12. Freedom of Assembly and Association

12.1 Background

There has been a notable absence of the freedoms of assembly and association during the time of military rule in Burma, especially since the 1988 coup and formation of the SLORC. Under the SPDC these freedoms have been further restricted. The International Labor Organization (ILO) Committee of Experts has criticized the lack of freedom of association in Burma for over 40 years. This was brought to the forefront in 2000, during the time of the ILO’s investigation into the forced labor situation of Burma, when the ILO Conference Committee on the Application of Standards again denounced Burma’s violation of Convention No. 87, which deals with the freedom of association. Labor unions, student unions and private civic associations are banned. No elections are scheduled; none seem likely.

Laws restricting the freedoms of assembly and association (See Appendix #s 3-7)

The most far-reaching law prohibiting free association and assembly is Order 2/88, which SLORC issued on the day it assumed power. This law outlaws strike centers and the gathering of more then 5 people in one place. While this law has not often been enforced, there are many other laws which have. The most frequently used law is the 1907 (1957) Unlawful Association Act which allows for the detention of up to five years of anyone who is a member of or assists in any way an unlawful association. A number of organizations, including political parties, student unions, profession groups, religious associations, as well as armed opposition groups, have been declared unlawful under this Act. This Act falls far short of international human rights standards; its incompatibility with international standards is underlined by the arbitrary, indiscriminate, and heavy-handed manner in which it is applied, usually to suppress peaceful dissent.

Order 1/90 was issued on May 22 1990 to remind people that "action will be taken against all those who fail to report people illegally residing in their homes." Noting that under existing laws any person not normally residing in a house who stays for one night or more must be registered at the local township office, it threatens to charge persons failing to do so under section 124 of the criminal code "for failing to disclose to the authorities concerned either an act or a conspiracy that amounts to high treason." The order states that it was issued after 2 members of the ABSDF were arrested after hiding in Rangoon for some time. SLORC Order 1/91, pronounced on April 30, 1991, prohibits public servants from engaging in party politics.

Since July 1998, the SPDC has used the 1961 Habitual Criminal Offenders Act against NLD MPs in order to restrict the activities of the NLD. This puts repeat offenders on permanent bail, forcing them to sign up with local authorities on daily basis. Many NLD MPs refused to sign, and as a result by mid-July 1998, some 79 MPs had been detained. This 1961 Act was intended to be applied only to restrict habitual offenders of the law. Since section 5/1(g) applies to those habitual lawbreakers and offenders only, the assumptions and accusations of the SPDC concerning the NLD MPs is not applicable. The restraining order issued under this Act that all MPs to remain within certain areas and not to be allowed to travel outside specific areas is a violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Restrictions on political parties

Following the SLORC take over of power in 1988, political parties were allowed to form for the first time in decades. Over 200 such parties were formed, yet as of 1993, following the 1990 elections which were never honored (see below), only 7 remained legal. Notably, among the first parties to be de-registered were those which represented ethnic minorities and those which had collectively called for a federal constitution in their party manifestos. Even of the parties which were formed by the ethnic minority groups that made cease-fire agreements with the SLORC between 1989 and 1993, some were not removed from the list of "unlawful associations."

12.2 Prohibition of Free and Independent Trade Unions

Burma ratified the Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organize Convention, 1948 (No. 87) in 1955 and is bound as an ILO member to apply the principles of freedom of association. However, the Government of Myanmar has been criticized for not bringing its laws into compliance with the Convention No. 87, refusing to recognize independent trade unions, and harassing workers who attempt to organize.

Several Burmese laws relate to freedom of association and union organizing, but each is inconsistent with international standards and ignored in practice. The ruling regime does not recognize any independent labor unions in Burma. Rather, civil servants, who form the majority of the blue and white collar working force, are compelled, through various coercive means, to join the Union Solidarity and Development Organization. (see below) The Burmese government actively suppresses attempts by workers to organize, and workers who try to form or join such unions are liable to be harassed, arrested, and tortured. They are also under constant surveillance by the police and the military intelligence agency.


12.3 Pressure on the National League for Democracy and the CRPP

Brief Background of the NLD and the CRPP

On May 27, 1990 a national election called by the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) was held to constitute a new Parliament (Pyithu Hluttaw). In this election, the National League for Democracy (NLD) won 392 of the 485 seats (about 81% of total seats). Yet despite the fact that MPs had been elected and were ready to convene the Pyithu Hltuttaw, SLORC refused to transfer power as it had pledged before the election. Instead, SLORC ruled in Declaration 1/90 that the duties of the elected representatives were merely to draft a State Constitution and convene a "National Convention," which would lay down the fundamental principles of a new democratic Constitution. Under severe pressure from SLORC, the National League of Democracy participated in the Convention’s work but withdrew in November 1995, severing whatever link there may have been between the convention and the popular will as expressed in the 1990 elections.

Since 1990, the military regime has not only systematically impeded the functioning of the National League for Democracy, in particular, but eliminated from the political process the MPs elected in 1990. They have done this by first invalidating election results, then dismissing the MP elects from Parliament and banning them from future elections, by forcing them to resign and finally by arresting, detaining and sentencing them on the basis of laws. Some of the numerous laws the MP elects have been imprisoned under include the Emergency Provision Act, State Protection Act, Official Secrets Act, Printers and Publishers Registration Act, and the Unlawful Associations Act.

As a result of such measures, out of the 392 NLD MPs-elect, over 160 have been deprived of their status as MPs-elect. Of the 485 elected representatives - 392 of them from the NLD- only 169 are considered by the SPDC as valid members. Thirty-four have died, 97 have resigned and 185 have been ‘disqualified’. The remaining 169 include 110 members of the NLD - of which 69 are being detained at guest houses - and 39 independent candidates and 20 from other parties.

On May 27, 1998 the NLD leadership demanded that the SPDC convene the Parliament elected in 1990 within three months. In view of the impossibility of doing this, a Committee was constituted on September 16, 1998, "to act for and on behalf of the 1990 Multiparty General Elections People’s Parliament". Thus the CRPP (Committee Representing the People’s Parliament) was formed, composed of 10 MP-elects belonging to different political parties and regions. The CRPP was authorized by more then 50% of the elected MPs to act on the behalf of the People’s Parliament until actual parliament is convened, and was initially endorsed by 4 ethnic political parties. Other ethnic political parties later voiced their support, and the CRPP also has gained support from several Burmese groups in exile, and numerous International bodies.

As a result of the NLD demand to convene Parliament and the establishment of the CRPP, the SPDC increased its pressure on the NLD and its party members, and began to crackdown on the Members of Parliament. They called in NLD MPs-elect outside Rangoon demanding that they sign a declaration not to leave their hometowns in the foreseeable future. In fact, restraining orders were issued against all NLD MPs-elect, who were required to stay within the confines of their respective municipalities for a year. Those who refused have either been arrested or are subject to judicial prosecution. Since September 1998, over 150 MPs-elect have been arrested and are still in detention. According to the SPDC, these MPs-elect have merely been "called in temporarily at guest houses for the purpose of exchanging views on the consequences of the actions of the party (the NLD) for the peace and stability of the State". Sixty-three NLD MPs-elect and 321 party members who agreed not to participate in such "illegal activities", were returned to their homes after over 800 MPs and party members were detained in September 1998. In addition to the illegal arrests of the elected members of parliament, NLD organizing committee members at all levels (State, Division, Township, Ward, Village), ordinary members, and members of working groups formed by the central executive committee have also been arrested.

A number of NLD working committees throughout the country have been demolished by the authorities, numerous offices forcibly shut down, and the SPDC has forced hundreds of people, some of whom are not even NLD members, to sign documents of resignations from the party. Some have been forced to resign from their positions and from the party by threats, intimidation and illegal forceful pressure from members of the military intelligence units. Ethnic political parties who had voiced support for the CRPP have also been increasingly oppressed, and many such groups forced to revoke their support. In addition, the SPDC introduced a new strategy in the fall of 1998 of forcing people to attend "no-confidence" rallies, intended to show a public loss of trust in the NLD and its MPs elect. These have become increasingly frequent.

The SPDC campaign to crush the NLD has been repeatedly condemned by the International community. In April 2001 a resolution was written at the 58th session of the UN Commission for Human Rights which expressed its grave concern, "At the systematic policy of the Government of Myanmar of persecuting the democratic opposition, National League for Democracy members and their families, as well as ethnic opposition parties, and at the use by the Government of intimidatory methods such as arbitrary arrest and detention, abuse of the legal system, including harsh long-term prison sentences, which has forced many to refrain from exercising their legitimate political rights;" On April 7 2001, the Inter-Parliamentary Union adopted a resolution which specified that the SPDC actions towards the NLD and the CRPP were, "….considered by the appropriate United Nations human rights bodies to be in breach of international civil and political rights standards." In addition, the IPU again rated Burma as one of the world’s worst countries for Members of Parliament.

This military backlash against the NLD, the CRPP and its members and supporters is further notable by the fact that it indicates that the junta sees the CRPP as a significant threat, and a constant reminder of their own illegitimacy. Also, by suppressing the MP’s elect, and organizing no-confidence motions against them, the SPDC inadvertently lends them their legitimacy as elected Members of Parliament. Previously the junta has refused to acknowledge that the MP’s elected in 1990 were in fact elected MP’s for the people.

2000 Campaign to Destroy the NLD

The year 2000 witnessed the most severe and focused SPDC crackdown on the NLD and CRPP of recent years. The SPDC government called openly for the destruction of the political party, both through State Run media and through orders to the police force and the USDA. At the beginning of March 2000, at a USDA mass conference held in Taung Thar, Mandalay Division, the USDA called for the abolishment of the NLD and the CRPP, and demanded that the members of these organizations be given exile, life, or death sentences. In the Mandalay Division alone similar USDA conferences were held in Pyi Gyi Ta Khun and Thin Pan Kone on April 23, and in Ohn Chaw village in Pa Thein Gyi on April 25.

