In Naypyidaw, Suu Kyi Attends Armed Forces Day

Aung San Suu Kyi sits with ethnic minority leaders and members of the military at the Three Kings Monument in Naypyidaw on Wednesday. (Photo: JPaing / The Irrawaddy)

Aung San Suu Kyi sits with ethnic minority leaders and members of the military at the Three Kings Monument in Naypyidaw on Wednesday. (Photo: JPaing / The Irrawaddy)

NAYPYIDAW — In a North Korean-style display of military might on Wednesday, Burma paraded its heavy weaponry on the annual Armed Forces Day, which was attended for the first time by Aung San Suu Kyi.

National League for Democracy chairwoman Suu Kyi, the daughter of the wartime hero of Burma’s army, sat in the front row.

Artillery, tanks and jets were accompanied by more than 6,000 troops at the Three Kings Monument in the garrison capital of Naypyidaw.

Min Aung Hlaing, the commander-in-chief of Burma’s armed forces, said in a speech that the country’s military needs to be strong to protect the 2008 Constitution, which preserves the former ruling generals’ power in the country.

In the Constitution “it is clearly stated that our Tatmadaw [military]’s main job is to … protect the Constitution,” he said.

The army chief struck a different tone than Shwe Mann—a former top general, currently the lower house speaker—who yesterday said he wanted to amend the clause in the Constitution which reserves 25 percent of parliamentary seats for the military, effectively giving them a veto on crucial votes.

“The armed forces must play a leading role in national politics as the nation transitions into a modern democratic state,” Min Aung Hlaing said.

Armed Forces Day commemorates the day Aung San, Suu Kyi’s father took up arms against the Japanese fascists on March 27, 1945.

Although met with pomp and ceremony within the confines of government life, ordinary people care little for a day of celebration for an institution blamed for some of the worst human rights abuses in Southeast Asia’s modern history.

The atmosphere in the capital and in Rangoon was subdued, no national flags were hoisted in the streets and no ordinary Burmese joined in the day’s events.

Aung San Suu Kyi was accompanied to the event by the leaders of ethnic minority political parties.

Min Aung Hlaing recounted Burma’s history with colonialism—the three British conquests and the arrival of the Japanese Empire—as a reason for Burma to maintain a strong army against outside aggressors.

The general also called on the army to show respect to ethnic groups whose various armed groups have waged decades-old armed struggles against the government.

He said the 1988 uprising, in which Burmese government troops killed at least 3,000 unarmed protestors, was “anarchy,” and without the army there would have been chaos.

It is well documented that military units operating in ethnic areas have routinely used torture, arbitrary execution and detention, rape and forced relocation as weapons of war—all illegal under international law. Some human rights groups have said the military’s actions in ethnic areas amount to a form of genocide.

But despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary, Min Aung Hlaing said the army has always abided by international human rights legislation, especially the Geneva Conventions of 1949, which are the laws governing humanitarian issues in war.

“In the history of our army, genocide has never been carried out because of hatred of a national race,” he said. “We have taken appropriate measures against those who take up arms against the government.”

9 Responses to In Naypyidaw, Suu Kyi Attends Armed Forces Day

  1. If his satement ” Army has always abided by international human right legislation…… ” is true, we won’t have any refugees IDP and child soldiers.

  2. ASSK being a good politician, participated in the armed forced day celebration. Knowing that Tamadaw plays a part in protecting constitution, she is now proactively seeking helps from the military. Look at the early days of Indonesia, they had also used their military might to achieve today’s modern Indonesia society. Military and civilian rules go hand in hand.

  3. This is the right thing to do for Daw aung sun suu kyi since her farher was a founder of the military and safe the country from colony and japanese rule.But i saw its was very awkward for her to see rhe parade with no hitech involved.Its OK as just a parade for Burma but need to upgrade as required as modern .By the way, this is just the illusion thar appear At the moment all these will be disapperal when everything become wright.But what I wanted to speak to all Burmese is We need to be very careful for the reconstrustion of the Burma It’s very frigile.So each of every Burmese need to understand and takepart in the transforming priod.Burma and every Other Countrys need Law,Desciplined and Ordre .That is .Every one need Law regardless of who you are and came from where . Forget it and start to walk to the jiurney that what you desired .Treated as your one and safe for lost of everything.GOOD LUCK BIRMA.

