Myanmar's powerful military chief, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, has come in limelight in world's politics after military seized power on Monday in a coup against the democratically elected government of Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, who was detained along with other leaders of her National League for Democracy (NLD) party Monday early morning's raids.
Myanmar army general who is the current State Leader of Myanmar and Commander-in-Chief of the Myanmar Armed Forces, took power as state leader in the 2021 Myanmar coup.
He assumed the post of Commander of Chief of the armed forces on 30 March 2011.
He is also a member of the National Defence and Security Council (NDSC) chaired by the President of Myanmar.He was previously Joint Chief of Staff of the Ministry of Defence of Myanmar, and was promoted to four-star General in the early 2011 and five-star General in March 2013.
On 5 November 2020, Tatmadaw (the armed forces of Myanmar) declared the Senior General Min Aung Hlaing's rank is equivalent to Vice President of Myanmar.
Early life and career
Min Aung Hlaing was born on 3 July 1956 in Tavoy, Burma (now Dawei, Myanmar). His father, Thaung Hlaing, is a civil engineer, who worked at the Ministry of Construction.
Min Aung Hlaing passed his matriculation exam in 1972 at BEHS 1 Latha of Rangoon (Yangon). He attended and studied law at the Rangoon Arts and Science University from 1972 to 1973 before joining the Defense Services Academy in the 19th Intake 1974 on his third attempt.He was reportedly shunned by classmates because of his reserved personality.
Key dates are as follows:
1972 March – Rangoon Arts and Science University (Law)
1974 – University Training Corps (1971–1974: sergeant)
1974 January – Defence Services Academy
1977 December – Commissioned a second lieutenant in the Burmese Army
Following graduation, Min Aung Hlaing went on to command positions in Mon State and 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).
Major General – 2008/2009
Lieutenant General – Late 2009
General – Early 2011
Vice-Senior General - Early 2012
Senior General – March 2013
He rose to prominence in 2009 after leading an offensive against the insurgent Myanmar Nationalities Democratic Alliance Army in Kokang.
In June 2010, Min Aung Hlaing replaced General Shwe Mann as Joint Chief of Staff of the Army, Navy, and Air Force. On 30 March 2011 he became the new Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Myanmar, replacing the outgoing head of state and junta chief, Senior General Than Shwe.
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.
On 27 March 2012, during a speech in Naypyidaw, Min Aung Hlaing defended the military's continued role in national politics. 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 the Armed Forces of Myanmar.He was promoted to senior general in March 2013.
Human rights violations
The UNHRC (United Nations Human Rights Council) reported that Min Aung Hlaing's soldiers have been deliberately targeting civilians in Northern states of Myanmar and have been doing "systemic discrimination" and human rights violations against minority communities in Rakhine State.
In particular, he has been accused of ethnic cleansing against the Rohingya people.
These human rights violations could amount to genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes.
Sanctions on Min Aung Hlaing
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.Twitter later banned him on 16 May 2019.
On 17 March 2019, Kyaw Zaw Oo, an Arakanese MP, published a bi-lingual 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.
In July 2019, the United States government banned him from travel to the United States. In December 2020, it froze Min Aung Hlaing's American-based assets and criminalized financial transactions between him and anyone in the United States.
Min Aung Hlaing has courted significant controversy for his family's significant business interests and potential conflict of interest. He is a major shareholder in the military-owned Myanmar Economic Holdings Limited (MEHL). During the 2010–11 fiscal year, he had owned 5,000 shares and received an annual dividend payment of $250,000. He sits in MEHL's Patron Group, which runs the conglomerate.
Min Aung Hlaing's son, Aung Pyae Sone, owns a number of private companies, including Sky One Construction Company and Aung Myint Mo Min Insurance Company. He also has a majority stake in Mytel, a national telecoms carrier. In 2013, his son Aung Pyae Sone won a no-bid government permit well below market rates, to lease land for 30 years at the Yangon People's Park for a high-end restaurant and art gallery, following his father's promotion to Commander-in-Chief. 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. Myanmar's customs department is led by Kyaw Htin, a former MEHL director.
His daughter Khin Thiri Thet Mon founded a major film studio, 7th Sense Film Production, in 2017.
That same year, his daughter-in-law, Myo Radana Htaik, founded another entertainment company, Stellar Seven Entertainment.
The American Embassy, Yangon came under scrutiny in December 2020, for collaborating with 7th Sense Creation, because Min Aung Hlaing is technically subject to US economic sanctions.