On April 20 2000, at a secret meeting held by the Ministry of Home Affairs, SPDC Home Minister Col Tin Hlaing issued a directive to the attendees, including all SPDC departments, and the State and Division Police Chiefs, to "annihilate" the NLD within the year 2000. (see below) Throughout the year, the SPDC, often through its sycophant organization, the USDA, and/or through the MIS, the Military Strategies Studying Department and the police force, continued and indeed, stepped up its campaigns against the NLD, using Declaration 5/96 as one of their persuasion methods. (See appendix # ) They continued to pressure NLD members to resign. Some NLD members in charge at the Township level were told they would be given 1,500,000 kyats and a house if they resigned. Others were menaced into resignations.

No confidence and Anti-NLD motions and rallies continued with increased occurrence. In addition, the SPDC state-controlled media issued myriad stories linking Aung San Suu Kyi, the NLD and the CRPP to armed "terrorist" groups and numerous alleged conspiracies, including the 1999 seizure of the Myanmar embassy in Bangkok. The media used these allegations as a backing for the attacks on NLD members as "traitors". Numerous times throughout the year the media reported that the NLD had lost the support of the people, and must be banned.

Arrests of NLD MP’s and members also continued in 2000. On April 24 2000, Aye Tha Aung, the chairman of the Committee for Ethnic Nationalities Affairs of the CRPP was arrested at his home without reason and subsequently sentenced to 21 years in prison. Prior to the 10th anniversary of the NLD election victory on May 27 2000, NLD members were arrested en masse, and several offices were forced to close.

Things came to a head on August 24 2000, when Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and party members attempted to travel to Kungyangon Township to organize the NLD youth wing there, but were forced off the road in the town of Dala on the outskirts of Rangoon. After a nine day standoff, the group was physically forced back to the capital. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and U Tin Oo, the Vice chair-person of the NLD were both handcuffed and taken to their homes and put under virtual house arrest. NLD youth members who were present were beaten by security guards, 9 were injured but were not given any medical treatment. They were taken directly to Insein prison together with U Soe Myint, chairman of the NLD Rangoon Division Organizing Committee, and Dr. Myo Aung. NLD members from Dala Township were also arrested on that day. All phone links to the 10 senior NLD executives were cut and all of them were under house arrest. No one was allowed to go in or out of their homes. The military authorities kept a ring of high security riot police around the NLD headquarters, and the homes of Suu Kyi and U Tin Oo, prohibited civilians or diplomats from entering the area or contacting NLD members, and cut off the phone lines connecting the NLD to the outside. Phone lines to some elected NLD representatives were still functioning but were tapped. The authorities also raided the NLD headquarters office, searching party materials, and detained another 11 senior NLD officers without warrant on September 13 and 14. Locks on all rooms and cabinets inside the NLD headquarters were destroyed, and SPDC forces occupied the premise for days, barring anyone from entering. Furthermore, NLD members from various states and divisions were also prevented from going to Rangoon.  (See more in the chapters on arbitrary arrest and the freedom of movement) The restrictions on the top 2 NLD leaders were removed September 14, following an international outcry, but the military authorities continued to arrest other prominent NLD members, raid offices throughout the country, and restated that Daw Aung San Suu Kyi was banned from travel outside Rangoon. The NLD leaders, upon emerging from their homes and re-opening the headquarters, held a meeting in which they vowed to draft the national constitution. At the meeting, Suu Kyi announced she would take over as CRPP secretary and its representative for ethnic affairs, taking over from Aye Tha Aung (According to a 1996 SPDC law, drafting a charter without the government’s approval could result in a prison sentence of up to 20 years)

The following week, on September 21, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, U Tin Oo, party members and several supporters again attempted to travel outside Rangoon, to investigate reports of NLD oppression in Mandalay. However, the group was told that the tickets were "sold out", and in the early morning hours of September 22, authorities forcibly removed the group from the Rangoon Railway Station. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi was placed again under house arrest, U Tin Oo and the 8 NLD youth members were taken to a "government guesthouse", and nearly 100 supporters of the NLD were arrested and detained.

On September 25, 2000 the NLD received another blow when they received the order of eviction from the landlords of the NLD main headquarters building. (see following section) However, as the responsible persons for the NLD headquarters were all detained by the SPDC, the order was temporarily withdrawn.

With the key members of the NLD under house arrest, the SPDC continued its campaign to destroy the party throughout late 2000. Yet due, in part, to the International pressure created by the ILO accusations of forced labor, the junta began secret talks with the detained NLD members, including Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. These talks began to surface in December 2000, around the same time that pressure was hot on the regime because of its forced labor record. Yet as of May 2001, these talks had still not been made open to the public, and there had been no tangible results.

Police force ordered to crush the NLD

On April 20, 2000, at a meeting, the SPDC Home Ministry issued a directive to the police force to completely crush the NLD within the year 2000. SPDC Home Minister Col Tin Hlaing directed all the regional police chiefs and the commandants of riot control police battalions to employ all administrative techniques to completely crush the NLD within the year. The meeting was also attended by Col Soe Win, director general of Myanmar Police Force.

The minister also ordered the respective police chiefs from the states and divisions to relay the directive to their subordinates and to supervise the strict implementation of the directive.

Since the government has increased the salaries of the state employees, the minister said, they should show loyalty to the government and firmly follow orders. He also ordered them to take action against those who do not fulfill their duties.

The Home Ministry had issued a directive to the police force May 23, 1999 that the SPDC regard the NLD as the enemy and the police should begin eliminating the party. The present directive is to completely crush the NLD. The names of NLD members who have refused to resign are gathered by the police force. Although the directive was to employ all administrative techniques to completely crush the NLD, it was not clearly known what kind of administrative techniques they were going to implement. (Source: DVB)

SPDC Media attacks against the NLD

Prior to the May 27 anniversary of the NLD election victory, Col. Than Tun, a senior military intelligence officer, gave a news conference warning Buddhist clergy and ordinary people against falling prey to incitement by Suu Kyi and other anti-government forces to cause unrest in the country. The conference intended to present what it called evidence of how the NLD was communicating with armed "splinter groups". Recent commentaries in state-run newspapers have suggested that Suu Kyi and her supporters are committing treason for such alleged ties and that the death penalty should be used against them. (Source: AP)

On July 5 2000, State-run newspapers called for the banning of the NLD, saying the party was colluding with terrorists to undermine the country. These newspapers accused the NLD, of "inciting unrest to cause disintegration of the Union."

The commentary, entitled "It is time NLD was dissolved," was carried in two of Myanmar’s official newspapers, the sole English language daily, "The New Light of Myanmar," and the Myanmar language "Myanma Alin."

"An objective study will show that the NLD party is not in a position to carry out political activities in the Union," the commentary said. "Hence, the NLD should be outlawed in the interest of the people."

The newspaper commentary said the NLD was a defunct party with dwindling members and the entire Myanmar people wanted the government to dissolve it. (Source: Reuters)

On September 16, 2000, The New Light of Myanmar newspaper called on the ruling military junta to "wipe out" the NLD, which it accused of colluding with Britain and the US to destroy the nation. "It is time for the government, which has been very patient over the years, to bow to the will of the people who are calling nationwide for the NLD to be completely wiped out…." "….If we continue to take the matter lightly, Daw Suu Kyi, together with her American and British aggressor allies will become more daring to the detriment of the nation." (Source: AFP)

On September 26, 2000, a commentary in the Myanma-alin newspaper accused Suu Kyi of trying to disintegrate the country. "Not realizing the unpopularity among the public, Suu Kyi and her NLD members continue to disrupt stability, infringe the existing laws and create various problems," the government newspaper wrote. " Wandering round the city and disrupting the stability is one of Suu Kyi’s tactics. Knowing that unrest is not democracy, the public do not accept Suu Kyi anymore," it said. (Source: AP)

SPDC response to NLD vow to draft a constitution

On September 21, 2000, in response to the NLD resolution that the CRPP would draft a new constitution, Lieutenant General Tin Oo, second secretary of the SPDC threatened the NLD through the English-language New Light of Myanmar newspaper. "Anyone who tries to draft a new constitution in line with the colonialists is the nation’s common enemy and will be crushed without mercy." Tin Oo’s comment was the first official reaction.
(Source: AP)


12. 4 Harassment of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi

In 2000 the military stepped up its endeavors to destroy the NLD, including its leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. In the first half of the year, her movements continued to be restricted and monitored by the military intelligence, and as usual they attempted to prohibit her from having regular media contact. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, who had been awarded the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize during her 1989-1995 period of house arrest was co-awarded the City of Dublin award on March 18, 2000 along with the Irish rock band, U2. U2’s latest album was then banned in Burma, due to the song on the album, ‘Walk On’, which the band had dedicated to Aung San Suu Kyi.

On December 6 2000, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi was awarded, in absentia, the highest U.S. civilian award, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, for her peaceful struggle for democracy and human rights in Burma.

Media attacks against Daw Aung San Suu Kyi

Throughout the year, SPDC controlled media brought numerous attacks against Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. In a commentary in the (Burmese-language) Mirror daily on May 2, she was accused of being "power crazy" and of having contact with armed terrorist groups, a crime of "high treason", for which she and "her accomplices could face the death penalty or life imprisonment.’’ The Mirror also lashed out at her for smuggling videotapes out of the country, and stated that the people were losing confidence in her, and wanted the government to take concrete action. On September 18, the Myanma Alin called her the "Satan of Destruction."

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi banned from travel outside Rangoon, put again under house arrest

On August 24 Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, along with U Tin Oo, Vice-Chairman of the NLD and 14 other party members, attempted to travel outside Rangoon to meet with party members and were stopped by the authorities in Dala Township, on the outskirts of Rangoon. Aung San Suu Kyi refused to turn back and a 9-day stand-off ensued. While the government stated that they were taking care of her during her "rest" in Dala, there were concerns for her health during the 9-day period. It was her first attempt to leave the capital since 1998, when she had a similar standoff with the government for 13 days.  On September 1 women police handcuffed Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and forcefully took her back to her home in Rangoon. Her phone line was cut, the gate to her residence padlocked and she was denied access to visitors. These restrictions were eased on September 14, and diplomats who visited following her release reported that she was noticeably thinner. Her period of relative freedom was short-lived, as on September 21, following a 2nd attempt to leave Rangoon, she was again captured by the authorities and put under house arrest.

