The Irrawaddy News Magazine [Covering Burma and Southeast Asia]

Troops Alerted for Unrest: Leaked Documents
By WAI MOE Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The office of the Commander in Chief (Army)—also known as the Ka Ka Kyi—alerted security forces to guard against potential unrest in the wake of African and Middle Eastern pro-democracy demonstrations.

Military documents leaked to The Irrawaddy also reveal that the regime believes the main opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) party was attempting to influence its troops.

The Ka Ka Kyi sent three separate orders to military commands across the country on April 5 which referred to top level Tatmadaw (armed forces) meetings in Naypyidaw on March 21, 28 and April 1.

During the March 21 meeting, the Chief of Staff (Army, Navy, Air Force) said that broadcasts of the “political unrest in Africa and the Middle East”—including TV stations and internet social media such as Facebook—as well as “powerful countries” were involved in forcing military intervention there.

Therefore the armed forces must be aware of the situation and ready to respond immediately with military action if something similar was to occur in Burma, he added.

According to the leaked documents, the Chief of Staff also said that security forces must deter the NLD and other opposition groups from contacting and organizing military personnel.

He also warned to prevent officials and other ranking soldiers from attempting to supplement their military salaries by contacting exiled persons and groups for additional benefits. 

During the meeting at the Ka Ka Kyi on March 28, the Chief of Staff (Army, Navy, Air Force) also warned that “the  activities of some political parties and the disbanded NLD have been increased,” and so troops must seek out information in advance and be ready for a crackdown if something happens.

The Ka Ka Kyi orders included a warning against officers and other ranks from going out at night, saying that soldiers were getting into accidents and even dying while outside their bases after hours.

The military documents did not mention the names of the Commander in Chief of Armed Forces and the Chief of Staff (Army, Navy, Air Force) but just their titles. But Min Aung Hlaing was publicly confirmed as the Commander in Chief—promoted from Chief of Staff— on March 30 during the cabinet swearing ceremony at the Parliament along with his deputy Lt-Gen Soe Win.

Despite remaining the most powerful man in Burma, Snr-Gen Than Shwe’s precise role is  kept secret in Naypyidaw. But military sources confirm that Than Shwe remains the principle decision maker on key military and government issues, and that general staff officers such as Maj-Gen Nay Win, Brig-Gen Soe Shine and Col Myint Kyi still assist his command.

For the first time since the new regime led by President Thein Sein was sworn in on March 30, Vice Snr-Gen Maung Aye—No.2 top ranking official of the military junta—represented the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), at Thingyan festival in Mandalay.

Although Maung Aye’s appearance at the opening ceremony of the Mandalay mayor’s water pandal on April 13 was not reported in the state run newspapers, he attended the event as a VIP.

Witnesses in Mandalay said that all present military officers—including Mandalay Chief Minister ex-Lt-Gen Ye Myint and Mayor Phone Zaw Han—treated him like a current official even though his position of deputy Commander in Chief of Armed Forces was transferred to Lt-Gen Soe Win on March 30.

“He seemed to still have power because all the generals and ministers treated him with great respect,” said an editor with a local journal who spoke on condition of anonymity. Witnesses also said current officials were kept waiting until Maung Aye arrived for the opening ceremony.

While the Burmese state media reported on Thingyan festival generally, it highlighted events in Kyaukse—Than Shwe’s home town within Mandalay Division.

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