Nu government was overthrown, and a military regime headed by a Revolutionary Council and led by Ne Win assumed control. Student protests following the 1962 coup, and again in 1974, were crushed by the army with many civilian casualties. Most major political figures in the democratic governments of the years 1948–62 were arrested but were released in 1966–68, including U Nu. Ne Win rejected a return to a multiparty parliamentary system and proclaimed the Socialist Republic of Burma on 3 January 1974. Under a new constitution, Ne Win became president, and the government continued to be dominated by the military. Ne Win retired as president in November 1981, with Gen. San Yu succeeding him in office; but Ne Win retained his dominance, as chairman of the country's only legal political organization, the Burma Socialist Program Party (BSPP). Insurgency by the underground Communist Party of Burma (CPB) and numerous ethnic armies had begun just after World War II and continued throughout Ne Win's time in power. The general sought to unify the country by giving it a Burmese-ethnic majority identity, and to defeat insurgency with the "four cuts policy" of taking civilian support away from the rebels. Instead, the tactics of his armed forces in ethnic regions drove more and more inhabitants into rebellion.

Despite President San Yu's reelection in 1985 to a four-year term and his appointment as vice-chairman of the BSPP, Ne Win continued to dominate the political scene and to make all major and many minor government policy decisions. One such decision, to withdraw large currency notes from circulation in September 1987, threw the economy and the country into turmoil. The move, possibly aimed against black marketeers who had accumulated large sums of money, made 80% of the country's currency valueless, touching off student-led demonstrations. Citing his personal responsibility for dire economic conditions, Ne Win resigned as BSPP party chairman in July 1988. A protégé of Ne Win, Sein Lwin, was made BSPP chairman and president of the country. Sein Lwin's appointment triggered nationwide revolts. A broad spectrum of the population joined in, marching in the streets and going on general strikes throughout Burma. The army opened fire on unarmed protesters, killing thousands, particularly during the first week of August. Sein Lwin resigned on 12 August and Dr. Maung Maung, a civilian lawyer and journalist, was appointed his successor on 19 August. Although Maung Maung proposed multiparty elections and decreed that government employees could not be members of any political party, his refusal to step down provoked further protests. On 18 September 1988 the army abolished the BSPP, took over the government and imposed military rule under the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) headed by the army Chief of Staff, General Saw Maung. He also named himself prime minister and retained the portfolios of the Defense Ministry and Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Several days of violence occurred countrywide with thousands of civilians, including children, students, and monks, killed by the armed forces. In announcing the takeover, General Saw Maung stated that the military rule would be temporary and that multiparty elections would be held once law and order were reestablished. In February 1989 Japan was the first nation to officially recognize SLORC as the legitimate government. Elections were set for 27 May 1990. On 18 June 1989 the Saw Maung regime renamed Burma "Myanmar Naing Ngan," a formal historical Burmese name for the country. It is colloquially known as "Myanmar," while democracy advocates and the US government continue to use the name "Burma."

With the elections called, political parties formed. First to organize was U Nu's League for Democracy and Peace, later known as the League for Democracy. The BSPP was reformed as the pre-regime National Union Party (NUP). U Nu had declared an interim government on 9 September 1988, but he garnered little support with his surprise move. In 1988 Aung San Suu Kyi, daughter of assassinated legendary hero General Aung San, had returned to Myanmar to visit her ailing mother. In the midst of the chaos of this period of demonstrations and protests Aung San Suu Kyi rose to prominence delivering speeches and establishing a coalition party opposing the military regime. On 24 September 1988 Suu Kyi with U Tin Oo and Aung Gyi formed the National League for Democracy (NLD). In early 1989 Aung Gyi formed his own organization, the Union Nationals Democracy Party (UNDP). In speeches and interviews Suu Kyi challenged Ne Win's record, characterizing it as one of economic and sociopolitical degeneration. She also protested SLORC's repressive laws and actions. Aung San Suu Kyi was placed under house arrest in Yangon (Rangoon) by Ne Win on 20 July 1989.

