- Title: FILE: The last sixty years of Myanmar's history
- Date: 28th September 2007
- Summary: (W3) THAI-MYANMAR BORDER (FILE - 1989) (REUTERS) MYANMAR CAMP AT BORDER MYANMAR SOLDIERS AT BORDER MYANMAR SOLDIER WITH GUN EMBLEM ON SOLDIER'S SLEEVE
- Embargoed: 13th October 2007 13:00
- Topics: History
- Reuters ID: LVAGX6UG4TL6VRJKLDPSDUZPJK0
- Story Text: From independence to the current crisis, Myanmar is steeped in controversy.
It was in January 1948 that Myanmar officially became fully independent.
It had been annexed to British India in the 19th century.
At the time it was one of the richest countries in Asia. But the euphoria over independence was shortlived.
In 1962 armed forces chief of staff General Ne Win staged a coup and ruled the country with an iron fist for almost two decades.
He resigned from power in July 1988 after the rise of the democracy movement brought unrest to the streets of Yangon.
Dozens of students died in fighting, but worse was to come.
In September of that year General Saw Maung overthrew the ruling Burma Socialist Programme Party (BSPP) and established the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) after two months of near daily demonstrations and food and fuel shortages.
More than 3000 demonstrators were killed in the days after the coup.
Pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi led the fight for greater freedoms but in 1989 she was placed under house arrest for "endangering the state".
In a general election Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy party swept to victory, but the win was not recognised by the army.
In 1994 Nobel Prize laureate Suu Kyi had a surprise meeting with SLORC strongmen Generals Khin Nyunt and Than Shwe. It raised hopes for her release but she's still being detained.
However, she remains the opposition's most potent symbol.
Last year Myanmar troops waged their biggest offensive in ten years to quell a five-decade insurgency by ethnic Karen rebels.
Earlier this year Myanmar's 74-year-old paramount leader, Senior General Than Shwe presided over an armed forces ceremony with 15,000 soldiers in the country's new capital Nay Pyi Taw.
Building an efficient, modern army is key to Myanmar's "roadmap to democracy", he said.
The military, which has ruled one of Asia's poorest countries for more than 40 years, says moving too fast towards democracy could fuel ethnic tensions and tear the former Burma apart.
But a leaked video of Than Shwe's daughter getting married in a lavish ceremony sparked outrage among ordinary people in the impoverished nation.
Thandar Shwe is seen decked out in what appear to be diamonds and champagne is poured over a cascade of glasses.
Even before the video surfaced the wedding was the talk of the town with reports of gifts worth fifty million U.S. dollars, nearly three times the 2005 health budget for the entire country.
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