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi had been put under house arrest for the first time in 1989, and was held in her home for 6 year until her release in 1995. During this time, she was guarded inside her Rangoon home, and barred from contact with the outside world. This time, even her place of detainment was at stake.

Lawsuit brought against Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s residence

On November 14, 2000, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s brother, Aung San Oo, a citizen of the United States of America, posted a subpoena on the gate of her house. She was summoned to appear before the Yangon District Court concerning a lawsuit her brother had filed for half-ownership of the house, which had belonged to their late mother, Daw Khin Khin Kyi. However, under Myanmar law, her brother, as a United States citizen, would be forced to hand over his half of the property to the military government if he won the suit. This led critics to speculate that the authorities were attempting to further harass Daw Suu Kyi by leaving her homeless. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi was given permission by the military authorities to leave her residence for the hearing, but she declined to appear. The trial was therefore set to proceed without representation by Suu Kyi. However, her lawyers attempted to gain representation and, in a written statement to the court, questioned the legality of the lawsuit. The law prohibits foreigners from purchasing or transferring property, but the government granted Aung San Oo an exemption. The Judge of the case, U Soe Thein, called for a proper hearing of the argument for January 5. The lawsuit was dismissed on January 22 2001, but was brought to the courts again two months later.

As of May 2001, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi was still being held under house arrest, but had been allowed occasional visitors. The treatment of Aung San Suu Kyi sparked international condemnation and threw into doubt a planned meeting in Laos in December 2000 between the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and foreign ministers of the European Union.

In December 2000 it was revealed to the world that top leaders of the SPDC had been meeting with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. The dialogue between Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and the generals of the SPDC has drawn varied responses. Initially the reception of the talks was welcoming, yet as of the time of this book’s final edit in May 2001, the talks had still not produced any notable progress, and were being criticized for their continuing lack of transparency and the fact that the involvement of the people, especially the lack of involvement from the political parties representing the ethnic minorities.


12.5 NLD Lawsuit against SPDC oppression

The NLD filed a lawsuit in September 1999 against the director-general of the National Intelligence Bureau, Home Minister Colonel Tin Hlaing, Information Minister Major-General Kyi Aung and Ba Htay, the election commission chairman. Listing its complaints in a statement, the NLD said its activities had been, "continuously disrupted, prevented, and destroyed by the authorities concerned." It accused the authorities of illegally detaining its members and organizing mass rallies to denounce elected representatives. The authorities had dismissed the complaints as invalid in October 1999, and in February 2000 the NLD had gone on to appeal the decision. The authorities responded by threatening a ban on lawsuits against them, and on May 4 2000 the Burmese Supreme Court dismissed the appeal by the NLD. On July 4 2000, the NLD notified the authorities of their intent to bring another lawsuit against them. The suit was to be filed against the chairman of Burma’s Election Commission, Ba Htay, and the chief of the ruling military council, Senior Gen. Than Shwe, accusing them of failing to keep "election promises" and violating electoral law. The military government again rejected the NLD lawsuit intent, citing it as, "whimsical and symbolic".

12.6 Forceful Removal of NLD signboards

On January 3, 2000, the Monywa township NLD signboard was ruined at 12:38 midnight by a gang of thugs who threw acid on it and fled on motorcycles. This was witnessed by the owner of the house. (Source: NLD)

In March 2000, local police and authorities forced villagers to pull down the NLD signboard in Sin Inn village of Shwe Bo Township. (Source: DVB)

On April 17, 2000, No (1) Industry Minister U Aung Thaung persuaded Zagyan villagers in TahungTha Township to pull down the NLD signboard. (Source: DVB)

On the night of the May 28, 2000, a group of unknown persons entered the compound of the NLD office situated on Min Road, Min Ward, Sagaing town, in Sagaing Division and destroyed  the NLD, Sagaing Division and Sagaing Township signboards. U Kyi Htay, owner of the said premises is the Deputy chairman of the Township Organising Committee.  At about 5:30 a.m. the next morning he noticed that the signboards were missing and discovered the posts and planks to which the signboards had been attached strewn on the main road in front. The zinc sheets were stolen. It had rained that night and military boot prints were left on the wet soil in the signboard area. 

U Kyi Htay went to the office of the local  PDC and reported the matter.  U Aung Sway (Chairman, NLD township committee) and U Maung Maung (Joint Secretary) went to the police station and lodged a complaint. The Deputy Superintendent of the Security forces and one constable visited the scene of crime, took five photographs, paid for by the NLD, and made a record of the matter, but did nothing further. When the township members were arranging to replace the signboard, the authorities forbade them from doing so and banned all signboard writers from doing the job. (Source: NLD)

SPDC agents have been forcefully dismantling NLD offices and NLD signboards following signed petitions and mass rallies declaring loss of support for the NLD, which has been forced upon the populace by the authorities.,. (Source: DVB)

On May 20, 2000, the Magwe Division, Taungdwingyi township NLD flag and signboard were brought down and seized by several local township officials, including police officials, teachers, and led by the Township Electoral Commission staff. (Source: NLD)


12.7 Illegal Seizure of NLD documents

On March 28, 2000, following a peaceful celebration of resistance day by 6 members of the NLD organizing committee of Magwe Division, Aunglan Township Branch and other ordinary members, local authorities arrived at the NLD township branch office in three cars and claimed that they had to do some interrogation.  They took pictures of the building (inside and outside), seized office papers and conducted interrogations from early afternoon to midnight. The following day (the 29th) the authorities again searched the premise, after forcibly breaking the lock, and everything except two pictures of Bogyoke Aung San was taken away.  Then, later that evening, the authorities arrested the 6 members of the organizing committee, who were subsequently sentenced to 6 months imprisonment. (See chapter on arrest) The NLD office premise was then broken into again after their arrest and everything was removed and taken away including the signboard and  flag. (Source: NLD)

On September 2, 2000, SPDC riot police and MIS raided the NLD party headquarters in Rangoon, citing that they had to investigate NLD alleged links with terrorists and with foreigners. Locks on all rooms and cabinets inside the NLD headquarters were destroyed when security forces searched for documents. The headquarters continued to be occupied and guarded. There were about 10 police at the main gate and no one, including NLD members, was allowed to enter the premise. On September 4 2000, it was reported that over 30 SPDC riot police were still occupying the NLD headquarters and Military Intelligence personnel continued to search for documents and other evidence.(Source: NLD)

12.8 Threatened evacuation from NLD main office

On September 25, 2000, the NLD was asked by landlords to vacate the building housing the NLD party headquarters in Rangoon. The letter required the NLD to remove all party property and its party sign the letter by the eviction date of October 25 2000, or face legal action. The NLD has occupied the property on Shwegondaing Road in central Yangon since 1989, one year after it was founded. The building’s owners, Daw Khin Nu, 70, and Daw Chaw had been arrested after the NLD marked the 10th anniversary of its victory at the polls on May 27 2000. Daw Chaw and Daw Khin Nu were apparently accused of and held responsible for causing public disturbance due o NLD use of loudspeakers. They were released from detention. In their letter telling the NLD to leave, the sisters said neighbors were complaining of the disruption caused by the government frequently closing off the street. The letter said the decision was not due to any outside pressure. However, the order was temporarily withdrawn in late October because party officials were unable to pass the eviction letter on to Aung San Suu Kyi or chairman Aung Shwe, who with other senior members remained under house arrest.

12.9 Arrest of NLD MP’s, members and supporters

The arrest of NLD members and supporters continued throughout the year 2000. A partial list of NLD members arrested in 2000 is included in the chapter on Arbitrary Arrest and Detention.

12.10 Harassment due to NLD association

Action taken against people with NLD calendars

On January 4, 2000, the NLD began distributing calendars for the year 2000 as a record of Burma’s Independence Day. Some had the picture of the General Secretary of the National League for Democracy, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and others had her picture with that of her father, national leader General Aung San. Local authorities under the military dictators harassed and took action against individuals who displayed these calendars in their homes, offices, workplaces and elsewhere. (Source: NLD)

Shops fined for importing magazine articles on Daw Suu Kyi and the NLD

Personnel from No. 7 Military Intelligence [MI] Unit from Rangoon Division inspected the Foreign Goods Inspection Department at Mingaladon International Airport on 4th September and examined some magazines and journals sent from Bangkok, Thailand to five bookstores/publishing houses that have import licenses for foreign magazines and journals. They discovered that two magazines and one journal contained articles, news reports and photos on the stand-off in Dala with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and NLD leaders, and their forced return to Rangoon. The magazines and journal were confiscated by the MI.

The bookstores that ordered the books were Aryonethit bookshop from Pabedan Township, Pyinnya Alinpya and Parami bookstores from Latha Township, Myo Myanmar bookstore from Kyauktada Township, and Nawat Book and Stories bookstore on Merchant Street. The owners of these bookstores were summoned by Maj. Thura Lwin, secretary of South Yangon [Rangoon] District PDC, on September 5 2000. Maj Thura Lwin advised them not to import such magazines and journal in the future and to scrutinize carefully whether the books contain articles relating to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and the NLD party before importing.

