Min Aung Hlaing


Min Aung Hlaing
Senior General Min Aung Hlaing 2017 (cropped) 1.jpg
Min Aung Hlaing in 2017
Chairman of the State Administration Council
Assumed office
2 February 2021
PresidentMyint Swe (acting)
DeputySoe Win
Preceded byAung San Suu Kyi (as State Counsellor)
Commander-in-Chief of Defence Services
Assumed office
30 March 2011
PresidentThein Sein
Htin Kyaw
Win Myint
Myint Swe (acting)
DeputySoe Win
State CounsellorAung San Suu Kyi
Preceded byThan Shwe
Personal details
Born (1956-07-03) 3 July 1956 (age 64)
Tavoy, Burma
(now Dawei, Myanmar)
NationalityBurmese
Spouse(s)Kyu Kyu Hla
ChildrenVarious, including:
Aung Pyae Sone
Khin Thiri Thet Mon
Alma materRangoon Arts and Sciences University (LL.B)
Defence Services Academy
AwardsMaha Thray Sithu
Honorary Malaysian Armed Forces Order for Valour (First Degree)
Gallant Commander of Malaysian Armed Forces
Knight Grand Cross First Class of the Most Exalted Order of the White Elephant of Thailand
Websitewww.seniorgeneralminaunghlaing.com.mm
Military service
Allegiance Myanmar
Branch/service Myanmar Army
Years of service1974–present
RankSenior General.gif Senior General
CommandsCommander-in-Chief of the Tatmadaw
Joint Chief of Staff
Chief of Bureau of Special Operations-2 (BSO-2)

Min Aung Hlaing (Burmese: မင်းအောင်လှိုင်; born 3 July 1956) is a Burmese army general who is the current military leader of Myanmar,[1] concurrently serving as Chairman of the State Administration Council and Commander-in-Chief of the Myanmar Armed Forces. He seized power after overthrowing the elected government led by Aung San Suu Kyi[2] in a coup d'état on 1 February 2021. He also imposed military rule and martial law, ending the previous civilian rule.[3][4]

He served as Joint Chief of Staff of the Ministry of Defence from 2010 to 2011. He assumed the post of Commander-in-Chief of Defence Services in 2011. He is also a member of the National Defence and Security Council (NDSC) chaired by the president of Myanmar.[5] He was promoted to four-star General in 2011 and five-star General in 2013.

Early life and education

Min Aung Hlaing was born on 3 July 1956 in Tavoy, Burma (now Dawei, Myanmar). His father, Thaung Hlaing, is a former civil engineer at the Ministry of Construction.[6]

Min Aung Hlaing passed his matriculation exam in 1972 at BEHS 1 Latha of Rangoon (now Yangon).[6][7] He attended and studied law at the Rangoon Arts and Science University from 1973 to 1974. He was admitted to the Defense Services Academy as part of the 19th Intake in 1974 on his third attempt, where he graduated.[8] According to classmates, Min Aung Hlaing was taciturn, and an unremarkable cadet.[9] He was reportedly shunned by classmates because of his reserved personality.[6]

Career

Following graduation, Min Aung Hlaing went on to serve in different command positions, rising slowly through the ranks.[9] Early in his career, military colleagues gave him a nickname referring to cat feces, "something deposited quietly but leaving a powerful stink."[10] As he rose through the ranks, Min Aung Hlaing earned a reputation as a hardliner.[6] His military work earned him the favour of Senior General Than Shwe.[11] Min Aung Hlaing is characterized as having a "big man" management style not conducive to collaboration or listening.[11]

In 2002, he was promoted to commander of the Triangle Region Command in Eastern Shan State and was a central figure in negotiations with two rebel groups, the United Wa State Army (UWSA) and the National Democratic Alliance Army (NDAA).[6] Min Aung Hlaing was reportedly close with former Thai Prime Minister Prem Tinsulanonda, considering Prem a father figure.[12][13]

Min Aung Hlaing supported the military crackdown of the Saffron Revolution in 2008.[6] He rose to prominence in 2009 after leading an offensive against the insurgent Myanmar Nationalities Democratic Alliance Army in Kokang.[14] In June 2010, Min Aung Hlaing replaced General Shwe Mann as Joint Chief of Staff of the Army, Navy, and Air Force.[6]

Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces

2011–2015: Union Solidarity and Development Party rule

In the lead-up to 2011, the military began embarking on a series of political reforms to transition Myanmar to a quasi-democracy. The ruling junta, the State Peace and Development Council, engineered its formal departure from power, after holding the 2010 Myanmar general election, which was won by the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), the military's proxy party. On 30 March 2011, outgoing head of state, Senior General Than Shwe, then the incumbent Commander-in-Chief of Myanmar's Armed Forces, appointed Min Aung Hlaing as his successor, ahead of more senior officers.[15][16] Min Aung Hlaing's appointment coincided with USDP's rise to power, during which he oversaw a series of military reforms, and supported efforts by the USDP-led government to strike peace deals with ethnic armed groups.[15]