  4. George Than Setkyar Heine

    In the Constitution “it is clearly stated that our Tatmadaw [military]’s main job is to … protect the Constitution,” he said.
    That’s HIS JOB since day one given by Than Shwe on the insistence of the communists in Beijing after FORCEFULLY REPLACING General Thura Myint Aung (commander-in-chief of the Burma Army) WHO WENT MISSING together with HIS FAMILY since then until today.
    The worst part of Than Shwe drawn constitution is the FACT there is NO ROOM for PEOPLE, much less DEMOCRACY, FREEDOM and HUMAN RIGHTS specifically for the ETHNIC PEOPLE other than the NATIONAL DEFENSE and SECURITY COUNCIL remaining above the president, parliament and of course the LAW as well no doubt.
    “The armed forces must play a leading role in national politics as the nation transitions into a modern democratic state,” Min Aung Hlaing said.
    Hey, this guy DOESN’T REALLY KNOW WHAT HE IS SAYING much less DOING as well!
    In all sense and sincerity IT IS THE PREROGATIVE of the ARMED FORCES of a NATION to DEFEND the SOVEREIGNTY, TERRITORIAL INTEGRITY of the COUNTRY and specifically PROTECT the CITIZENRY as well from THREATS both FOREIGN and DOMESTIC of course.
    However, Min Aung Hlaing led Burma Army PROTECTING the CONSTITUTION is SIMPLY A CASE of DEFENDING/PROTECTING Than Shwe, his family, the CRONIES and their ILL-GOTTEN WEALTH not to mention Chinese communists’ INTERESTS in Burma only at this time and juncture as evidenced today.
    Today, FAILURE (on purpose and intent of course) on the part of Thein Sein/Min Aung Hlaing led lot at Naypyidaw to TAKE EFFECTIVE MEASURES on the RECENT COMMUNAL STRIFE in BURMA could be DEEMED as DERELICTION of DUTY and hence CALLED for INVESTIGATION and subsequently JAILED/NAILED for that MATTER no less.
    Of course Suu Kyi’s PRESENCE at the Pyongyang style SHOW of MUSCLE at the garrison town of Naypyidaw on this day (March 27, 2013) is NOTHING MORE THAN SYMBOLIC if not a PLOY/PRETENSE to HINT at WHAT IS IN STORE for HER in case SHE HAS ANY IDEA of OPPOSING or CONTRAVENING the CURRENT TREND and TRACK on which Thein Sein lot is GOING, DUPING and HOODWINKING the people of Burma and the international community to FATTEN their WALLETS via foreign investments and in turn STRENGTHEN their GRIP on POWER as EMBEDDED in their CONSTITUTION and WEALTH via STEALING and ROBBING the NATURAL RESOURCES of the COUNTRY in COHORTS with the CHINESE COMMUNISTS next door until ETERNITY while DRIVING the PEOPLE of BURMA under their HEELS and in turn as the CHINESE COMMUNISTS’ SLAVES as well, WORKING and WASTING their LIVES for a PITTANCE in place of INDEPENDENT PEOPLE WHO OWNED THE LAND and the COUNTRY’S NATURAL RESOURCES as well, since the dawn of days until today.

  5. Min Aung Hlaing is talking about what he does not really understand. He better says that military is to serve the nation according to president’s order. Min Aung Hlaing must be under the leadership of Defense Minister and Defense Minister must be under leadership of the President. Min Aung Hlaing must yield a lot of power to the right persons who are Defense Minister and the President.

  6. Min Aung Hlaing has troops under his command.
    Shwe Mann has none, nor Khin Nyunt even before he got ousted.

    Don’t they say political power comes from the barrel of a gun?
    Witness how ASSK is beholden to those with all the guns now more than ever.

  7. Its not the military’s job to protect the Constitution, its the military’s job to defend the country and obey the Constitution. However, given that the Constitution was written by the military and approved through referendum marred by cheating, it maybe necessary to change the Constituion so that its defense is more defensible.

  8. Min Aung Hlaing talked about Geneva Convention. Geneva Convention prohibits the warring parties from sexual violence against women in the conflict areas and from attacks against the civilians in the conflict areas. But hundreds of ethnic mothers, wives, sisters, and daughters have been raped apart from the fact that countless ethnic civilians were killed. All people who closely monitor the events in Burma know this history of sufferings.

    Min Aung Hlaing will acknowledge the presence of the heinous crime against humanity in Burma only if and when the Burma soldiers murder after rape his own mother, wife, and daughters at his own home in Naypyidaw.

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