The five bookstore owners were fined 30,000 kyat each and they had to sign an undertaking not to import such books in the future. (Source:DVB)

Female SPDC officer jailed for supporting Daw Aung San Suu Kyi

In June 2000 there was a meeting, ‘Child Birth and Child Education’ given by LIB 530 and the Myanmar Maternal and Child Welfare Association. All the women who attended the meeting were the wives of SPDC officers based in Loikhaw, Karenni State. At the close of the meeting, all the women attendees expressed their desire to help eachother, and then their wish for Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and all NLD members to be healthy, achieve their hopes, and to love the truth. At 8 AM the next morning, MI # 27, based in Loikhaw, summoned all the women who arrived in the meeting and asked who had expressed their support for Aung San Suu Kyi and the NLD. Ma Thein Htwe Oo, in an attempt to protect the other women, told the MI that it had been only her who had voiced support for the NLD. The MI asked her why she had wished health on Aung San Suu Kyi and the NLD, and she replied that Aung San Suu Kyi was the Army’s Father’s daughter and works restlessly for the good of Burma. (Aung San, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s father, is often referred to as the Army’s Father) As a result of what she said, the Loikhaw authorities arrested Ma Thein Htwe Oo and sentenced her to 6 months in prison with hard labor. (Source: PD Burma)

NLD member kicked out of his home

Since May 21, 2000, the NLD Rangoon Division, Bahan Township organizing committee chairman and his family have been denied the right to live as tenants in the quarters they had rented from May 1999. Of all the tenants in the ward, only this family of 7 members was denied the legal right to live in their home. This is a clear penalization of a man and his family for his political association. (Source: NLD)

Grand-daughter of NLD member detained

In June 2000, in Thayetmyo township, Kyauk-oh-kya-gan village, the grandaughter of U Hla Maung, an NLD organizing committee member, was captured and detained by the authorities while U Hla Maung was gone on a journey. The tenth standard student was released when U Hla Maung returned home. (Source: NLD)

Wife of NLD MP forced into early retirement

On June 22, 2000, the Deputy Manager of Myanma Pharmaceutical Industries, U Tin Myint, pressured Daw Mya Than, who was holding a proficiency level 3 position, to apply for pension or transfer to another region.  Daw Mya Than is the wife of U Hla Htun, NLD MP for Kye-myin-dine constituency, Yangon Division. In December 1998, following her husband’s release from prison, she had been summoned by U Tin Myint and told that she must present her husband’s NLD resignation papers, or else be at risk for her and her daughters’ jobs at the company. According to his conscience, U Hla Htun refused to resign, and in late December 1998, their daughter Ma Nwe Ne Htun, was dismissed from service, and in January Daw Mya Than was pressured for the first time to apply for pension. However, when the matter was put before the manager, U Zaw Win, she was informed that she could continue to work. This time, in June 2000, when she again approached U Zaw Win and explained that she was the sole breadwinner for the family and could not yet apply for pension, he replied that it was not his business. He further explained that due to her husband’s stubborn refusal to resign from the NLD, he could do nothing. Daw Mya Than therefore had no choice, and against her inclination she applied for "voluntary retirement".(Source: NLD)

NLD members not reissued national identity cards

NLD members who have their identity cards lost or stolen are have not been re-issued new ones. In Burma it is a requirement that all persons carry identity cards, national registration cards, foreigner’s registration cards, guest national registration cards etc.  The identification card or the national registration card is the most important for residents of Burma because it is needed to deal with anyone in authority, with the bank, to travel, to report the household guest list to the authorities, or at death and for funeral arrangements. Should an identity card belonging to an NLD member be lost accidentally or through theft or otherwise and it is reported to the police or the ward, village or township authorities, the request is not processed and no replacement is given. The origins of this policy are not public knowledge. This treatment is given only to NLD members.   (Source: NLD)

MP forced into exile

Due to political stalemate in the country, various restrictions and harassment by the military junta in power, U Mya Win, an elected Member of Parliament from Burma left the country and took shelter in India. In mid-May 2000, after a week-long journey from his home in Rangoon, the 50-year old parliamentarian crossed the Indo-Burma border by foot. U Mya Win was elected from Ingapu Township (No. 1) of Irrawaddy Division for the NLD. He won the election by securing more than 67% of the votes. He was jailed in December 1990 by the Burmese military government in connection with the formation of the exiled government and charged with high treason, and released in January 1999. He is also a NLD party organizer for the Irrawaddy Division. (Source: Mizzima)

Photos taken of NLD members and their homes

In late 2000, the #6 Police Corps in Kawthaung, Tenasserim Division, led by Sergeant Mya Win from the Special Police News Agency, took photos of NLD members and their homes in Kawthaung. (Source: ALD)

(HRDU note: This is only an example, this action is not uncommon)


12.11 Pressure to Resign

The SPDC continued in 2000 to pressure NLD members to resign, using various methods. Daily reports in state controlled media reported these supposed resignations, consistently attributing them to the reason that the members "no longer wished to participate in party politics." In mid 2000 the authorities reported that over 60,000 ordinary party members had resigned, a disputable figure considering that many resignations were forced, and many who were reported to have resigned were not in fact NLD party members.

In early 2000, authorities in Chin State summoned all NLD State and Township Organizing Committee members in Chin State and gave them notice to resign before the end of May 2000. Those who refused to comply were threatened with further restriction on their travel. The NLD members had already been forbidden to travel out of their hometowns and villages and their household census lists and national registration cards had been confiscated since August of 1998.
(Source: NLD) 

In May 2000 in Kalewa township, Sagaing division, administrative authorities, police and the elections commission collectively operated to dissolve the township NLD branch. There were five remaining NLD organizing members in the township, two of whom were Daw Thee Thee and Daw Khin Hnin Kyi. Daw Thee Thee and her husband U Htoon Kyi own two cargo carrying trucks No.KHA-KWE/454 and NA-NGE/9614. On May 1st, 2000, under instructions from U Hla Maung Gyi (Superintendent of Police), U Kyaw Zaw, (Police Station-in-charge) designated those two vehicles as " rules infringed" vehicles.  They were seized and held at the police station. U Htoon Kyi and his son Maung Kyaw Thu were also arrested, confined at the police station and sent to court. The police station officer in charge went to Daw Thee Thee’s house and assured her that if she resigned from the NLD the case against her husband and son would be dropped and the two vehicles would be returned to her.  Consequently, Daw Thee Thee signed her resignation as a member of the NLD and as a member of the Kalewa township organizing committee on the May 9, 2000.

Pressure was also applied to Daw Khin Hnin Kyi to resign as an organizing committee member of the NLD. The promise held out was that her sister, a teacher, would be given a transfer from a remote village to the town.

The Kalemyo Election Commission branch office then issued a letter stating that the Kalemyo NLD branch was dissolved because its membership consisted of less than five people and ordered that the properties, signboard, seal and documents be surrendered at the branch office on May 13, 2000. These actions violate the Political Parties Registration Law and the guidelines (No. 245) issued by the Central Elections Commission. (Source: NLD)

On May 8, 2000, three middle school teachers related to members of Kawlin Township (Sagaing Division) NLD, (one the daughter of U Aung Khin, the second the daughter of U Kyi Yone, and the third the wife of U Ye Myint) were summoned by the Township  Director of Education and instructed to see that their fathers and husband resigned from the NLD.  (Source: NLD)

On June 29, 2000, U Aye Than (USDA chief organizer) summoned NLD members of Hlawga village, Rangoon Division, in writing to the SPDC office and ordered them to resign from the party. (Source: NLD)

On July 1, 2000, U She Aye, Ko Tin Ohn and Ko Min Naing (USDA members) ordered and forced NLD members to resign in Shwe-pyi-tha township, Ward Ta/15, Rangoon Division. (Source: NLD)

As of August 2000, in Ya-sauk township, South Shan State, senior and junior commanders from a variety of military training units and the USDA membership were working together to intimidate and coerce the people to obtain the resignation of legally constituted Pyithu Hluttaw Representative Dr. Hla Shein. A large number of military training centers have been established in Ya-sauk, including Ba Htoo military town. NLD organization committee members have had to resign out of fear intimidation and pressure by the military commander of the region. (Source: CRPP/NLD)

From October 30 to November 3 2000, Police Major Zaw Win, Police-in-charge of Bokpyin Township, Tenasserim Division met with 50 members of the NLD. He explained that the NLD might be abolished and that action will be taken against members who have not resigned according to the Declaration 5/96. He urged them to apply for resignations and celebrate their resignation ceremonies as soon as possible. U Shwe Yee, age 64, one of the members who had been summoned, replied that even if the SPDC succeeded in abolishing the NLD that independent support and belief in the NLD would not be abolished, and that this was not a breach of the law. The police-in-charge said nothing, but all the NLD members were forced to give their fingerprints and have their photos taken before they were allowed to go home.
(Source: ALD)

Partial list from Inside Source of NLD members forced to resign by SPDC

On January 6 2000, 20 NLD members from Ya Mel Tin township, Mandalay Division.

On January 6 2000, 12 NLD members from Ba Thein Gyi, Mandalay Division.

On January 19 2000, 30 NLD members from Khin Oo town, Sagaing Division

On February 1 2000, 27 NLD members from Min Mu town, Sagaing Division

On April 4 2000, 22 NLD members from Pa Lel township, Sagaing township.

On April 6 2000, 15 NLD members from Shwe Bo township, Sagaing Division.

On May 5 2000, 20 NLD members from Taung Twin Gyi township, Mergwe Division.

On May 11 2000, 34 NLD members from Min Bu township, Mergwe Division.

On June 2 2000, 28 NLD members from Duct Gon township, Mandalay Division.

On August 5 2000, 12 NLD members from Gha Bu Daw township, Irrawady Division.

On August 3 2000, 18 NLD members from Nar Rane village, Tan Da Lan township in Chin State.

Between October 6 and 20 2000, 23 NLD members from Lat Ban Than township, Pegu Division.


12.12 No-Confidence and Anti-NLD Motions and Rallies

In 2000 SPDC authorities continued to force people to sign petitions declaring no support for NLD and hold mass rallies to demand dissolution of NLD. The people were enticed with free rice, cooking oil, sugar, and soap to attend these rallies, and in most cases threatened with severe action or fines if they refused. These petitions against the NLD or NLD MP elects, gathered door to door as well as at the rallies were then accepted by township election offices, which by law should have become defunct after the 1990 election results. These offices were then responsible to declare closure of NLD offices after the NLD offices and signboards had been forcefully dismantled by SPDC agents.

