Former Myanmar Dictator Than Shwe and Retired Generals Resurface
By The Irrawaddy 15 March 2022
A group of retired generals led by former Myanmar dictator Senior General Than Shwe offered meals to senior Buddhist monks on March 13, junta-controlled newspapers reported. It was the first official news of the 89-year-old Than Shwe and his cohorts and the first public donations made collectively by them since last year’s coup.
Joining Than Shwe were his former deputy Vice Senior General Maung Aye, former President and General Thein Sein and former Lieutenant General Tin Aye, all of whom came to prominence after Than Shwe purged former spy chief Khin Nyunt in 2004.
The retired generals did not attend the meal-offering in person, according to the report in junta media, but made cash contributions for meals for monks attending a meeting of the 47-member State Sangha Maha Nayaka Committee, the highest Buddhist authority in Myanmar.
Than Shwe, Maung Aye, Thein Sein and former Union Election Commission (UEC) chairman Tin Aye are all neighbors in an affluent neighborhood of Pobbathiri Township in the Myanmar capital Naypyitaw. The neighborhood has been dubbed the “Row of Six Mansions” because six retired generals live there.
Also making donations to the monks were family members of the late General Soe Win. Soe Win was appointed Prime Minister by Than Shwe in 2004, a position he held for three years before dying of leukemia in Yangon in October 2007.
Soe Win was widely believed to have orchestrated the 2003 Depayin [also known as Tabayin] Massacre, in which junta-backed thugs attempted to kill National League for Democracy leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and her supporters in Sagaing Region’s Debayin,
Others connected to the former military regime who offered meals were the families of retired Major General Tin Ngwe, Lieutenant General Khin Maung Than, Lieutenant General Aung Dwe, Lieutenant General Maung Bo and Lieutenant General Ye Myint.
The retired generals were seeking merit even as the current junta led by Senior General Min Aung Hlaing continues its devastating air raids on villages, the torching and looting of houses and the killing and raping of civilians. At the same time, surging food and fuel prices, daily power blackouts and water shortages are also taking a heavy toll on Myanmar citizens.
Than Shwe has appeared in regime-controlled media twice since Snr-Gen. Min Aung Hlaing’s coup. His first appearance came in November last year, when he also offered meals to monks of the State Sangha Maha Nayaka Committee.
This month’s meal donations was also the first official news of the 85-year-old Maung Aye for years. He has not been seen in public since 2011, and nothing is known about him except that he has suffered a stroke and is half-paralyzed. However, when he was informed by Snr-Gen. Min Aung Hlaing about his planned coup, Maung Aye reportedly replied that he was late and should have seized power earlier.
Lieutenant General Moe Myint Tun, who is the henchman to the junta boss, is the former personal staff officer to Maung Aye. Lt-Gen. Moe Myint Tun is currently the vice chairman of the Myanmar Investment Commission and a member of the regime’s governing body, the State Administration Council (SAC).
Thein Sein and Tin Aye are former classmates from the ninth intake of the Defense Services Academy. Both men are former proteges of Than Shwe. Between 2011 and 2015, they brought the 2008 military-drafted constitution into play, which was designed by Than Shwe to ensure that the Myanmar military retained its grip on power.
Some ministers from Thein Sein’s government have since been appointed to the SAC.
Thein Sein and Snr-Gen. Min Aung Hlaing’s son Aung Pyae Sone both donated five million kyats to relatives of slain Union and Solidarity Development Party members widely alleged to have been military informants.
Tin Aye, who chaired the military-owned Myanmar Economic Holdings under the previous military regime and the UEC under Thein Sein, continues to attend military-related events. He was present when the junta boss unveiled statues of military chiefs at the military’s museum in Naypyitaw. He also attended an event paying tribute to fallen soldiers.
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