THAN SHWE – The Burmese dictator

Megalomaniac, superstitious and fascist, General Than Shwe has all the trappings of the perfect tyrant, except the charisma. After manipulated elections, the leader of the Burmese junta has once again managed to consolidate his power in a democracy of cardboard

thanshweThe junta leader Than Shwe (photo AFP) is the winner of the Burmese elections last Sunday, the first organized in 20 years. No one doubted, not even the Burmese. The National League for Democracy (NLD) of the Nobel Peace, Aung San Suu Kyi still under house arrest, had also boycotted the elections. The Solidarity Party and the development of the Union (USDP) following the ideas of the Generalissimo to the letter, announced his victory before the first results. The two opposition parties in contention have already conceded defeat. “We have taken the lead early but the USDP then presented the so-called advance polls and this has completely changed the results, so we lost” lamented Khin Maung Swe, head of the NDF, the first opposition party.

Ruthless dictator
Placed in 1992 at the head of Myanmar (Burma’s official name), 30 years after the military took power, Than Shwe is pleased to assert its sovereignty – even fraud – after taking a beating election in 1990, when Aung San Suu Kyi and her supporters had won more than 80% of places of assembly that has never served. General Than Shwe has used every possible means to paralyze the policy of the daughter of General in the Nationalist Ang San besieged house. Do not pronounce her name in his presence, that would put him in a rage. Do not talk of human rights, he would pretend ignorance. Mastering the art of internal purges, Than Shwe did not hesitate in 2007 to violently suppress – 31 dead, 74 missing – the saffron revolt, conducted by the Buddhist monks. Ethnic minorities, including Karen, are the costs of this fascist and xenophobic ideology. The assessment of Cyclone Nargis 138,000 dead or missing – could have been less tragic if the doors of the country had been opened earlier to international humanitarian aid, but the tyrant was too busy to read his astrologers.

Monarch without charisma
Regardless of the sanctions and other diatribes of the international community, the Generalissimo is proud of its “thriving democracy and disciplined.”. Indeed, nothing predisposed the young postal worker, returned to 20 years in the army, to become the supreme leader dreaded and feared he is today. “The secret of the success of Than Shwe is his lack of charisma, insight and talent, he was so removed, so insignificant, so obedient that he was not perceived as a threat by his superiors. They rewarded him by giving him medals., “says Benedict Rogers, author of the only biography * on the dictator. Paunchy General, considered slow and silent, turned into a clever manipulator, moved up in the ranks of the Tatmadaw, the Burmese army. He now reigns unchallenged over the 50 million Burmese. In the height of his megalomania, he has built in great secrecy a new capital, Naypyidaw (home of the kings in Burmese), where with his white elephant, his eight children and his air missiles, he is only called “Bu Daw “(title reserved for monarchs). His daughter, Thandar, in 2006, was entitled to a marriage worthy of that of a princess. Cost of the event: $ 50 million. The gifts offered to the young couple, three times the health budget.
The reign of Than Shwe shouldn’t however be very long and it is with reluctance that he will step down. At 77-year-old, he is said to have cancer of the pancreas and even episodes of temporary insanity. Whether one looks at his medical history or politics, the situation is the same: the madness has lasted long enough.

Published in

* Than Shwe, Burma’s Unmasking Tyrant. Silkworm Books.