Mandatory anti-NLD meetings within the army

In 2000 the SPDC held weekly mandatory anti- NLD meetings within the army. The main objectives of these meetings have been in condemning the NLD along with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. On April 4 2000, LIB 255 based at Salin in Magwe Division held an anti-NLD meeting led by Battalion Commander Lieutenant Colonel Zaw Win. These anti-NLD meetings have been ongoing and dated as far as July of 1999 when LIB 326 at Tangyan in Northern Shan State held one. The meetings are conducted in a similar manner all throughout the country. Articles from SPDC’s two newspapers "The Mirror" and "The New Light of Myanmar" are read and are forced to be supported by the attendants. Anti-NLD and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi sentiment are also promoted through discussions led by Regiment Commanders and high-ranking officials. Such meetings have been taking place not only throughout the army but also with the army families. (Source: AVA)

Anti-NLD motions and signatures

Starting from June 23, 2000, authorities in Syrium township, Rangoon Division gathered signatures for the purpose of proclaiming loss of confidence in Dr. Win Naing, NLD Hluttaw representative for Constituency No 1, Syrium township. Signatures to call for the dissolution of the NLD were also gathered by various methods, including force and forgery, in the following villages: Tha-nat-pin village; Nga-bye-ma village; Pa-ya-gone village tract (Kanyinbin village); Pa-ya-gone village tract (Nat-sin-gone village); Pa-ya-gone village tract (Pa-done-san village); Pa-ya-gone village tract; Pa-ya-gone village tract (The-byu-chaung village); and Pha-gone village, all in Rangoon Division. (Source: NLD)

On July 1, 2000, every house in North Zaing-ga-naing ward (Pegu township, Pegu division) was visited by USDA organizer U Htay Win and members of the ward military authority.  Intimidation, coercion and unlawful display of authority was used to force the householders to sign papers denouncing the NLD and calling for its dissolution.

On July 2 in a shopping area in the center of the town, USDA organizer U Soe Myint, other USDA members and the military authorities illegally forced people to sign papers indicating their loss of confidence in the NLD.  When a woman at one store expressed her confidence in the NLD and refused to sign she was threatened with withdrawal of her shop’s license. Also on July 2, at Myothit (d) ward the authorities prepared a list of everyone over 18 and applied pressure and threats to get their signatures. The next day the same process was conducted by SPDC ward authority chairman U Myint Lwin Soe and his associates in Myothit ward (19).  On July 4 in Myothit Ward 1/6 every house was entered by SPDC authority representatives and USDA members for the same purpose. Those who refused were taken to the offices of the administrators and threatened and intimidated.  Civil servants were given notice of dismissal. (Source: NLD)

On July 5, 2000 in Hlegu township (Aung-min-gala ward), Rangoon Division SPDC members Ko Kyaw Myint and Ko Kyaw Gaung and Maung Ni got intoxicated and went from house to house forcing people to sign letters against the NLD, threatening them with imprisonment for life and even execution. Ko Saw U of the SPDC village authority also visited every household in the villages copying names from householders’ census lists and forcing them to sign. He threatened that if they did not sign they would be called upon to explain themselves. The authorities involved with collecting the signatures were instructed to make the numbers larger than those shown on the electoral roll of the last elections and to submit them to the township USDA. (Source: NLD)

On July 8, 2000, SPDC sent out their agent to villages in Mone Township, Karen State to register the names of villagers, both men and women, who were 18 and over. They were required to sign their names promising that they would not support NLD if another election was made. The villagers were threatened that severe action would be taken to anyone who does not obey. (Source: KAWU)

In August 2000, the ward and village authorities in the townships of Pakokku and Myaing, Magwe division, went from house to house with papers printed with the words " We demonstrate our desire for the dissolution of the National League for Democracy".  Everyone above 18 was forced to sign and were threatened and intimidated.  In Myaing township, though the villagers of Hnin-se-kan, Kok-ko-su, Paungde, Kan-swe were opposed to putting their signatures on the papers, they did so out of fear for their lives.

The threats made were:

1. Their names would be listed and submitted to the higher authorities,

2. They would be arrested and imprisoned,

3. Students would not be permitted to continue their schooling,

4. Permission to cultivate the land would be revoked.

In the Paung-de village tract the military authorities led the groups that went from house to house collecting signatures. They threatened to accuse those who were reluctant to sign of  being rebels and underground operators. (Source: NLD)

As of August 2000, the SPDC was compiling a list of every eligible voter in the Rangoon division in order to get them to sign their names on lists calling for the dissolution of the NLD Township branches in Rangoon Division. This was to be completed before the month of September. The particulars compiled were:


Father’s name

Head of household

Age - date of birth



Constituency Number

(Source: NLD)


Mass Rallies against the NLD

In March 2000, Official newspapers reported more than 111,000 people in Taungtha township rallied at separate sites to express their hostility to the pro-democracy NLD. The newspapers said all those attending the rallies had signed a petition against the party. They said the township, Taungtha, had 118,205 eligible voters.

In April 2000, state controlled media claimed that hundreds of thousands of people had turned out for mass rallies directed against NLD. There were reports that demonstrations in Upper Burma had been staged in Kyaukpadaung and Nahtogyi townships in Mandalay division as well as in neighbouring Ngazun township in Sagaing division. Over 300,000 people in the three townships were said to have attended dozens of meetings in village tracts throughout the area and they were calling for the dissolution of the NLD. Mass meetings in nine delta townships in Irrawaddy division seem to have taken a different tack. More than half a million voters there were reported to have called on their NLD MPs to resign.

From April 2, 2000, every household in the villages in Minhla Township, Pegu Division, was visited by the authorities and leaders of the USDA. All those over 18 were required to give their signatures. Students who had passed the 10th standard or had recently graduated from higher education were told if they refused to sign that job opportunities would be denied to them.  Cultivators who arrived at Paddy Purchase Centers to sell their "duty lentils" were required to affix their signatures.  Those who refused to do so were threatened with the confiscation of their farmlands. Monthly wages and pensions of civil servants were withheld if they made any objections, and they were further threatened with the loss of their jobs.  The authorities and members of the USDA forged signatures of those who refused to sign. The signatures were gathered in preparation for the demonstration on May 10, 2000 against NLD legally elected representatives of constituencies in Pegu Division, Minhla township (both East and West), to denounce and destroy the NLD. (Source: NLD)

In June 2000 in the townships of Aung Lan and Sin-baung-we, Magwe division, shouting demonstrations were staged to dissolve the NLD. The first took place on June 20 in Sin-baung-we town. A similar event was held on June 24, 2000 in the playground in front of the No 1 High School. Prior to these events, the military authorities used the USDA to pressure people and forcefully get their signatures for the demonstration. To get these signatures as quickly as possible, a committee of five was formed in Aung Lan township to summon and talk to dissenters.  Those who refused to sign were summoned to the township authorities. Orders were issued for the immediate arrest of dissidents. (Source: NLD)

On June 25, 2000 a function denouncing the NLD as a party with bad doctrines and calling for its dissolution because of a loss of confidence was held and signed petitions were presented in Seitkyi Khanaungtoe township, southern Rangoon Division. (Source: NLD)

On July 4, 2000, Maj-Gen Sit Maung, Commander of Coastal Region Command and chairman of Tenasserim Division PDC arrived in Kawthaung in Tenasserim Division and held talks on matters relating to the dissolution of the NLD among other things. At the meeting, Maj-Gen Sit Maung gave detailed instructions to acquire obligatory service from private coastal passenger vessels and road transport enterprise vehicles to transport villagers from along the coast and villages respectively so that the attendance at the rally to be held in Kawthaung to denounce the NLD would exceed the target of over 10,000 people. He also urged regional security officials to coordinate and work closely with ward administrative personnel and USDA members and form watchdog groups to monitor monasteries, schools and Kawthaung-Ranong [Thailand] border crossings in order to prevent anti-government subversive activities in Kawthaung District. (Source: DVB)

In the first week of July, 2000, the SPDC township authorities of Natmauk (Magwe Division) summoned all the villagers in the township and ordered that shouting demonstrations against the NLD be staged at 9 different locations. The USDA helped obtain signatures from the wards, towns and villages for the said demonstrations. (Source: NLD)

From July 26 to 29 2000, anti NLD rallies were held in Let Ban Chaung village, Mout Lin Township, and Nat Chaung, Tha Si, Kyung Dite, and Aung Tit Sar villages in Monywa Township, Sagaing Division. The meeting was held by order and threat. Tactical Commander Hla Tun from SPDC also attended the meeting. Anti NLD rallies were staged in various town across Sagaing Division. (Source: Inside Burma)

On July 29, 2000 a demonstration to shout "no-confidence" slogans against the NLD and to demand its dissolution was held at the Phaungyi Central Public Service University and Hlegu  A-Hta-Ka School Football field, Rangoon Division. These functions were chaired by Ko Ni, Chairman of the SPDC township authority, and Ko Kyi Aung, USDA Secretary. In the township of Thon-gwa the same kind of preparations were made to demonstrate against the NLD.  Every house was visited to collect names and signatures of people over 18 years of age. (Source: NLD)

On August 12, 2000 at 5:00 a.m. a no-confidence rally against the NLD, attended by 300 USDA members, was staged at the Aung San Thuyira Aye Cho Hall. Constituencies 1 and 2 of Twante township, with 276 villages, has a population of over 200,000. Prior to that, on July 23, 2000, USDA ward and village authorities had begun collecting signatures of no-confidence against the NLD, under orders from Dr. Thein Zaw Myint, USDA Secretary, Twante township. Ward and village USDA members, Auxiliary Fire Brigade members and Red Cross members entered every house, asked for the household census list, took down the names of everyone 18 years and older and asked for their signatures. They gave various reasons for this exercise, such as distribution of rice, the Kyauktawgyi Pagoda festival and new elections. Those who were reluctant to sign were told that as this was an order from above and failure to do so would have dire consequences. However, the majority refused to sign. While some maintained that they supported the NLD, others took a neutral position and the rest were indifferent and didn’t want to have anything to do with politics. So the task force were only able to get their names and not their signatures. (Source: NLD)

