State Peace and Development Council

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State Peace and Development Council
နိုင်ငံတော် အေးချမ်းသာယာရေး နှင့် ဖွံ့ဖြိုးရေး ကောင်စီ
Tatmadaw-emblem.jpg
Emblem of the Myanmar Armed Forces (Tatmadaw)
Abbreviation SPDC
Predecessor State Law and Order Restoration Council
Successor Elected government
Formation 18 September 1988
Extinction 30 March 2011
Type Military junta
Headquarters Yangon
Location
Chairman Than Shwe
Vice Chairman Maung Aye
Affiliations Union Solidarity and Development Party
State seal of Myanmar.svg
This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
Burma

The State Peace and Development Council (Burmese: နိုင်ငံတော် အေးချမ်းသာယာရေး နှင့် ဖွံ့ဖြိုးရေး ကောင်စီ [nàɪɴŋàɴdɔ̀ ʔédʑáɴθàjajé n̥ḭɴ pʰʊ̰ɴbjó jé kaʊ̀ɴsì]; abbreviated to SPDC or နအဖ, [na̰ʔa̰pʰa̰]) was the official name of the military regime of Burma (also known as Myanmar), which seized power in 1988. On 30 March 2011, Senior General Than Shwe signed a decree that officially dissolved the Council.[1]

From 1988 to 1997, the SPDC was known as State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC), which had replaced the role of Burma Socialist Programme Party (BSPP).[2] In 1997, SLORC was abolished and reconstituted as the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC). The powerful regional military commanders, who were members of SLORC, were promoted to new positions and transferred to the capital of Rangoon (now Yangon). The new regional military commanders were not included in the membership of the SPDC.

The SPDC consisted of eleven senior military officers. The members of the junta[3] wielded a great deal more power than the cabinet ministers, who are more junior military officers, or civilians. (The exception is the Defence Ministry portfolio, which was in the hands of junta leader Than Shwe himself.)

Although the regime retreated from the totalitarian Burmese Way to Socialism of BSPP when it took power in 1988, the regime was widely accused of human rights abuses. It rejected the 1990 election results and kept Aung San Suu Kyi under house arrest until her release on 13 November 2010.[4] The council was officially dissolved on 30 March 2011, with the inauguration of the newly elected government, led by its former member and Prime Minister, President Thein Sein.[5]

History[edit]

SPDC members greet Thai PM Abhisit Vejjajiva in an October 2010 visit to Naypyidaw.
SPDC members with Thai delegation in an October 2010 visit to Naypyidaw.

SLORC was formed when the Burmese Armed Forces, commanded by General Saw Maung (later self-promoted to 'Senior General' Saw Maung, died July 1997), seized power on 18 September 1988 crushing the 'Four Eights Uprising'. On the day it seized power SLORC issued Order No.1/1988 stating that the Armed Forces had taken over power and announced the formation of the SLORC. With Order No. 2/1988, the SLORC abolished all 'Organs of State Power' that were formed under the 1974 Burmese constitution. The Pyithu Hluttaw (the legislature under the 1974 Constitution), the Council of Ministers (the Cabinet), the Council of People's Justices (the Judiciary), the Council of People's Attorneys (the 'Attorney-General Office'), the Council of People's Inspectors (the 'Auditor-General Office'), as well as the State/Region, Township, Ward/Village People's Councils were abolished.

The SLORC also stated that the services of the Deputy Ministers in the previous Burma Socialist Programme Party (BSPP) government which it replaced were also terminated. (Under the 1974 Burmese Constitution the 'Council of Ministers' acted as a Cabinet but since the Deputy Ministers were not considered to be formally part of the Council of Ministers, the SLORC made sure that the Deputy Minister's – together with the Ministers' – services in the previous BSPP government from whom it had taken over power were also terminated.) The Orders that SLORC issued on the day of its takeover can be seen in the 19 September 1988 issue of The Working People's Daily. The first Chairman of SLORC was General Saw Maung, later Senior General, who was also the Prime Minister. He was removed as both Chairman of SLORC and Prime Minister on 23 April 1992 when General Than Shwe, later Senior General, took over both posts from him.

On 15 November 1997, SLORC was abolished and reconstituted as the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC). Most but not all members of the abolished SLORC were in the SPDC military regime.

Chairmen[edit]

Senior General Saw Maung, Chairman from 1988 to 1992
Senior General Than Shwe, Chairman from 1992 to 2011
  • Senior General Saw Maung (18 September 1988 – 23 April 1992)
  • Senior General Than Shwe (23 April 1992 – 30 March 2011)

Vice Chairmen[edit]

Vice-Senior General Maung Aye, Deputy Chairman from 1993 to 2011
  • General Than Shwe (18 September 1988 – 23 April 1992)
  • Vice-Senior General Maung Aye (July 1993 – 30 March 2011)

Former members[edit]

Ordered by protocol:

Human rights abuses[edit]

Western non-governmental Organizations, such as the Burma Campaign UK, the US Campaign for Burma, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have made a variety of serious accusations against the SPDC. Reports by these organizations as well as the United Nations and the Karen Human Rights Group alleged gross human rights abuses that took place in Burma under their regime, including:

  • Murder and arbitrary executions
  • Torture and rape
  • Recruitment of child soldiers
  • Forced relocations
  • Forced labor
  • Political imprisonment

Murder[edit]

