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The State Peace and Development Council (Burmese: Bscript Naingngandaw-Ayecha.png, pronounced [nàiŋŋàndɔ̀ éidʒán θàja yéi n̥ḭm pʰṵmpʰyo yéi kaùnsì]; abbreviated SPDC or Na Ah Hpa in Burmese) is the official name of the military regime of Burma (also known as Myanmar), which seized power in 1988.

The SPDC was originally known as State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC). It replaced the role of Burma Socialist Programme Party (BSPP) and was a mainly cosmetic change.[1] In 1997, SLORC was abolished and reconstituted as the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC).

The SPDC consists of the commanders of the service branches and of the regional military commands. The eleven members of the junta[2] probably wield a great deal more power than the cabinet ministers. Some members of the junta also hold cabinet portfolios. By most accounts, regional commanders enjoy a great deal of autonomy in their respective areas.

Although the regime has retreated from the totalitarian Burmese Way to Socialism of BSPP, the regime is widely accused of human rights abuses. It has rejected the 1990 election results and keeps Aung San Suu Kyi in house arrest.



SLORC was formed when the Burmese Armed Forces, commanded by General Saw Maung (later self-promoted to 'Senior General' Saw Maung, died July 1997), seized power on 8 September 1988 crushing the 'Four Eights Uprising'. On the day it seized power SLORC issued Order No.1/1988 stating that the Armed Forces had taken over power and announced the formation of the SLORC. With Order No. 2/1988, the SLORC abolished all 'Organs of State Power' that were formed under the 1974 Burmese Constitution. The Pyithu Hluttaw (the Legislature under the 1974 Constitution), the Council of Ministers (the Cabinet), the Council of People's Justices (the Judiciary), the Council of People's Attorneys (the 'Attorney-General Office'), the Council of People's Inspectors (the 'Auditor-General Office'), as well as the State/Division, Township, Ward/Village People's Councils were abolished.

The SLORC also stated that the services of the Deputy Ministers in the previous Burma Socialist Programme Party (BSPP) government which it replaced were also terminated. (Under the 1974 Burmese Constitution the 'Council of Ministers' acted as a Cabinet but since the Deputy Ministers were not considered to be formally part of the Council of Ministers, the SLORC made sure that the Deputy Minister's – together with the Ministers' – services in the previous BSPP government from whom it had taken over power were also terminated.) The Orders that SLORC issued on the day of its takeover can be seen in the 19 September 1988 issue of The Working People's Daily. The first Chairman of SLORC was General Saw Maung, later Senior General, who was also the Prime Minister. He was removed as both Chairman of SLORC and Prime Minister on 23 April 1992 when General Than Shwe, later Senior General, took over both posts from him.

On 15 November 1997 the SLORC was abolished and reconstituted itself as the State Peace and Development Council. Most but not all members of the abolished SLORC were in the SPDC.



State Law and Order Restoration Council of the Union of Myanmar (1988–1997)

State Peace and Development Council of the Union of Myanmar (since 1997)

Current members

Ordered by protocol:

Human rights abuses

Reports by the United Nations, the Burma Campaign UK, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and other groups have detailed a gruesome litany of abuses taking place in Burma, including:

  • Murder and arbitrary executions
  • Torture and rape
  • Recruitment of child soldiers
  • Forced relocations
  • Forced labor
  • Political imprisonment


One of the worst incidents in Burma took place during the uprising of August 1988, when millions of Burmese marched throughout the country calling for an end to military rule. Soldiers shot hundreds of protesters and killed an estimated 3,000 people in the following weeks.[3] During the August and September demonstrations of 2007, at least 30 protesters were shot and killed and many were tortured. The army continues to engage in brutal military offensives against ethnic minority populations, committing atrocities that violate international humanitarian law.[4]

Recruitment of child soldiers

It has been widely reported that the SPDC have forcibly recruited children - some as young as 10 - to serve in its army, the Tatmadaw. It is difficult to estimate the number of child soldiers currently in the Myanmar Army, but there are thousands, according to Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International. One of the reasons for recruiting children is because more and more soldiers are needed to enable the army to keep close control over the entire country.[5]

Given the deep antipathy most Burmese feel towards their reclusive and privileged military leadership, joining the army is not universally appealing, so the army often turns to forcible recruitment of children.

The UN Secretary-General has named the SPDC in four consecutive reports for violating international standards prohibiting the recruitment and use of child soldiers.

Forced relocations

Human Rights Watch has reported that since Cyclone Nargis in May 2008, the Burmese authorities have expelled hundreds, if not thousands, of displaced persons from schools, monasteries, and public buildings, and encouraged them to return to their destroyed villages in the Irrawaddy Delta. The authorities emptied some public buildings and schools to use as polling stations for the May 24 referendum on a new constitution, despite pleas from United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to postpone the referendum and focus their resources on humanitarian relief. Since then, the SPDC has evicted people from dozens of government-operated tented relief camps in the vicinity of the former capital Yangon, ordering the residents to return to their homes, regardless of the conditions they face.

The forced evictions are part of government efforts to demonstrate that the emergency relief period is over and that the affected population is capable of rebuilding their lives without foreign aid. People forced from their homes by Cyclone Nargis are considered to be internally displaced persons under international law. Under the UN Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement, the Burmese government should ensure the right of “internally displaced persons to return voluntarily, in safety and with dignity, to their homes or places of habitual residence, or to resettle voluntarily in another part of the country.”

Forced labor

Some of the worst forced labor abuses have been reported from southeastern Burma, where a billion-dollar pipeline is being developed by a consortium of America's UNOCAL and France's TOTAL oil companies and the Burmese regime. Forced labor has also been used on tourism development projects. In March 1997, the European Union withdrew Burma's trade privileges because of the prevalence of forced labor and other abuses.

Political imprisonment

Even before the large-scale demonstrations began in August 2007, the authorities arrested many well-known opponents of the government on political grounds, several of whom had only been released from prison several months earlier. Once the protests were underway but before the 25-29 September crackdown, more arrests of members of the opposition party National League for Democracy (NLD) took place, which was seen by many as a pre-emptive measure before the crackdown.

Mass round-ups occurred during the crackdown itself, and the authorities continued to arrest protesters and supporters throughout 2007. Between 3,000 and 4,000 political prisoners were detained, including children and pregnant women, 700 of whom were believed still in detention at year’s end. At least 20 were charged and sentenced under anti-terrorism legislation in proceedings which did not meet international fair trial standards. Detainees and defendants were denied the right to legal counsel.[6]


  1. ^ David I. Steinberg, David L. Steinberg. Burma.  
  2. ^ Leibenluft, Jacob (2008-06-02). "Who's in the Junta? The mysterious generals who run Burma". Slate.  
  3. ^ "News | Human Rights Watch". Retrieved 2009-10-13.  
  4. ^ Elaine Pearson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch (2008-08-06). "Burma: No Rights Reform 20 Years After Massacre | Human Rights Watch". Retrieved 2009-10-13.  
  5. ^ "News | Human Rights Watch". Retrieved 2009-10-13.  
  6. ^ "Amnesty International Report 2009 | Working to Protect Human Rights". 2009-10-09. Retrieved 2009-10-13.  

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