Aung San (1915-1947)
of the modern Tatmadaw. Upon graduation from Rangoon University,
where he was a leader of a student strike against the British
colonial government in February 1936, he joined the nationalist
Dobama Asiayone ("We Burmans Association"), becoming
its secretary-general in 1939.
the Second World War, he formed the Burma Independence Army (BIA)
with Japanese assistance, leading a core group known as the Thirty
Comrades. Served as Minister of Defense in the Japanese-installed
puppet government, but later led the BIA (renamed the Burma National
Army) against the Imperial Army.
helping the Allies to defeat the Japanese in 1945, he formed key
members of the BNA into the paramilitary Peopleís Volunteer Organization
to pressure the British to grant independence. Resigned from active
military service to play a political role in negotiations with
the British, finally reaching an agreement in January 1947. In
the 1947 constitutional assembly election, his Anti-Fascist Peopleís
Freedom League (AFPFL) won 196 of 202 seats.
before he could become the first prime minister of a fully independent
Burma, he and six colleagues were assassinated by a political
rival on July 19, 1947. [Top]
Ne Win (1911-2002)
de guerre of Shu Maung, a postal clerk who later joined the Thirty
Comrades. Left Rangoon University in 1930 without graduating.
As a member of the Thirty Comrades, he belonged to the right-wing
faction led by Ba Sein. Aung San suspected him of fascist tendencies
and considered expelling him for his behavior under the Japanese.
He later joined the anti-Japanese resistance, but was deeply influenced
by his training under the Japanese secret police.
1949 he became Deputy Prime Minister and Commander-in-Chief of
the Tatmadaw, and in 1958 took over as the head of a caretaker
military administration that lasted until elections were held
1962, he seized power again, arresting Prime Minister U Nu and
members of his cabinet, as well as ethnic leaders. Student protests
were crushed and the historic Student Union building at Rangoon
University dynamited. His Burma Socialist Programme Party (BSPP)
ruled for the next quarter century, until he was forced to step
down in July 1988 following massive pro-democracy protests.
seen since a trip to Indonesia in 1997, there have been numerous
rumors of his death, fueling speculation about what effect this
would have on the ruling junta.
March 2002, his family was sentenced for allegedly staging a coup.
Ne Win and his daughter, Khin Sandar Win, were never charged but
placed under house arrest. His son-in-law and three grandsons
were imprisoned. He died at his lakeside villa on Dec 5 at 7:30
am. He was cremated at noon on the same day. [Top]
Aung San Suu Kyi (1945-)
of Burmese independence leader Gen Aung San. After first fifteen
years in Burma, she lived abroad until 1988, when she returned
to Burma to nurse her sick mother. In August 1988, began addressing
Burmese people about political change and received large amounts
of support. Secretary-general of the National League of Democracy
Party, 1988-present. Placed under house arrest from 1989-1995.
In 1991, awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Continues to play major
role in Burmaís democratic struggle. Placed
under house arrest again from Sept 2000 to May 2002 and commenced
secret talks for national reconciliation with the SPDC in Oct
May 7, 2002, she was released from house arrest after being detained
for 19 months. Since then, she has been allowed to travel around
the country on political trips with relative freedom. [Top]
Than Shwe (1933-)
of the ruling State Peace and Development Council (SPDC).
Passed 10th Standard at Kyakse High School in Mandalay Division.
Worked as a postal clerk before joining the military in 1953.
from the Officer Training School (9th Batch) in Hmawbi. Attached
to the Psychological Warfare Department in 1958. Rose steadily
through the ranks, becoming commander of the Southwest Region
in 1983. Became Vice Chief of Staff with the rank of brigadier
general in 1985. Promoted to major general in 1986 and lieutenant
general in 1987. Was serving as Chairman of the BSPPís Regional
Committee in Irrawaddy Division in 1988 when pro-democracy protests
broke out across the country.
over as Chairman of the State Law and Order Restoration Council
(SLORC) in 1992, and continues to hold the same position in the
SPDC. Also serving as Prime Minister, Minister of Defense, and
Minister of Agriculture.
in his late 60s, he is widely believed to be seeking retirement,
but his role in balancing moderates and hardliners within the
SPDC has so far prevented this. [Top]
Khin Nyunt (1939-)
One of the SPDC. Graduated from the Officerís Training School
(25th Batch) in 1960 and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree.
became commander of Infantry Battalion No. 20 in 1960, and in
the 1970s served as a staff officer at the Defense Ministryís
Bureau of Special Operations. In 1982 he was appointed tactical
operations commander of the 44th Light Infantry Division.
to the capital to take over as head of the Directorate of Defense
Services Intelligence (DDSI) after a North Korean terrorist attack
killed four visiting South Korean Cabinet Ministers and thirteen
other officials in Rangoon in 1984.
to NE Win and instrumental in suppressing the 1988 uprising. Target
of an aborted assassination attempt in 1992 by Tatmadaw
members opposed to his pro-China policy. Also responsible for
controversial cease-fire agreements with Wa druglords. In 1998,
he publicly disowned his son Ye Naing Win for marrying a foreigner.