The top contenders in the elections were the NUP, the NLD, the UNDP, and the League for Democracy. The NUP was the party favored by the SLORC; and other parties had immense difficulty in campaigning and obtaining publicity. Six other parties figured prominently: the Coalition League for Democratic Multi-Party Unity; the Democracy Party; the Union of Burma Main AFPFL Party led by the children of former Premier U Ba Swe; the Democratic National Front for National Reconstruction, a former leftist NUF group; the Graduates and Old Students Democratic Association; and the Original Anti-Fascist People's Freedom League. A total of 93 parties fielded 2,209 candidates who, along with 87 independent candidates, contested 485 seats out of a total of 492 constituencies designated for holding elections. Seven constituencies that were excluded from the election represented mostly the ethnic minority states of insurgency. Over 100 candidates were fielded by each of five parties: The National League for Democracy (NLD), 447 candidates; the National Unity Party (NUP) backed by SLORC, 413 candidates; the League for Democracy and Peace (LDP), 309 candidates (another source indicates 325 candidates); the Union Nationals Democracy Party (UNDP), 247 candidates (another source indicates 270 candidates), and the Democracy Party, 105 candidates. Despite its leader's (Aung San Suu Kyi) incommunicado house arrest, the NLD won the 27 May 1990 general elections by a landslide (392 candidates elected out of its field of 447, or 87.7% of the votes). The NUP took 2.4% of the votes for 10 seats out of 413 fielded. The UNDP, with 0.4% of the vote, took 1 seat in Shan State out of the 247 (270) fielded. The Democracy Party with 0.95% of the vote took 1 seat out of 105 fielded. Of the candidates fielded by the LDP none won a seat. On 18 June 1989 Saw Maung indicated that the transfer of power to the winner of the election would not occur until a new constitution was drafted, one which met with SLORC's approval. However, on 13 July the powerful junta member Lt.-General Khin Nyunt denied the initial promise of an immediate transfer of power made by General Saw Maung. SLORC's further response was to alter the purpose of the newly elected assembly from its original function as a legislative body, to that of a constituent assembly formed to draft the new constitution. SLORC would not transfer power until the resulting draft constitution had been approved both by a referendum and by SLORC.

1990–Present

In September 1990 SLORC revealed its intention to remain in power for a further five to ten years. After his mental collapse in December 1991, Senior General Saw Maung resigned due to ill health on 23 April 1992. On the same day he was replaced as Chairman of SLORC by General Than Shwe who was also named (and remains) Chief of State and Head of the Government. The First Secretary was Lt.-General Khin Nyunt and Second Secretary was Lt.-General Tin Oo. Accompanying these leadership changes SLORC initially indicated that an effort was being made to appease criticism of its methods as hundreds of political prisoners were released. Aung San Suu Kyi's family was allowed to visit her. Two martial law decrees imposed in July 1989 also were lifted in September 1992, and a constitutional convention was promised. In early 1993 a National Convention of 700 mostly hand-picked members met to draft a new constitution. Meeting with resistance and presented with a proposal by Yo E La of the Lahu National Development Party suggesting a return to the basic principles of Myanmar's pre-1962 constitution, a bicameral parliament and the granting of basic freedoms, the convention was adjourned until 7 June 1993. Another impasse occurred with further resistance to certain clauses in the new constitution that the ruling military wanted implemented; the National Convention was adjourned until January 1994. On 18 January 1994 the convention met again to approve six objectives and 104 basic principles which would entrench and perpetuate the power of the military.

The plight of Aung San Suu Kyi garnered the attention of human rights groups internationally. In March 1991, the Geneva UN Human Rights Commission passed a resolution to condemn and monitor the human rights abuses of SLORC, and in subsequent years Special Rapporteurs have been appointed to investigate Myanmar's human rights situation. In 1991 Aung San Suu Kyi was awarded the 1990 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought by the European Parliament, the 1990 Thorolf Rafto Human Rights Prize by Norway, and on 10 December 1991 Aung San Suu Kyi's son, Alexander, accepted the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize on her behalf. In December 1993 the UN General Assembly unanimously rebuked the military rulers of Myanmar for their refusal to hand over power to the parliament democratically elected in May 1990, and called for the release of political prisoners, including Aung San Suu Kyi, in her fifth year of house arrest. Eight fellow Nobel prize-winners met in Thailand in February 1993 to speak on behalf of Aung San Suu Kyi, but were denied visas to visit Myanmar. US Congressman William Richardson visited with Aung San Suu Kyi, who was still under house arrest in Yangon, on 14–15 February 1994, her first non-family visit in four-and-a-half years. Richardson also met with Lieutenant-General Khin Nyunt of the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC).