On August 15, 2000, a no-confidence shouting demonstration against the NLD was held in Kaw-hmu township, Rangoon division. Prior to this, on July 29, 2000, a plan was made at the annual general meeting of the USDA between the authorities and USDA members to hold the demonstration. It was decided that members of the USDA would not wear their uniforms while doing their rounds. The following day a meeting of the ward and village authorities was held. They were instructed to get the signatures of everyone 18 years old and above, make a list of those who refused to sign and to make it compulsory for one member of every household to attend the demonstration. Ten-house-headmen, hundred-house-headmen and USDA members in mufti then proceeded to forcibly enter every house and demand names of those over 18. The names were then entered on prepared forms under the title "Signatures of Kaw-hmu voters who have lost confidence in the National League for Democracy (a party with bad doctrines) and ask for its dissolution".  The residents were then pressured to attend the shouting demonstration on August 2000.(Source: NLD)

Mass Rallies against NLD MP elects

U Kyaw Myint, NLD MP

On January 21, 2000 a no-confidence shouting demonstration was staged against U Kyaw Myint, NLD Member of Parliament for Constituency 1, Magwe township, Magwe Division. The demonstration was held at the Magwe Sports Field and in the Nyaung kan village tract to comply with the wishes of  the authorities. (Source: NLD)

U Than Lwin, NLD MP

On March 29, 2000, a "No Confidence" rally was held against U Than Lwin, NLD MP, and Chairman of the NLD township organizing committee of Madaya Township, Mandalay Division. He is an active party member who had just been released from 18 months of imprisonment for his part in the call for convening parliament. At least one member from each household in the township was forced to attend the demonstration. Prior to the demonstration, USDA members and township authorities had obtained, by force or by forgery, signatures from all households in the township. The reason for obtaining signatures was not disclosed and those who refused to sign were told that their names would be listed and submitted to higher authorities. If they did not want to rebel against the SPDC, they were obliged to sign. The USDA members were sent to the villages where residents refused to sign and again threatened them.  In the end, they resorted to criminal acts of forgery. U Thn Lwin sent a letter in very strong terms objecting to this demonstration against him to the Madaya adminstrative authorities, the Elections Commission, the USDA and the NLD. U Than Lwin was then arrested in early May 2000. (Source: NLD)

(See Appendix #2 at the end of this chapter)


Daw May Hnin Kyi and U Bo Hla Tint, NLD MPs

On May 7, 2000 the USDA organized a demonstration to denounce NLD Representatives U Bo Hla Tint and Daw May Hnin Kyi, (Constituency 1 and 2) and for the dissolution of the NLD in Aung-tha-ya Ward, Mogok, Mandalay division. Daw May Hnin Kyi is one of the 15 female members of parliament from NLD who won support in 1990 general elections. The SPDC had been pressuring Daw May Hnin Kyi to resign but when she refused, the SPDC’s USDA organized the secession.

Prior to the incident, on May 3, 2000, residents were ordered by the ward authorities to assemble at the Primary School No.(87) at 10:00 a.m. with their household census lists. These lists were collected by members of the USDA, who then copied the particulars from these lists on to printed forms, which they brought with them. One member from each household was made to sign on the dotted line on behalf of all the members of the household. When people questioned why their signatures were required, U Khwa Lone, a member of the USDA, said it was to indicate a loss of confidence in NLD Pyithu Hlutaw, Representatives U Bo Hla Tint and Daw May Hnin Kyi. They were also told that those who did not sign would be listed for the records. Some individuals refused to sign and tore up the papers and their names were taken down by the authorities. USDA members, ward authorities, and others then visited every household, going from door to door, attempting to obtain signatures from everyone 18 years and older. (Source: NLD)

Dr. Win Naing, NLD MP

In May 2000, in Syrium township, Rangoon Division, U Kyin Aye, U Hoke Shwe (members of the administrative authority), U Aung Kyaw Myo (UBSDO member), Daw Myint Myint (Parent and Child Care) and others visited every house in the Township to obtain signatures on prepared forms indicating loss of confidence in Dr. Win Naing (currently under arrest) NLD MP elect from Constituency No 1, Syrium township. In order to obtain the signatures, intimidation and deception were used. At the homes of NLD members they visited, they alleged that the signatures were required for a petition on behalf of Dr. Win Naing. At other houses, they applied pressure and forced the people to sign threatening them with arrest and imprisonment. (Source: NLD)

U Tin U and U San Maung, NLD MPs

On May 13, 2000, at the Ah-Hta-Ka school football field and the Aye-mya-tha-ya playing field, there were organized demonstrations against two NLD MP’s, U Tin U for Constituency No 1, and U San Maung for Constituency No 2, Pegu Division (West subdivision), Tharrawaddy District, Oak-po township. These demonstrations were organized following a "confidential" document, which U Tin Htwe, Secretary of Oke-po USDA had produced on May 6, 2000. This document called for the implementation of a plan to "demolish" the NLD, and called for negotiation between township authorities and all associations, including NGO associations, to get participation in the demonstrations. The central planning committee for the demonstrations comprised of public service personnel from different departments, administrations and authorities, and USDA members. These persons had been working to collect signatures and organize the event since April 25, 2000. The function cost an estimated 439, 200 kyats, which was taken from the people’s own money. (Source:NLD)

U Nyi Pu, NLD MP in Arakan State

On May 31, 2000, the authorities staged a mass meeting in the Gwa town hall with a group of people who were forced and pressured to bring down U Nyi Pu, NLD MP elect of Gwa township, Arakan State. This meeting was organized and stage-managed by the Military Intelligence and the authorities at every level in the township administrative department, the police department, the Union Solidarity and Development Association, the Fire Brigade and the Red Cross Association.  They visited every house in the wards and villages, threatening, coercing, cajoling and pressuring the people to put their signatures to papers. The outlying villages were visited ten days prior to the meeting while those households in the town were visited one day ahead.  They were told that attendance at the meeting was compulsory.  Failure to attend would result in punishment. Those who asked questions were treated like enemies. When Daw Win Kyi (U Nyi Pu’s wife) refused to sign the paper, the Ward headman said "you will not be arrested now because your child is very young, but as soon as he is old enough we will immediately arrest and imprison you."

The speeches given at that meeting were unrestrained, void of embarrassment by feelings of respect or delicacy.  Abusive, scathing and violent remarks to hurt the MP elect and the leaders of the NLD caused some of the audience to shudder and squirm.  Attempts to walk out caused a disturbance because the doors were locked and guarded by the MI, the police, USDA , Fire Brigade and Red Cross members who hurled abuse at them. (Source: NLD)

U Myint Thein, NLD MP

On June 5, 2000 at Chauk township, Magwe division, a shouting demonstration was staged against NLD Pyithu Hluttaw representative U Myint Thein and for the closing down of the NLD. An organizing committee comprised of township USDA members, township SPDC authorities, and township election commission representatives had been formed for this specific purpose. (Source: NLD)

U Tha Aung, NLD MP

On June 15, 2000 a no-confidence shouting demonstration was staged against U Tha Aung, NLD MP for Constituency 1 of Myothit township, Magwe division. Prior to the event, during the months of March, April and May 2000, USDA members, administrative authorities, police, civil servants and members of other organizations collected signatures on prepared forms by visiting every house in the wards and villages of Myothit township. There was compulsory attendance by 2 to 3 members of every family and the penalty for default was kyats 500/-.  (Source: NLD)

12.13 Measures to restrict NLD gatherings

NLD prohibited from holding committee meeting

On March 6, 2000 members of the New Dagon Township, Rangoon Division NLD organizing committee were summoned by local authorities and prohibited from holding a committee meeting, using defunct laws. Following a  written notice to the Chairman of the New Dagon township General Elections Commission and the Township PDC which informed them of the NLD meeting, U Thoung Nyunt (Chairman),  Dr. Myo Aung (Secretary) and Daw Hla Hla (Treasurer and owner of the NLD office premises at New Dagon township) were summoned for discussions. The chairman of the General Elections Commission said that though the NLD was a duly registered political organization, since martial law was in force, permission for holding meetings had to be obtained. Evidently, the speaker and his party intended to instill fear or were ignorant of the fact that martial law had been withdrawn on 26 May 1990 by SLORC ‘s Order 12/90. The Chairman went on to say that of those members that were registered in 1991 only one remained on the list and that since the branch had not submitted the list of the remaining members, they were not valid. There in nothing in the Political Parties Registration Law regarding such matters. The authorities have acted unlawfully in denying the party the right to hold their meeting and threatening to take action against them should there be an assembly at the office on March 7th. (Source: NLD)

Shan Leaders "Invited" To Government Guesthouse On Election Anniversary
On May 27 2000, 3 Shan leaders were detained throughout the day during the 10th anniversary of the 1990 elections, and prevented from attending celebrations at the NLD compound. The three leaders were; Khun Htoon Oo, President of Shan Nationalities League for Democracy (SNLD), Sai Nood a.k.a. Sai Nyunt Lwin, General Secretary of the SNLD and Shwe Ohn, ex-Shan People’s Freedom League leader and author of the popular political essay, "Towards the Third Union of Burma". They were "invited" to one of the government guesthouses in Rangoon, early in the morning of May 27 as they were preparing to participate in the 10
th anniversary celebrations held at the compound of Aung San Suu Kyi. At the government guesthouses, the three were treated to lunch and dinner and a series of diatribes against Aung San Suu Kyi and the NLD all day long. They were driven back home in the evening. (Source: SHAN)

Roadblocks around NLD Headquarters

On several occasions throughout the year 2000, the SPDC set up military intelligence and police manned roadblocks in front of the NLD headquarters in Rangoon. Such roadblocks occurred on all the days significant to the NLD, such as the 10th anniversary of the 1990 elections on May 27, and the 12th anniversary of the founding of the NLD on September 27 2000. These roadblocks were an attempt to hinder these NLD gatherings. (See chapter on the freedom of movement)


12.14 Guest Lists and Restrictions on Public gatherings enforced

On September 5, 2000, British Ambassador to Myanmar, John Jenkins, was told by a plainclothes police officer not to enter the office of the NLD. The government was irked by his attempt the same weekend to visit the house of NLD deputy chairman Tin Oo. A government statement issued on the 5th said Jenkins had overstepped "universal diplomatic norms." "It is difficult to understand why a foreign ambassador was so adamant to intrude into the internal affairs of an independent and sovereign nation," it said.