In November 2011, according to The Irrawaddy News, it was "widely believed" that following Min Aung Hlaing's meetings with Chinese military officials that month and his leadership in creating a bilateral agreement on defense cooperation with the Chinese, he had also held talks with Chinese Vice-President Xi Jinping regarding cooperation from China with respect to the Kachin Conflict.[14]

On 27 March 2012, during a speech in Naypyidaw, Min Aung Hlaing defended the military's continued role in national politics.[14][17] On 3 April 2012, the Government of Myanmar announced that Min Aung Hlaing had been promoted to vice-senior general, the second highest rank in Myanmar's Armed Forces.[14] He was promoted to senior general in March 2013.

In 2014, as Min Aung Hlaing approached the age of 60, which is the mandatory age of retirement for military officers, the Armed Forces' Department of Defence Council issued a directive, enabling Min Aung Hlaing to extend his mandatory retirement age to 65, in 2021.[18]

In August 2015, the USDP fractured, and President Thein Sein purged the faction led by Shwe Mann, a former general and Speaker of the Pyithu Hluttaw.[15] Min Aung Hlaing oversaw a direct military intervention to oust Shwe Mann from power, indicating the military's desire to continue furthering its agenda through USDP.[19] Shwe Mann had advocated for legislation and constitutional amendments that would have decreased the military's influence, against the interests of the military and USDP.[19]

2016–2020: Transition to National League for Democracy rule

The 2015 Myanmar general election saw the National League for Democracy (NLD), led by Aung San Suu Kyi, win in a landslide. With the transition from an USDP to NLD-led government, Min Aung Hlaing shifted his priorities to recovering state power for the military establishment.[15] His intransigence and refusal to cooperate with the civilian-led government undermined progress toward Myanmar's peace process.[15] As the NLD assumed power, Min Aung Hlaing began intensifying an ongoing military crackdown on the Rohingya, beginning in October 2016.[20][21] At the Union Peace Conference - 21st Century Panglong in August 2020, he sharply warned the NLD against scapegoating the military for its role in the ongoing ethnic conflicts.[22]

Min Aung Hlaing also began to signal his interest in civilian politics.[15] He began assuming a more stateman-like persona, and became increasingly assertive about the military's role.[22][10] In the lead-up to the 2020 Myanmar general election, he worked with the USDP to position himself as the next President.[22] Throughout 2019, Min Aung Hlaing made several public appearances dubbed a "charm offensive," at several religious sites and charity functions,[23] raising speculation about his political ambitions.[24][18] To cultivate his public persona, he began two Facebook pages that commanded a combined following of 4.1 million followers.[25][26] In May 2020, Min Aung Hlaing reshuffled senior military ranks, promoting a new generation of officers loyal to Min Aung Hlaing, including Kyaw Swar Lin, who became the military's youngest lieutenant-general.[27]

2020–present: Military coup

In November 2020, Min Aung Hlaing made a series of public comments questioning the legitimacy of the upcoming 2020 election, in potential violation of the Civil Services Personnel Law.[28] On 5 November, the Tatmadaw declared that Min Aung Hlaing's rank is equivalent to Vice President of Myanmar.[29] After casting his ballot in the 2020 election, Min Aung Hlaing vowed to accept the election results.[30] The 2020 election saw NLD win in a larger landslide than in 2015, forestalling Min Aung Hlaing's political ambitions. In response, the military began intensifying allegations of electoral fraud and irregularities, submitting formal complaints to the Union Election Commission. On 27 January 2021, Min Aung Hlaing publicly remarked that he would not rule out a coup d'état and abolition of the Constitution, if allegations of voter fraud during last year’s election were not adequately addressed.[31] These comments sparked concern about another potential coup in the country.[32] The following day, the Union Election Commission issued a statement rejecting claims of electoral fraud, citing the lack of evidence submitted to substantiate these claims.[33] On 29 January, the military issued clarifying statements pledging to protect and abide by the Constitution and applicable laws.[34]

On 1 February, Min Aung Hlaing led the 2021 Myanmar coup d'état, one day before democratically-elected members of parliament were scheduled to be sworn in as members of the Assembly of the Union. The following day, he established the State Administration Council as the country's interim ruling body.[35][36]