Another dissenting voice in Myanmar, that of 74-year-old Aung Gyi, founder of the UNDP, was silenced when on 27 April 1993 he was sentenced to a six-month prison term. He had written a series of letters to Ne Win (much as he had paved the way for the pro-democracy movement in 1987–88 with a similar series of letters), and criticized the military regime in interviews with foreign journalists, but was convicted for failing to pay for eggs ordered as supplies for his tea and pastry shops. A type of human rights violation in Myanmar which drew international attention was forced labor, which the government used on tourist projects such as the reconstruction of the palace in Mandalay. Of Mandalay's 500,000 residents each family had to contribute at least three days of free labor each month. The work lasted from dawn until evening and was so strenuous that it took several days to recover from it. Prison inmates were required to work every day. Many military families could be exempted, as could any family that agreed to pay a monthly fine of about us$6, about a week's wages for some families. Forced labor was also used on a vast scale throughout Myanmar, on many building projects including roads and railroads, as well as for carrying supplies and munitions for the SLORC troops in insurgent areas. According to the testimony of escapees, the labor was accompanied by beatings, rape, execution of the ill or slow, and use of civilians as human shields and human mine-detectors. Muslim refugees who fled Myanmar said that Muslims had to pay two to three times as much as others to retain their rice ration card as a fine to escape labor. The SLORC commonly used euphemisms such as "meritmaking" or "self reliance" in reference to the forced labor. Asia Watch also reported in 1994 that the government turned a "blind eye to traffic in women and girls from Myanmar to Thailand for forced-prostitution." Corrupt officials on both sides of the border were involved. It was estimated that there were about 20,000 women from Myanmar in Thai brothels, where they were at severe risk of HIV/AIDS infection.

A casualty of the China-Myanmar border agreement of 1988 was the Communist Party of Burma (CPB) which collapsed with the withdrawal of Chinese support and the mutiny of its Wa troops in 1989. The CPB split into four different ethnic armies. SLORC's main objective was to neutralize the border rebel minorities and to prevent urban dissidents from getting access to arms and ammunition. SLORC's strategy was to divide and rule. Karen National Union President Bo Mya held that guerilla armies should hold joint talks with the government and not negotiate separately. The junta, however, would only negotiate separate agreements or treaties with individual rebel groups. To achieve its objectives SLORC introduced its Border Areas Development Program into ex-CPB areas. Infrastructure improvements of US $11.1 million in roads, bridges, schools, and hospitals were pledged in the state-run media. Necessities such as diesel, petrol, kerosene and rice were distributed. The Wa were the first to negotiate with the junta. In 1989 they were promised development assistance, were allowed to retain their arms, maintain control of their areas, and to engage in any kind of business. In exchange they promised not to attack government forces and to sever their ties with the other dissident groups and students. Throughout the 1990s the cease-fired Wa complained from time to time that little of the promised aid had been delivered, and that their demand to create a separate state was never discussed. The next deal was made with the 2,000-member Shan State Army (SSA), one of the Shan rebel factions, on 2 September 1989. The SSA was followed in December 1990 by a breakaway faction of the Kachin Independence Army (KIA). On 23 April 1991 the 600-member Palaung State Liberation Army made a truce with SLORC. The 500-member Pa-O National Army rebel group also signed a peace treaty with the military regime. Accusations were leveled that the smaller forces were pushed into signing accords by the unremitting abuse of their ethnic civilians by SLORC troops. The Tatmadaw, the SLORC's armed force, had increased its own troop strength from approximately 190,000 to well over 300,000 since the suppression of 1988's pro-democracy uprising.

The Karenni rebels, angry over SLORC logging encroachments in their territory, reversed their cease-fire, in September 1992. The government launched a major counter attack on the Karenni that spilled over the Thai border. Since 1984 the rebel Karen National Union (KNU) had its camps near the Thai border; and tens of thousands of Karen civilians fled from SLORC attacks and forced labor, to the Thai side. Manerplaw was the KNU headquarters and also the seat of the National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma (NCGUB), set up by fugitive members of National League for Democracy and other pro-democracy Members of Parliament elected in the thwarted 1990 polls.

Far to the north, the Kachins who had been in rebellion since 1961, had been the largest military group in a coalition of anti-SLORC ethnic forces. On 24 February 1994 the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) signed a peace treaty with SLORC. They agreed to a cease-fire in exchange for permission to participate in commerce. Conflict between the SLORC and Shan groups continued. The Mong Tai Army (MTA) of the notorious "opium warlord" Khun Sa fought the Tatmadaw in the mid-1990s, then made a surprise surrender. He was able to spend his "retirement" living in comfort in Yangon (Rangoon). Like another rehabilitated drug lord, Lo Hsing Han, he has engaged in various legitimate business ventures, giving rise to charges of large-scale narcotics money laundering involvement on the part of the junta . Cease-fired Wa officers, from Myanmar's primary opium/heroin production region, are also said to have legitimate business access in Yangon and Mandalay. Some factions of the SSA refused to sign truces with SLORC, and joined in shifting alliances with anti-cease-fire factions of the MTA, continuing to battle the Tatmadaw. In response to Shan and Karenni defiance of the cease-fire policy, the SLORC engaged in enormous forced village relocations in those regions.