Enforcement of guest lists in Loikaw, Karenni State

The Loikaw city authorities, USDA, police and troops have been jointly making rounds to every house in the city when the news comes out that the SPDC Secretary 1, Lt.-Gen Khin Nyunt will visit the state. At this time, all families have to register their 3-4 year-old child at the ward office as a guest. If they fail to do so, they are asked to pay a fine of 500 kyat. Families that are unable afford this amount are put in jail by the authorities for seven days with hard labor. When the authorities and troops enter houses where they suspect someone is hiding, they say, "we heard there’s some illegal properties here and we need to search" and kick open the door. They then shut the door and question about matters irrelevant to the people in the houses. If they don’t find anything, they demand money for their work. In the second week of February a villager took her sick brother to a friend’s house in the city for medical care at the Loikaw hospital. The two arrived in the city around 01:00 AM, and decided to report to the ward office the following morning, as it was too late at night to report then. Unexpectedly, the ward authorities and polices suddenly appeared and checked for guests. They asked the friend to go with them to the office, and demanded a fine of 1,500 kyat for failing to report the guests right away. The friend was released after paying the demand. This is very common in Loikaw City. (Source: KNAHR)


Villagers in Paung Township, Mon State restricted from gathering for Buddhist celebration

For the 2000 "Thadin-jyunt" full moon celebrations on October 12, which marks the end of the Buddhist lent and is culturally and religiously significant for the Buddhist majority community, there was an unusually few number of people able to attend the celebrations. This was due to an order which had been issued by the Paung township PDC to prevent the villagers from gathering and discussing with one another, and the presence of the township officials, who had been keeping an eye on the public. (Source: HURFOM)



12.15 Restrictions on political involvement and contact with opposition groups

Anti-Insurgency Public Rallies in Southern Shan State

On January 5, 2000, an anti-insurgency rally was held at Tonpheung Village, Poongpakhem Tract, Mongton Township, Monghsat District, Shan State. Among the speakers were government civil servants, retired military men and "hand picked" local villagers including Ms. Zingpwint, a Shan primary school teacher. The people at the gathering were asked how they liked the rebels destroying everything the military in cooperation with the people had achieved. The people had no choice but to answer in unison that they did not, although few understood what was spoken. Each household in the surrounding area was forced to send one of its members to attend the event under threat of a 5,000 kyat fine for each absentee. Another rally was also decided upon at the 9 January meeting at Mongtaw, a town taken from Khun Sa after his surrender in early 1996. (Source: SHAN)

Villagers threatened against association with ethnic insurgency groups

On June 29, 2000, the commander of the 99th battalion assembled the headmen from every village for a meeting in Ham Ngai base, Murng Kerng township, Shan State. He ordered and forced every headman to sign their names on a document which read, "From now on, in the villages and everywhere in the area, there have to be no SSA troops. After signing this document, if a battle breaks out with SSA, without us first getting news of them or if they catch sight of SSA’s mobile camps in the jungle and if that area is near to headman’s village, that headman will be punished heavily and the villages will be burned down or relocated to other places." The village headmen from Ham Ngai, Wan Mong, Parng Neu, Murng Kerng township have no choice but to obey the order. (Source: SSA)

On August 26, 2000, LIB 563 led by 2nd Battalion Commander Maj. Htun Htun Oo entered Mazaw village, Mergui District, Tenasserim Division, and ordered the villagers to call back their relatives who work in resistance forces. The commander threatened the villagers that if no-one returned, that the villagers would face more restrictions.
(Source: KNU Mergui-Tavoy)

On December 10, 2000, the village chairman of Kwan-Hla village in Mudon Township, Mon State, U Weak, was asked by LIB 62 to make the list of NMSP members residing in the area. The NMSP reached ceasefire agreement with the military junta a few years ago. LIB 62 gave no reason why it wanted to make the list. (Source: Yoma3)

Contact between army and politicians banned

On December 23, 2000, the SPDC War Office issued a special internal announcement intended for its military officers. The announcement prohibits currently serving military officers from having any contact with veteran politicians who once fought for Burma’s independence, former military officers who belong to the NLD party, and any retired military officer who was once connected with politics one way or another. It stated any officer who violates the prohibition will be dismissed from his position and will also face severe consequences. The order also cited that contacts with veteran politicians and retired senior military officers could cause undesirable internal problems in the army. The order was signed by SPDC Chairman Sen Gen Than Shwe himself. The announcement also affirmed that no officer for any reason must contact the veteran politicians who participated in the struggle for Burma’s independence in various capacities.

According to reports received by DVB, the special announcement was issued because some military officers came back with different views and opinions after knowing the true historical facts following meetings with the veteran politicians.

According to an unidentified police officer, this announcement was sent not only to the armed forces but also to the police, township Peace and Development Councils, and Customs and General Administration Departments. Current in-service civil officers are also directed not to have any contact with persons who are directly or indirectly involved with politics.
(Source: DVB)

People forced to attend pro-military events and rallies

On May 9, 2000, people in Tachilek township were forced to wear their traditional costumes and wait all morning along the main road from the airport to the town in order to greet General Maung Aye, Vice Chairman of the SPDC, and his entourage when they arrived from Rangoon that afternoon. Starting at 6:00 a.m. that day, people from villages along the road from town to the airport and all the townspeople of Ta-Khi-Laek town had to wear their different traditional costumes and stand in wait along the airport-town road through which Gen. Maung Aye would be coming. As the time went on and the day got hotter, people began to suffer from the heat and hunger as many had not eaten anything that morning, thinking that the General would arrive early. However, they were not allowed to leave their spots by the members of the USDA overseeing the event and were forced to stand in the sun until 1:00 p.m., when Gen. Maung Aye arrived. When the guests arrived, the people had to stand quietly with their hands in front of them, palms together in a position of respect, as they went by. (Source: SHRF)

On July 10, 2000, SPDC troops forced villagers to go to Kyawk Kyi Town, Kyaukkyi Township, Nyaung-lay-bin District, Karen State in order to participate in a demonstration of the "people’s desire". 20,000 people attend the demonstration. (Source: KIC, KAWU)

In the Annual meeting of the USDA on August 18, 2000, Major General Myo Hla, vice-commander in chief of South East Command, ordered that one person from each village in Mudon Township must attend a USDA training that was to be held on August 21 2000. Over 300 members of USDA attended the Annual USDA meeting in Mon State, a small number considering Major General Myo Hal claim that there are 990,000 members in Mon State. (Source: YOMA 3)

Villagers forced to form "Anti-Insurgency Forces"

Beginning in June 2000, LIB No. 273 and No. 282 went to many main villages in the Yebyu township area and called meetings with headmen from all villages in each village tract. The village headmen were then required to cooperate with the battalions in forming and an "Anti-Insurgency Force" (village militia) to fight any rebel forces and prevent them from entering the village areas.

On June 1, 2000, they officially formed a village tract militia force with 30 members in Kwe-tho-nyima village tract, which consists of 6 villages. (Kwe-tho-nyima, Chaung-phar, Thaung-kun, Chabon, Mae-taw and Chattaw) Then in July, LIB No. 282 moved to Mintha village tract and forced the village headmen to form a militia force with 30 members. In this village tract, there are about 7 villages, and army took only selected villagers who were under their firm control. At the beginning of August, LIB No. 282 went to Yapu village tract and formed a military force with 26 members. In this village tract, there are six villages. (Yapu, Yapu-ywathit, Law-thaing, Kwetalin, Kyaukadin and Aleskan)

When they formed the militia forces, they also equipped them with arms or weapons such as AK-47, M-16, G-3, G-4 and M-79 and additionally trained them how to use these guns and equipment. All these militia forces are under supervision of village tract chairmen and all chairmen are also under the command of the concerned SPDC battalion commander. At the moment, all of these militia forces are under the command of LIB No. 282 commander forces are under the command of LIB No. 282 commander and open respective Anti-Insurgency Force in each main village of village tract. The commander also instructed to headmen and villagers that they must take responsibility to pay 10, 000 kyat salary to each militiaman for their service protecting the villages and the headmen need to collect from villagers every month. (Source: HURFOM)


Business men forced to search for rebel documents or prohibited from travel

In Kauthong, the combined task force of Military intelligence (19), SB, Custom, Immigration, police, and Border Security Group summoned all fishing- owners, boatmen, and merchants. The combined task force made those people required to find rebels’ news paper, documents and handouts. The authorities insisted that any of those people who would go to Ranong to sell their products, were to find any of the above documents and if one failed to do so, he would be barred to go to Ranong again and even worse, he could be charged for illegal smuggling of Burmese goods.

U Myint Maung was the first in line. He couldn’t bring the documents back to the Burmese authorities and therefore, his two fishing boats were barred to cross the border again. Even though U Myint Maung bribed 50,000 kyats to the authorities, his boats were still prohibited to go across for two months. The Burmese authorities’ act made the business men to desparately search for rebels’ papers. (Source: Yoma3)

Forced to attend military training

In mid 2000, ex-serviceman under control of the SPDC ordered 3 people from each township in Sagaing Division and Chin State to attend special military training courses in Monroa military camp, Sagaing Division. They divided into three groups for training. The first training was held from August 7 to August 30, 2000, the second from September 4 to September 22, and the third from October 2 to October 20. During the training, no-one was allowed to leave the camp, and the trainers also gave a speech in which they said, "we should kill Aung San Suu Kyi instead of condemn her." The trainers were Colonel Tun Nyo, Lt. Colonel Than Nynut and Lt. Colonel Khin Maung Than. (Source: Inside Burma)


12. 16 The Union Solidarity and Development Association

The Union Solidarity and Development Organization (USDA) was formed on September 15 1993, about 2 weeks after the announcement to hold a national convention to write a new constitution. The USDA is registered with the Ministry of Home Affairs, and although it is not a political party, some claim that it was created to rival the opposition National League for Democracy in terms of popular support. The USDA mandate is to support the activities and policies of the military, and as the junta has been trying to raise its profile as the true representative of the Burmese people. Membership in the USDA is virtually compulsory for school children, civil servants and anyone seeking the favor of the generals.