Rohingya genocide

The UNHRC reported that Min Aung Hlaing's soldiers have been deliberately targeting civilians in Northern states of Myanmar and have been committing systemic discrimination and human rights violations against minority communities in Rakhine State.[37] In particular, he has been accused of ethnic cleansing against the Rohingya people.[38] These human rights violations could amount to genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes.[39]

As commander-in-chief of the Mynamar military he is accused of having carried out operations against the Rohingya with genocidal intent.[40]

Facebook banned Min Aung Hlaing from its platform along with 19 other top Burmese officials and organisations to prevent further heated ethnic and religious tensions in Myanmar. This action followed a UN investigation's report that certain military leaders in Myanmar be investigated and prosecuted for genocide over a crackdown on Rohingya Muslims.[41][42] Twitter later banned him on 16 May 2019.[43]

On 17 March 2019, Kyaw Zaw Oo, an Arakanese MP, published a bilingual open letter to Min Aung Hlaing about many violations of Tatmadaw in Rakhine State, inflicting on lives and property of the civilians, damaging some buildings of cultural heritage as well.[44][45]

In July 2019, the United States government banned him from travel to the United States.[46] In December 2020, it froze Min Aung Hlaing's American-based assets and criminalized financial transactions between him and anyone in the United States.[46][47]

Corruption

Min Aung Hlaing has courted enduring controversy for his family's extensive business assets and potential conflicts of interest. He is a major shareholder in the army-owned Myanmar Economic Holdings Limited (MEHL). During the 2010–11 fiscal year, he had owned 5,000 shares and received an annual dividend of $250,000.[48] He sits on MEHL's Patron Group, which runs the conglomerate.[49]

Min Aung Hlaing's son, Aung Pyae Sone, owns a number of companies, including Sky One Construction Company and Aung Myint Mo Min Insurance Company.[50] He also has a majority stake in Mytel, a national telecoms carrier.[50] In 2013, his Aung Pyae Sone won a no-bid government permit well below market rates, for a 30 year lease on land at the Yangon People's Park for a high-end restaurant and art gallery, following his father's promotion to Commander-in-Chief.[51] Aung Pyae Sone also runs A&M Mahar, which offers Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approvals and customs clearance services for drugs and medical devices.[52] Myanmar's customs department is led by Kyaw Htin, a former MEHL director.[52]

His daughter Khin Thiri Thet Mon founded a major film studio, 7th Sense Creation, in 2017.[53] That same year, his daughter-in-law, Myo Yadanar Htaik, founded another entertainment company, Stellar Seven Entertainment.[53] The American Embassy, Yangon came under media scrutiny in December 2020, for collaborating with 7th Sense Creation, because Min Aung Hlaing is technically subject to US economic sanctions.[54]

Personal life

Min Aung Hlaing is married to Kyu Kyu Hla, a retired lecturer.[55][56] He has several children, including son Aung Pyae Sone and daughter Khin Thiri Thet Mon.[57]

Promotions

  • Major General Tatmadaw.gif Major General – 2008/2009
  • Lieutenant General.gif Lieutenant General – Late 2009
  • Vice Senior General.gif General – Early 2011
  • Vice Senior General Tatmadaw (Final).gif Vice-Senior General – Early 2012
  • Senior General.gif Senior General – March 2013

Awards and decorations

  • Darjah Panglima Gagah Angkatan Tentera.png The Most Gallant Order of Military Service, Gallant Commander of the Malaysian Armed Forces (Darjah Panglima Gagah Angkatan Tentera), Honorary Malaysian Armed Forces Order for Valor (1st Degree), Malaysia[citation needed]
  • RUS For Strengthening Military Cooperation Medal ribbon 2017.svg Medal "For strengthening the military commonwealth" ( Ministry of Defense, Russia)[58]
  • Медаль ФСВТС России «За отличие» (лента).png Badge of Honor of FSMTC "For the Merits in the Field of Military-Technical Cooperation"[citation needed]
  • Order of the White Elephant - 1st Class (Thailand) ribbon.svg The Most Exalted Order of the White Elephant, Knight Grand Cross (1st Class), Thailand[59]
  • Order of the Crown of Thailand - 1st Class (Thailand) ribbon.svg The Most Noble Order of the Crown of Thailand, Knight Grand Cross (1st Class), Thailand[60]

Religious honors

On 7 October 2019, the Young Men's Buddhist Association (YMBA) awarded him the title of Mingaladhamma Zawtika Dhaza and the permanent patron of YMBA.[61][62] On 9 December 2020, YMBA awarded him the title of Thado Thiri Agga Maha Mingalar Zawtika.[63]

