Myanmar’s junta leader Min Aung Hlaing, whose regime has killed more than 1,700 civilians, has awarded himself two honorary titles which are traditionally given to those who make huge contributions to the country.
On Sunday, to mark Myanmar’s new year, the regime announced its honorary titles and medals for outstanding work for the country during the 75 years since independence.
Min Aung Hlaing gave himself the two highest titles — Sadoe Thiri Thudhamma and Sadoe Maha Thray Sithu.
The list was dominated by dictatorial figures.
Ne Win, the first military dictator who led the 1962 coup, was posthumously named Agga Maha Thray Sithu, the second-highest honor. Former military dictator Than Shwe, who picked Min Aung Hlaing as his successor as commander-in-chief, was given the same title.
Former president and general U Thein Sein was not mentioned as he already had the Agga Maha Thray Sithu.
Former brigadier general Kyaw Zaw, a central figure in the independence struggle and establishment of the armed forces, has previously only received a lower Thray Sithu honor. He was one of the 30 comrades who led the struggle against British colonial rule and the Kuomintang invasion.
Former prime ministers U Nu and U San Yu and the leader of the 1988 military reshuffle Senior General Saw Maung were awarded the Agga Maha Thiri Thudhamma and Agga Maha Thray Sithu on Sunday.
However, former military intelligence general Khin Nyunt, who was purged by Than Shwe in 2004 and now suffers from Alzheimer’s, was overlooked.
Former lieutenant generals Aye Ko and Tun Yi, who were Ne Win’s deputies, were both awarded the Maha Thray Sithu. Former vice-senior general Maung Aye, Than Shwe’s deputy, received no award on Sunday.
The current junta’s acting president, U Myint Swe, was awarded the Sadoe Thiri Thudhamma.
Late influential Buddhist monk Myaing Gyi Ngu Sayadaw U Thuzana, Karen National Union chairman Saw Mutu Say Poe, Restoration Council of Shan State leader Yawd Serk and some other leaders of ethnic armed groups were given Wunna Kyawhtin medals for their outstanding performances, which is normally given to leading artistic and literary figures.
U Hla Maung Shwe, a former adviser to the Myanmar Peace Center, was given the Wunna Kyawhtin medal. Many artists, including some from the colonial era, were given posthumous medals.
The regime also awarded honorary titles on March 27, Armed Forces Day, which marks the anniversary of armed resistance against Japanese occupation.
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