BURMA - UPDATE

(9 November 2004)

 

 

 

Aung San Suu Kyi (ASSK)

 

         Aung San Suu Kyi, 59 years, is still under house arrest - altogether, she has been under detention for the equivalent of 9 years on 24 October 2004[1].

 

 

State Peace and Development Council (SPDC)

 

         In an 18-page booklet (7 Nov 2004), General Thura Shwe Mann, Joint Chief of Staff and third man in the military hierarchy, detailed Khin Nyunt's role in a major corruption scandal. Confronted by Than Shwe, Khin Nyunt reportedly retaliated by investigating regular army generals, which Shwe Mann said could have led to the disintegration of the military and posed a serious threat to the nation. He was, therefore, permitted to retire.

 

         On 5 Nov 2004, Home Minister Colonel Tin Hlaing was permitted to retire;

         Labour Minister Major 'U' Tin Winn was also permitted to retire. He had been concurrently appointed as Minister attached to the Prime Minister's Office on 17 Sep following the removal of Foreign Minister Win Aung. He was the senior official that led this year's Myanmar delegation to the United Nations General Assembly in New York;

         Maj-General Maung Oo, Commander - Western Military Region became Home Minister.

         Minister for Science and Technology 'U' Thaung was appointed Labour Minister.

 

         The National Intelligence Bureau (established in 1983) which gave wide-ranging powers to Khin Nyunt as head of intelligence, was abolished on 22 Oct 2004. The NIB coordinated intelligence between the Ministries of Defense, Home Affairs, Foreign Affairs, National Planning and Economic Development, and Immigration and Population.

 

         On 22 Oct, new Foreign Minister Major-General 'U' Nyan Win told diplomats in a confidential briefing that Khin Nyunt had to bear his share of responsibility for the corruption within the ranks of Military Intelligence.

 

         On 18 Oct 2004, Prime Minister General Khin Nyunt, 65 years, was permitted to retire for health reasons by order of Senior General Than Shwe, 71 years;

         Lieut-General Soe Win, SPDC Secretary-1, 56 years, was appointed Prime Minister. He is said to have been behind the Depayin massacre in May 2003.

         Lieut-General Thein Sein, SPDC Secretary-2, was appointed Secretary-1;

 

 

         On 17 September 2004, Foreign Minister Win Aung, 61 years, was permitted to retire. Early in his career, he was a military intelligence officer and served as an aide to the newly appointed Intelligence Chief Khin Nyunt in 1984;

         Deputy Foreign Minister Khin Maung Win, was also permitted to retire.

 

         Agriculture Minister Major-General Nyunt Tin, was permitted to retire;

         Transport Minister Major-General Hla Myint Swe, was permitted to retire;

         Major-General 'U' Nyan Win, Vice-Chief of Defense Services Training, with no experience in international relations became Foreign Minister, replacing Win Aung;

         Colonel 'U' Maung Myint was appointed Deputy Foreign Minister;

         Major-General Htay Oo, Cooperatives Minister, was appointed Agriculture Minister;

         Major-General Thein Swe, Prime Minister's Office Minister, became Transport Minister;

         Major-General Pyi Sone, Minister of Commerce, became PM's Office Minister;

         Brig-General Tin Naing Thein, Forestry Dty Minister, became Minister of Commerce;

 

 

The National Convention

 

         According to Lieut-General Thein Sein, SPDC Secretary-1 and Chairman of the National Convention Convening Commission, the Convention recessed in July, will be re-convened in January 2005. He also reiterated the SPDC's commitment to the 7-point Road Map announced by the then Prime Minister Khin Nyunt in August 2003.

 

 

Cease-Fire Armies

 

         Contrary to what was reported in September, the cease-fire armies in October decided to return to the National Convention if it reconvened. This followed intensive lobbying by Khin Nyunt and senior military intelligence officials prior to current developments.

 

 

Karen National Union (KNU) - SPDC Talks

 

           The Karen National Union (KNU) ceasefire negotiating team led by Colonel Htoo Htoo Lay left for Rangoon on 18 Oct 2004, the day that Khin Nyunt was detained. After the Khin Nyunt purge, MI officials held a day of informal talks with the KNU team and recommended that they return home. They arrived back safely on 21 Oct 2004.

 

 

Arakan, Chin, Karenni, and Shan Groups

 

         It is now unlikely that the SPDC will be initiating peace talks with the Arakan, Chin, Karenni, SSA (South), and other smaller ethnic Pa-O, Palaung, Lahu and Wa armies;

 

 

 

 

 

 

EURO-BURMA OFFICE

Square Gutenberg 11- 2, Brussels B-1000, Belgium

Tel: 00 32 2 280-0691, Fax: 00 32 2 280-0310

email: burma@euro-burma.be



[1] ASSK was first placed under house arrest on 20 July 1989 and released on 10 July 1995. She was again detained on 23 September 2000 and released 6 May 2002. She was arrested on the night of 30 May 2003 during the Depayin massacre, and remains to this day restricted to her residence.