Ethnic peoples of western Burma also suffered. The Muslim residents of Arakan, called the Rohingyas, became refugees en masse in the early 1990s. Previously in 1978 the Burmese government had denied them citizenship and launched Operation Naga Min (Dragon King) forcing over 200,000 Rohingyas to seek refuge in Bangladesh. This pattern was repeated in 1991–92. The Rohingyas whose history in the area went as far back as the 9–15th centuries when Moorish, Arab, and Persian traders arrived and married local women and settled in the area, were displaced from their land and homes. As many as 300,000 Rohingyas fled to Bangladesh when they were forced from their land, their belongings were confiscated and women were raped by government troops. Some co-religionists made statements of protest, but ASEAN offered a policy of "constructive engagement" thus resisting pressures by the United States and European Community (EC) to adopt a stand on human rights abuses. According to this regional attitude, taking a stand would amount to interference in the internal affairs of a neighboring country. The countries of the region for the most part entered into "constructive engagement" with SLORC, gaining trade and investment opportunities, thus altering the status of the Myanmar exiles and refugees within their borders.

The international community has continued to debate the most effective approach for dealing with Myanmar. Up to and following Myanmar's acceptance into ASEAN in July 1997, ASEAN countries and Japan have argued that "engaging" Myanmar is more productive than "isolating" it. This approach gained them controversial timber concessions, energy projects, and some tourism plus manufacturing opportunities. It did not inspire liberalization by the junta . The United States and European Union (EU) have imposed limited economic sanctions, but allowed their petroleum corporations to remain in Myanmar as major investors. Proposals by groups of nations to offer Myanmar's generals economic rewards for steps toward liberalization have been rejected by the junta as "bribery." Aung San Suu Kyi's NLD continues to call for strong economic sanctions as the best way to pressure the junta to the negotiation table, and to deprive the Tatmadaw of the weapons it buys with hard currency (mainly from China and Singapore). The NLD has called for a tourism boycott and for withdrawal of foreign corporations until democracy arrives.

SLORC released Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest on 10 July 1995. Her freedom was short-lived, however. After large crowds of people began gathering in front of her house for weekly speeches, she was forbidden to address such gatherings. In November 1995, the NLD withdrew from the National Convention which was to formulate a SLORC-approved constitution, in protest of undemocratic policies; in turn SLORC permanently barred the NLD from participation and eventually the Convention meetings were suspended. Suu Kyi announced in May 1996 the NLD's plan to draft its version of the constitution, one that would oust the junta and implement new economic policies for the country.

SLORC curtailed Suu Kyi's attempts at movement outside of Yangon, which she protested with car sit-ins in 1998. NLD members have been detained by the hundreds, and many publicly renounced their membership. The Union Solidarity Defense Association (USDA) was formed by SLORC as a "mass organization" modeled after Sukarno's Golkar in Indonesia. It staged rallies denouncing the NLD, and Suu Kyi was physically threatened by some of its members. A steady campaign of insults against Suu Kyi was featured in the state-run press. In 1999, Suu Kyi's terminally ill British husband, Michael Aris, was denied a visa to see her one last time. The junta stated that she was free to leave Myanmar, but the implication was that she would not be permitted back. Aris died on 27 March. Student demonstrations took place in 1996, and institutions of higher learning were closed down by SLORC. Most universities and colleges remained shut down the majority of the time since 1988 (although as of 2000 some were reopening). Attempts by student activists to mark the tenth anniversary of the "four eights" (8-8-88) democracy uprising, and another auspicious date, 9-9-99, were quickly surpressed. Long jail sentences have been handed down for even mild forms of public protest, and human rights groups report that torture of student dissidents is routine in Myanmar's prisons. Min Ko Naing, an important leader of the 1988 demonstrations, remains in prison. Leo Nichols, an honorary consul for European nations, died in a Myanmar prison, where he was held for unauthorized possession of a fax machine. As the junta attempts to control information, Internet access is extremely limited and unauthorized possession of a modem can earn a 17 year prison sentence.