The organization claims that membership is voluntary, and that the purpose of the association is essentially social, yet even at the basic and middle school levels, students are pressured to become members. This pressure includes the incentive that if the students have fulfilled their "social" requirements, they receive extra marks on their final examination and recommendations from their schoolteachers. One of the mandatory school fees in 2000 was the 50 kyat USDA membership fee. Members of all ages are given socially and economically desirable incentives for joining. USDA members have the privilege of attending vocational, language, management and other courses, and the organization has significant community development and educational offerings to attract membership.

The organization claims to be non-political, and members are required to stay away from party politics, yet since its formation the USDA has been directly involved in opposing the NLD, and recently has been involved in organizing events to call for the abolishment of the NLD. USDA members, along with the police and MIS forces have been actively involved in pressuring NLD members to resign, and in coercing or often forcing the populace to sign papers stating their "loss of trust" in the NLD, the CRPP, and/or certain elected MPs. In another disturbing trend, portraying how the USDA has become more openly tied to the military and its power, USDA members and leaders have been increasingly involved in the arbitrary arrests of those suspected to be in opposition to the regime, going along with SPDC and MIS agents, or even sometimes alone. The USDA has also achieved the power status which enables members and leaders to call upon the populace to "contribute" their labor for free. USDA involvement in forced labor has been especially notable over the last 2 years.

The USDA claims further to be fully supported by their own businesses, such as the Myan-Gon-Myint Group of Companies. Yet the organization does receive support, both direct and indirect from the military regime, the military is its patron. Its is fully backed by the regime, and in contrast to attacks on the NLD, the military’s ‘New Light of Myanmar’ consistently praises the USDA. On September 16 2000, Senior General Than Shwe addressed the USDA annual general meeting and praised it as "a reliable force, serving the historic duty of undertaking tasks in line with our three main national causes…" When Lt.-Gen. Win Myint flew into Beijing on October 25, he was greeted not by his title as a senior member of the SPDC, but as vice-president of the USDA. China is the only country to have recognized and forged party-to-party ties with the USDA.

The close ties that the USDA shares with the regime, and its role as the only truly ‘social organization" has led to the observation that the organization may have been modeled after Golkar, which had been a military sponsored social organization before it was converted into Indonesia’s former ruling party under Suharto. Lt. Gen. Khin Nyunt has said specifically that he admired Indonesian "stability."

The tight relationship between the SPDC and USDA can further be seen through the power sharing and privilege that comes to USDA members. In the past, former BSPP members were appointed by SPDC authorities as Township PDC authorities, a position of high power. This has now been changed as it is now, in large, people with USDA connections that are appointed to these prestigious posts.

The organization has state and division, district, township, and ward and village-tract branches. In the annual general USDA meeting in September 2000 the organization claimed to have more then 14 million members. This number was reported to be only 5 million, or 12% of the population in 1999.


Pressure to join the USDA

On February 2 2000, the USDA of No 4 Ward, South Okkalapa township of Rangoon division held a meeting in the office of the ward PDC, led by Secretary U Mya Naing. The aim of the meeting was to formulate strategy to annihilate the NLD, especially the NLD in Rangoon Division. It was decided that every single house must be visited and their membership to the USDA obtained, even those who may have gone to the districts. Following the meeting, South Okkalapa USDA members accompanied by PDC members began knocking on every door in the township and recruiting members to their organization through various means of seduction, induction and enticement. In many wards, they demanded to see the household list, and made notes or took the list away with them. In other wards, Immigration and Manpower Department personnel accompanied the USDA members and pretended to be preparing the census for the year 2000. In addition, pressure was applied to every adult individual listed in the household census to sign the USDA membership form and supply 3 copies of their photographs, which cost kyats 200. The cost for a family with more than one member is heavy and is causing great hardship at a time when the cost of living is so high. (Source: NLD)

USDA involved in a riot suppression training course

Beginning in mid 2000, a training course called ‘Union Solidarity and Development Training’ was held in several Rangoon Division townships, including Thakayta , South Okkalar , North Okkalar, Thingunkyun , Dawpon, Latha , and Lammadaw. The training courses were conducted in part by the  MIS from MI # 6 and other sponsors. The trainees from the Myanmar Red Cross, the Fire Brigade , USDA and the Rangoon area police force were taught methods with which to suppress riots. (Source: Inside Burma)

Census taken in Mon State to determine USDA members

On October 23, 2000, the USDA in Paung Township took a census of every village and then conscripted the families who hadn’t yet become members of SPDC sub-associations. Moreover, the USDA in Paung village tract has been keeping an eye on illegal youth associations, and pressure on young people to join SPDC sponsored and approved social organizations. (Source: HURFOM)

12. 17 Other Social Organizations in Burma

People in Burma are only allowed to associate with social organizations approved by, and under the control of the SPDC. In addition to the USDA, the government backs the following organizations, and pressures the population to join them. The Myanmar Medical Association (MMA), Myanmar Red Cross (MRC), Myanmar Maternal and Child Welfare Association (MMCWA) , Myanmar Anti-Narcotic Association, Auxiliary Fire Brigade, Parent Teacher Associations, Women’s Welfare Association and the Myanmar Nurses Association (MNA) are included in this approved list of organizations. The extent to which these organizations, which are located at township levels across the country, are dominated by the SPDC varies. However, these organizations are generally led by senior officials with military backgrounds, or the wives of senior officials, military officers, or USDA members, as is often the case with the chairpersons of the local MMCWA. Members of these organizations are expected to participate in pro-military and USDA rallies, or anti-opposition rallies, and often the political agendas of the regime have more precedence in the organization then the actual social issues the organizations are supposed to address. A select number of local NGOs, mostly religious and church-backed organizations, are able to operate limited social programs. However, SPDC laws confine them to religious activities. These organizations are not allowed to be registered as Non-governmental Organizations (NGOs) in Burma, and are instead under the Ministry of Home and Religious Affairs. This non-NGO status limits overseas funding or ability to conduct in-country training with foreign experts. These programs are also under the constant surveillance of the SPDC and the SPDC backed social organizations. For the most part, individuals in SPDC controlled areas of Burma who desire to work for their communities have no alternative but to join government sanctioned organizations.

Even International Non-governmental Organization (INGOs) are subjected to the control of the SPDC and have their freedom of association infringed upon. In order for INGOs to operate programs inside Burma, they must obtain Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) from top generals in the SPDC (an exception is the INGOs which are in Arakan State under the UNHCR mandate for the Rohingya repatriation.) One of the items in these ‘MOUs’ is that " …..its (NGO) representatives and personnel shall not interfere with the political and religious affairs of Myanmar and shall abide by the laws and regulations of Myanmar." As most INGOs do not wish to jeopardize their programs, they instruct their staff to avoid activities that would put them in disfavor with the junta, including association with the NLD or INGOs working for Burmese people in other countries, which are often associated with the democratic opposition.

Appendix # 1


Appendix #6 - Sample of ‘Withdrawal of Support for NLD’ form

6 April 2000


By signing this we are indicating our withdrawal of support for the aboveground insurgent organization (NLD) and desire its dissolution.

Mandalay division ,   ................................  township, ............................ward/village tract, ................. village.

Name of head of household, name, father’s name, national registration number, date of birth, address, signature.


Appendix #7 New Light of Myanmar article concerning U Than Lwin


YANGON, 4 May-Authorities have taken action against U Than Lwin, an ex-representative-elect of National League for Democracy of Madaya Township, Mandalay Division, in accord with the law for writing and distributing letters of concocted accusations and giving agitative talks in some villages.

Voters of Madaya Township have already presented signed petitions expressing confidence in U Than Lwin on 30 March at Kyauksayit and Shinhla (North) villages in the township, openly declaring their withdrawal of support on him as a representative-elect. The ceremonies were attended by over 8,700 voters and the people of 39 villages. The delegates of the people and the voters had already presented the petitions signed by 41,390 voters or 99.01 per cent of the voters expressing no confidence in U Than Lwin to members of the Township Multiparty Democracy General Election Sub-Commission.

Concerning the matter, U Than Lwin was not satisfied with the authorities and Union Solidarity and Development Association of the township and distributed letters of accusations, saying that the authorities had made threats that any villager who failed to sign the petition will be fined K 500 or be ordered to dig five pits of earth, to Madaya Township Peace. and Development Council, Multiparty Democracy General Election Commission, Township Multiparty Democracy General Election Sub-Commission and USDA offices. In addition to such acts, he toured Wayindok, Pwetainggeaw, Sinttaingkan. Kyauktada, Lekawgyi, Taungtanga, Panya and Shwetachaung villages in the township and gave instigative talks to the villagers. The authorities had had to call in U Than Lwin for inquiry as the villagers filed a complaint on him as they disliked his agitative talks.

U Than Lwin could not present firm evidence concerning his accusations and agitative talks; moreover, he confessed that he had made fabrications based on rumors as he was displeased with the ceremonies to express no confidence in him. Legal action is being taken against U Than Lwin, U Kyaw Shwe, U Nyein Maung and U Tin Aung Lay for breaching the existing laws, such as, launching fabricated accusations on township organizations, making instigation s to threaten peace and stability by spreading rumors in trying to mislead the people and illegally organizing villagers without seeking permission of the respective local authorities.

Appendix #8

Permit for a guest to sleep

Date: xx-9-2000

Name: Pa aaaa
Age: xx years
Address: xxxx [village]
Host house: Maung bbbb



yyyy village

[In Burma no one is allowed to have a visitor without first clearing it with the authorities, or the host family and the guest can be summarily arrested and detained or sent away as porters. In this case, even though the guest is a known village head he needs a pass to stay in a friend’s house when visiting another village.]


(Source: KHRG)