Burma. According to
Countryaah official website, the military junta continued to oppose the
opposition. Many local branches of the National Democratic
League (National League for Democracy, NLD) were disbanded,
and thousands of members left the party following pressure
and intimidation. Several hundred were said to have been
arrested. The NLD, led by Aung San Suu Kyi, sued several
Junta members before the trial for illegal harassment, but
lost as expected in the Supreme Court.
A UN report criticized the functioning of the Burmese
judiciary as the regime's political tool. The UN and Amnesty
International also condemned the continued use of forced
labor and abuse of ethnic minorities, especially in the
states of Karen and Shan.
The International Red Cross Committee (ICRC) was
authorized in May to visit the country's prisons. Aung San
Suu Kyi claimed that several institutions were secretly
withheld from the ICRC and that hundreds of political
prisoners were removed from Insein Prison in Rangoon prior
to the delegation's arrival.
An EU delegation visited Burma in an attempt to
contribute to a dialogue between the junta, the opposition
and the ethnic minorities. The EU and the US also tried to
get the Southeast Asian organization ASEAN to work for a
political dialogue within Burma, but ASEAN defended itself
against such "interference". In October, the EU extended its
sanctions against Burma, including visa ban for official
representatives and arms embargo.
The situation in the home country in September forced
Burmese students in Bangkok to occupy their embassy for a
day. No one was injured, but the occupation was condemned by
the organized opposition.
Aung San Suu Kyi's husband Michael Aris passed away in
the UK in March. He was refused a visa to be able to meet
his wife one last time, and she declined the offer to visit
him as she feared not to return if she left the country.
An economic crisis in 1988 became a trigger for a
widespread public revolt against the military regime, which
had existed since 1962. After bloody clashes between the
military and protesters, Ne Win resigned as party leader and
left the reins to Security Chief Sein Win. Subsequent
student-led demonstrations were brutally beaten, and
thousands are believed to have been killed.
Following popular pressure, Sein Win was deposed by a
military coup on September 18, 1988. The military regime was
reorganized and a junta called the State Council for the
Restoration of Law and Order (SLORC) took charge. Junta
leader Saw Maung became head of state and government. The
junta admitted to the opposition, which formed political
parties and engaged in limited political activity.
Leading opposition formed the National Democracy League (NLD)
with Aung San Suu Kyi, daughter of freedom hero Aung San, as
secretary general. In July 1989, she was arrested and
subsequently held under house arrest. In 1989, the junta
decided that the official name of the country should be
changed from Burma to Myanmar.
In May 1990 elections were held for a national assembly.
This gave the NLD an overwhelming victory with 392 of 485
seats, despite the junta's restrictions. The military
refused to let go of power and many of the NLD's elected
officials were arrested or exiled. The generals declared
that SLORC would sit in power until a new constitution was
drafted. General Saw Maung, who had led the coup and the
bloody military actions in 1988, resigned in 1992 as a junta
chief. The successor Than Shwe was considered more moderate
and tried to break the country's isolation from the outside
world. The head of the security service, General Khin Nyunt,
was widely regarded as the military man's strong man.
Throughout the 1990s, the junta continued to govern the
country by decree. From 1997 until the dissolution in 2011,
the military government went by the name of the State Peace
and Development Council (SPDC). The power play was largely
about the work on a new constitution. The Constitution was
intended to secure a strong position for the military,
although the transition to a civilian government was a
In 1991, Aung San Suu Kyi was awarded the Nobel Peace
Prize for his non-violent struggle against the military
regime. After six years of severe isolation, she was
released from house arrest in July 1995. She was released
without conditions, but the generals still tied her freedom
of movement. She had a regular dialogue with her followers
in the form of crowds every weekend, but these were halted
in 1996 and freedom of movement curtailed.
In 2000 she was again placed under house arrest, but
after 20 months she was released in May 2002. An occasional
dialogue with the junta had started with Khin Nyunt as
contact person, but in April 2003 Aung San Suu Kyi
criticized the junta for want of seriousness deliberations.
A month later, after a bloody battle between junta and NLD
supporters, she was placed under house arrest for the third
time, where she was released on November 13, 2010.
Khin Nyunt was named prime minister in 2003 and presented
a "Roadmap to Discipline-Thriving Democracy" in seven points
in August. In 2004, he called together a new constitutional
assembly of 1076 members. The process was boycotted by NDL.
Prime Minister Khin Nyunt was arrested in 2004 after years
of factional struggles. In August 2005, he was sentenced to
44 years in prison. His two sons and some 30 close
associates received even harsher penalties. Khin Nyunt had
been ranked number three in the junta since 1988, and
considered by many to be the most powerful with his broad
contact network and background as head of the intelligence
Junta commander Than Shwe took the title of "senior
general", and during the period 1992–2011 held the position
of head of state and defense chief. There were occasional
rumors of controversy between Than Shwe and the second in
the junta, Army Chief Maung Aye. General Soe Win, who
assumed the post of prime minister after Khin Nyunt, was one
of the army chief's supporters.