Using a Buddhist breakaway Karen faction, the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA), against the Christian-led KNU, the Tatmadaw was able to over-run Manerplaw and destroy most of the Karen rebel bases in 1995. Tatmadaw and DKBA troops entered Thailand in late January 1997 and attacked Karen refugee camps. A highly controversial natural gas pipeline across the region of southern Burma called the Tenasserim apparently inspired SLORC military campaigns against Mon and Karen rebels in that area. The Mon rebels signed a cease-fire agreement, but numerous Tatmadaw battalions were brought in to protect the pipeline project from Karen sabotage. The multinational petroleum companies involved, Total of France and Unocal from the United States, were accused by human rights and environmental groups of complicity in human rights violations, including forced labor and forced relocation, committed by the SLORC's security forces. Victims of such abuses sued Unocal in a groundbreaking US court case. The pipeline began bringing natural gas from Myanmar's Andaman Sea to an electrical generating plant on the Thai side of the border in 1999. Outside economic pressure built up during the 1990s, in the form of consumer boycotts of companies doing business in Myanmar, limited US economic sanctions, and "selective purchasing" laws by cities. Massachusetts' "Burma selective purchasing law" was brought to the Supreme Court in 2000. By that year, foreign investment in Myanmar had decreased markedly, due to sanctions pressures, the Asian economic crisis, and concerns about corruption in the State Peace and Development Council (SLORC was renamed the SPDC in 1997)-controlled economy. In June 1999, the International Labor Organization of the UN essentially expelled Myanmar from its ranks, following a detailed investigation of forced labor under the SPDC. In early 2000, the World Bank issued a report highly critical of Myanmar's economic and political climate. The World Bank and International Monetary Fund have been barred from lending to Myanmar.

The Myanmar government has also come under considerable international criticism for its complicity in the country's massive drug trade. Myanmar is one of the world's largest producers of opium and heroin. Since 1990, the country has also become one of the largest manufacturers of illicit methamphetamine. Thai officials voiced dismay over the flood of "speed" pills into Thailand from Myanmar (particularly the Wa region, where a cease-fire is in effect) and the seeming callousness of the Myanmar government regarding the drug trade. Myanmar is the main source of heroin in China, where addiction grew seven-fold from 1989 to 1997. A 1999 Interpol conference on narcotic suppression, held in Yangon, was boycotted by the United States and other governments as a protest against the junta's apparent profiting from drug trafficking.

With burgeoning drug production in the north of Myanmar has also come a raging HIV/AIDS epidemic. International health organizations estimated the number of Burmese infected in the north alone at 350,000–400,000 in 1996. The HIV/AIDS virus has spread unchecked in Myanmar through the use of contaminated needles by drug addicts, by unsafe medical practices, and by infected Burmese women returning from forced prostitution in Thailand. AIDS education, prevention, and care programs have been a low priority in Myanmar.

Aung San Suu Kyi was again placed under house detention in September 2000; she was released in May 2002, and toured the country, speaking out in support of democratization. She urged the international community in August to keep economic sanctions against the SPDC in place until a democratic dialogue reached a more meaningful stage. During 2001, over 200 NLD activists were released from detention; in November 2002, another 115 political prisoners were released.

During 2001 and 2002, relations between Myanmar and Thailand improved. The two countries held talks in June 2001, attempting to ameliorate disagreements over the drug trade and border tensions. By September, Myanmar pledged to eliminate drug trade in the Golden Triangle by 2005. Thailand committed funds to finance a crop substitution program, and the two countries regarded themselves as good neighbors. However, in May 2002, Myanmar closed its border with Thailand after the Thai army fired shells into Myanmar's territory during a battle between the SPDC and ethnic Shan rebels. The border was reopened in October. In December 2000, Amnesty International reported that torture was increasing in Myanmar despite official military statements that it is illegal. In November 2001, the International Labour Organization (ILO) sent a mission to Myanmar to investigate governmental measures taken to end its program of forced labor. The mission reported some progress, but expressed "profound concern" that the governmental measures had had a limited impact. On 12 February 2003, the UN marked the anniversary of the entry into force of an international treaty banning child soldiers, but warned that the problem of child soldiers is still prevalent. In Myanmar, an estimated 70,000 children are in uniform in the state army. Many are forcibly conscripted by kidnapping or threats of prison at ages as young as 11.

In January 2003, fighting broke out near the Thai border between the Karen National Union (KNU) and SPDC forces, which launched an offensive against the KNU. Over 700 Karen villagers and 400 Thai villagers fled their homes to escape the fighting, and sought refuge in Thailand.

On 5 December 2002, General Ne Win died under house arrest. He had been arrested in March for plotting a coup against the military regime. Ne Win's three grandsons and son-in-law are in jail, sentenced to death for their plot in the supposed coup.



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May 20, 2007 @ 11:11 am
good evening i need information about politicall development in myanmar

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