Widely regarded as the most powerful figure within the ruling
junta, he is also considered a moderate and has officially met
with opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi on two occasions. [Top]
Maung Aye (1940-)
of the SPDC. Joined the military in 1959. Graduated from the Defense
Services Academy (1st Batch) in Maymyo with a Bachelor of Science
1975 served as commander of Infantry Battalion No. 68 as a lieutenant
colonel. Promoted to colonel in 1979 and became commander of the
Northeast Region in 1986. In 1988 he became commander of the Eastern
Region with the rank of brigadier general.
to major general in 1990 and lieutenant general in 1993, when
he was summoned to Rangoon to become Deputy Commander in Chief
(Defense Services). Named Vice-Chairman of the SLORC in 1994,
and holds the same position in the SPDC.
as a hardliner and a rival of SPDC Secretary One Lt-Gen Khin Nyunt,
in 1997 he moved into NE Winís compound in Rangoon to be closer
to the influential former dictator.
is believed to have cultivated strong ties with influential businessmen
in Shan State during his days as commander of the Eastern Division.
Connected with the recent opening of the Kanbawza Bank in Rangoon.
Tin Oo (1940-2001)
Two of the SPDC. Passed the 9th Standard. Joined the military
in 1959 and attended the Officerís Training School (22nd Batch).
Became commander of Infantry Battalion No. 24 with the rank of
lieutenant colonel in 1979.
to colonel the following year and in 1987 was appointed Army Chief
of Staff. Promoted to brigadier general in 1989, major general
in 1990, and lieutenant general in 1993. Regarded as a hardliner,
in 1997, he was the target of a parcel bomb attack that killed
his eldest daughter.
chief Lt-Gen Khin Nyunt blamed the attack on dissidents based
in Japan, although no one has claimed responsibility. Passed away
in the helicopter crash into the Salween River in Karen state
on Feb 19, 2001. Rumor has it that he was assasinated by a rival
faction, but that is yet unconfirmed. [Top]
Maung Maung (1924-1994)
in the Army during World War II and attended Officersí Training
School, but quit for an academic career after the war. Started the
Guardian magazine in 1954 and the Guardian newspaper
in 1956. Author of Burmaís 1974 Constitution and NE Winís uncritical
biographer. In 1988, replaced Sein Lwin as Burmaís president and
BSPP chairman from August 19 until the September 18st coup, which
set up the Slorc. [Top]
Lwin ( 1924 - ?)
as "the Butcher" for his involvement in many brutal crackdowns
in Burma. In 1943, joined the army and in 1944 he joined NE Winís
4th Burma Rifles. Killed Karen leader U BA Gyi. Head of the security
force involved in the Rangoon Student Union massacred on July 7,
1962. Took over BSPP for a short time after NE Win resigned, July
26 - August 12, 1988. Involved in the crackdown on student demonstrators
in early 1988. Believed that the short-lived president of Burma
continues to hold meetings with current military leaders. His position
is "senior adviser." Rumors persist that he has passed
away but they are unconfirmed. [Top]
1949 began his military career. Became a major in 1967 and chief
of staff in 1985. Minister of defense under Sein Lwin and until
he retired. Chairman of Slorc 1988-1992. Resigned for medical reasons.
role in Burmese politics spans its post-independence era. Served as
president of the Rangoon University Studentsí Union from 1935-36,
vice-president and president of the AFPFL 1945-47, and as Prime Minister
from 1948-56, 1957-58, and 1960-62. After serving a prison term 1962-66,
he left and formed a resistance movement in Thailand 1969-73. After
the 1980 amnesty, returned to retire in Rangoon, but in 1988, he proclaimed
an interim government. [Top]
in Independence movement and anti-Japanese struggle. Member of New
Winís 4th Burma Rifles. Played a role in the caretaker government
of 1958-60 and was a member of the Revolutionary Council of 1962,
serving as vice-chief of staff and Minister of trade and industry.
Ousted in 1963 for statements made in Japan about the cause of the
coups. Imprisoned in 1965-68, 1973-74, and July 29 - August 25,
1988. His letters critical of the government in 1987-88 were an
important opening for opposition to the government. However, he
was unwilling to go against NE Win. Served as President of the NLD
but resigned on December 3, 1988 to form Union Nationals Democracy
Party on December 16. Remains intermittently active in politics.
Still writes open letters to NE Win and his favorite daughter Sanda
Tin Oo [NLD] (1927-)
as Chief of Staff and minister of defense 1974-1976. In 1976, imprisoned
for alleged involvement in an alleged coup attempt in July 1976.
Released in 1980, during amnesty. In August 1988, emerged as prominent
opposition leader and became vice-chairman of NLD and chairman since
December 19, 1988. [Top]
KO Naing [aka] Paw Oo Htun (1962-)
student leader during the 8-8-88 uprising. Reestablished and became
chairman of the BA Ka Ta or All Burma Federations of Studentsí
Union. Began organizing antigovernment activities in 1985. Arrested
in March 1989, he is now serving a twenty-year sentence in solitary
confinement in Sittwe. In 1999, awarded the John Henfrey Freedom
Award of Canada. [Top]
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