One of the worst atrocities in Burma took place during the uprising of August 1988, when millions of Burmese marched throughout the country calling for an end to military rule. Soldiers shot hundreds of protesters and killed an estimated 3,000 people in the following weeks. During the August and September demonstrations of 2007, at least 184 protesters were shot and killed and many were tortured. Under the SPDC, the Burmese army engaged in military offensives against ethnic minority populations, committing acts that violated international humanitarian law.[7]

Recruitment of child soldiers[edit]

It has been alleged that the SPDC forcibly recruited children – some as young as 10 – to serve in its army, the Tatmadaw. It is difficult to estimate the number of child soldiers currently serving in the Burmese army, but there are thousands, according to Human Rights Watch[1] [2] [3] the Child Soldiers Global Report 2008 [4] and Amnesty International.[citation needed]

The UN Secretary-General named the SPDC in four consecutive reports for violating international standards prohibiting the recruitment and use of child soldiers.
Children and Armed Conflict, Report of the Secretary-General, 26 October 2006 UN Doc. A/61/529 S2006/826. [5]
Report of the Secretary-General on children and armed conflict in Myanmar to the Security Council, 16 November 2007, UN Doc. S/2007/666.[6]
Report of the Secretary-General on Children and armed conflict to the UN Security Council, 21 December 2007, UN Doc. A/62/609-S/2007/757. [7]
Report of the Secretary-General on children and armed conflict in Myanmar 1 June 2009 UN Doc. S/2009/278 [8]

Forced relocations[edit]

Human Rights Watch reported [9] that since Cyclone Nargis in May 2008, the Burmese authorities expelled hundreds, if not thousands, of displaced persons from schools, monasteries, and public buildings, and encouraged them to return to their destroyed villages in the Irrawaddy Delta. The authorities emptied some public buildings and schools to use as polling stations for the 24 May referendum on a new constitution, despite pleas from United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to postpone the referendum and focus their resources on humanitarian relief. The SPDC was alleged to have evicted people from dozens of government-operated tented relief camps in the vicinity of the former capital Yangon, ordering the residents to return to their homes, regardless of the conditions they face.

The forced evictions were part of government efforts to demonstrate that the emergency relief period was over and that the affected population were capable of rebuilding their lives without foreign aid. People who were forced from their homes by Cyclone Nargis are considered to be internally displaced persons under international law. Under the UN Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement, the Burmese government was urged to ensure the right of “internally displaced persons to return voluntarily, in safety and with dignity, to their homes or places of habitual residence, or to resettle voluntarily in another part of the country.”

Forced labor[edit]

According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), despite the new quasi-civilian government taking power in Burma, forced labour continues to be widespread in Burma. It is imposed mainly by the military, for 'portering' (that is, carrying of provisions to remote bases, or on military operations), road construction, camp construction and repair, and for a range of other tasks. In March 1997, the European Union withdrew Burma's trade privileges because of the prevalence of forced labor and other abuses. The same year, the ILO established a Commission of Inquiry to look into allegations of forced labour, coming up with a damning report the following year.

In November 2006, the International Labour Organization (ILO) announced it was to seek at the International Criminal Court[8] "to prosecute members of the ruling Myanmar junta for crimes against humanity" over the allegations of forced labour of its citizens by the military. According to the ILO, an estimated 800,000 people are subject to forced labour in Burma.[9]

Political imprisonment[edit]

Even before the large-scale demonstrations began in August 2007, the authorities arrested many well-known opponents of the government on political grounds, several of whom had only been released from prison several months earlier. Before the 25–29 September crackdown, more arrests of members of the opposition party National League for Democracy (NLD) took place, which critics say was a pre-emptive measure before the crackdown.

Mass round-ups occurred during the crackdown itself, and the authorities continued to arrest protesters and supporters throughout 2007. Between 3,000 and 4,000 political prisoners were detained, including children and pregnant women, 700 of whom were believed still in detention at year’s end. At least 20 were charged and sentenced under anti-terrorism legislation in proceedings which did not meet international fair trial standards. Detainees and defendants were denied the right to legal counsel.[10]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Shwe Yinn Mar Oo; Soe Than Lynn (4 April 2011). "Mission accomplished as SPDC ‘dissolved’". Myanmar Times. Retrieved 21 August 2011. 
  2. ^ David I. Steinberg, David L. Steinberg. Burma. 
  3. ^ Leibenluft, Jacob (2 June 2008). "Who's in the Junta? The mysterious generals who run Burma". Slate. 
  4. ^ "Myanmar's Aung San Suu Kyi released". Al Jazeera News in English. 13 November 2010. 
  5. ^ Moe, Wai (30 March 2011). "Than Shwe Officially Dissolves Junta". The Irrawaddy. Retrieved 30 March 2011. 
  6. ^ "Myanmar: Junta Member Resigns From Parliament". New York Times. 16 February 2011. 
  7. ^ Elaine Pearson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch (6 August 2008). "Burma: No Rights Reform 20 Years After Massacre | Human Rights Watch". Hrw.org. Retrieved 13 October 2009. 
  8. ^ Human Rights in Myanmar.
  9. ^ ILO cracks the whip at Yangon.
  10. ^ "Amnesty International Report 2009 | Working to Protect Human Rights". Thereport.amnesty.org. 9 October 2009. Retrieved 13 October 2009. [dead link]

External links[edit]