References

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  2. ^ "Myanmar coup: Aung San Suu Kyi detained as military seizes control". BBC News. 1 February 2021.
  3. ^ "အရေးပေါ်ကာလ ဆောင်ရွက်ပြီးစီးပါက ရွေးကောက်ပွဲ ပြန်လည်ကျင်းပ၍ အနိုင်ရပါတီအား နိုင်ငံတော်တာဝန်ကို လွှဲအပ်ပေးနိုင်ရေး ဆောင်ရွက်မည်ဖြစ်ကြောင်း တပ်မတော်ထုတ်ပြန်". 7 Day Daily (in Burmese). 1 February 2021.
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  6. ^ a b c d e f g "Vice-Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, Tatmadaw Commander-in-Chief". Alternative Asean Network. Archived from the original on 12 January 2018. Retrieved 27 August 2018.
  7. ^ "တပ်မတော်ကာကွယ်ရေးဦးစီးချုပ်သစ်နှင့် အမေရိကန် မြန်မာ တပ်မတော်နှစ်ရပ် ဆက်ဆံရေး – အပိုင်း (၁)". VOA News (in Burmese). 2 April 2011. Archived from the original on 5 March 2016.
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  35. ^ "ပြည်ထောင်စုသမ္မတမြန်မာနိုင်ငံတော် တပ်မတော်ကာကွယ်ရေးဦးစီးချုပ်ရုံး အမိန့်အမှတ်(၉/၂၀၂၁) ၁၃၈၂ ခုနှစ်၊ ပြာသိုလပြည့်ကျော် ၆ ရက် ၂၀၂၁ ခုနှစ်၊ ဖေဖော်ဝါရီလ ၂ ရက်". Tatmadaw Information Team (in Burmese). Archived from the original on 3 February 2021. Retrieved 2 February 2021.
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  43. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 30 June 2020. Retrieved 5 May 2020.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  44. ^ Open Letter to Senior General Min Aung Hlaing from U Kyaw Zaw Oo about damage to cultural heritage, fatalities and casualties incurred by intentional and indiscriminate attacks of Myanma Tatmadaw on non-military targets. Kyaw Zaw Oo. 2019. Archived from the original on 27 December 2020. Retrieved 27 December 2020.
  45. ^ သမိုင်းဝင် ယဉ်ကျေးမှုဆိုင်ရာအဆောက်အအုံများအပါအဝင် စစ်ဖက်ပစ်မှတ်မဟုတ်သည့်နေရာများသို့ တမင်သက်သက် ပစ်ခတ်ကြသဖြင့် သေဆုံးထိခိုက်ကြရသည့်ကိစ္စ အိတ်ဖွင့်ပေးစာ (in Burmese). Kyaw Zaw Oo. 2019. Archived from the original on 27 December 2020. Retrieved 27 December 2020.
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  55. ^ "တပ်မတော် ကာကွယ်ရေးဦးစီးချုပ် ယာဘက် လက်သူကြွယ် ခွဲစိတ်မှုအောင်မြင်". Lotaya (in Burmese). Retrieved 3 February 2021.
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  58. ^ "Military chief awarded Medal of the Ministry of Defence of Russia". Eleven Media Group Co., Ltd. Archived from the original on 30 June 2020. Retrieved 30 June 2020.
  59. ^ "Thailand decorates Myanmar's army chief amid Rohingya crisis". Reuters. 17 February 2018. Archived from the original on 1 June 2019. Retrieved 1 June 2019.
  60. ^ "Burmese Military Chief Receives Top Thai Honor". The Irrawaddy. 31 May 2013. Archived from the original on 31 May 2019. Retrieved 1 June 2019.
  61. ^ "ဗိုလ်ချုပ်မှူးကြီးမင်းအောင်လှိုင်ကို YMBA က ရာသက်ပန်နာယကကြီးဘွဲ့ ပေးအပ်". Myanmar NOW (in Burmese). 7 October 2019. Archived from the original on 1 February 2021. Retrieved 10 December 2020.
  62. ^ "တပ်ချုပ်ကို ဆုပေးသင့်ပေးထိုက်လို့ ဖော်ထုတ်ပြီးပေးတာပါလို့ YMBAအသင်းကရှင်း". BBC News (in Burmese). 10 October 2019. Archived from the original on 1 February 2021.
  63. ^ "YMBA က ဗိုလ်ချုပ်မှူးကြီးမင်းအောင်လှိုင်ကို သတိုးသီရိ အဂ္ဂမဟာမင်္ဂလဇောတိကဓဇ ဘွဲ့ချီးမြှင့်". DVB (in Burmese). 9 December 2020. Archived from the original on 1 February 2021. Retrieved 10 December 2020.
Political offices
Preceded by
Aung San Suu Kyi
as state counsellor
Chairman of the State Administration Council
2021–present
Incumbent

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