New Report Released “The White Shirts”
The Network for Democracy and Development (NDD) today released an 88-page report exposing the true nature of the Union Solidarity and Development Association (USDA) in Burma.
The report, entitled “The White Shirts: How the USDA Will Become the New Face of Burma’s Dictatorship” is released at time when the military regime in Burma has renewed its attack on the National League for Democracy (NLD) aimed at harassing and intimidating NLD members to resign. The USDA is being used to carry out acts of violence and establish a firm grip over all facets of Burmese society.
Based on interviews with twenty members of the USDA, the report exposes the dark secrets of the organization, from recruitment through intimidation and/or inducements, to its program of infiltrating and seeking dominance over the educational system and economy of Burma. The USDA has sought to infiltrate or eliminate civil society organizations in the country, reconstituting civil society according to the needs of the regime. The USDA has tried to co-opt the humanitarian work of international agencies, to strengthen its patronage as a benevolent organization.
The USDA, notorious for numerous acts of political violence, has trained villagers to form people’s militias and encouraged a culture of lawlessness and thuggish behavior, particularly among the youth members. This has led to the incitement of religious conflict and several violent attacks on members of the pro-democracy movement, including the notorious the Depayin Massacre, a brutal attack on Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and members of her convoy, injuring hundreds and killing many. Today marks the third anniversary of the Depayin Massacre.
More ominously, this report warns of the ascendancy of the USDA as a political organization. Already, USDA members are in the majority at the National Convention. It is believed that the regime plans to use USDA to extend and perpetuate military rule under a pseudo-democracy. The USDA’s top levels are peopled by senior leaders of the SPDC, making the USDA and the SPDC essentially the same.
In the preface to the new report, former Ambassador of Thailand, Surapong Jayanama, states, “Whether other countries acknowledge the USDA as a political entity will be an important factor in the continuation of the organization as well s its strength and power. It must be ensured that the USDA is an organization freely joined and that its actions are independent of the current regime. Without this assurance a transfer of power to the USDA would be no transfer at all. It would merely allow the SPDC to maintain its grip on power and continue the oppression of the Burmese people.”
Echoing this sentiment in the foreword to the report, AIPMC Vice-President and Indonesian Member of Parliament, Nursyahbani Katjasungkana, concludes that the UN Security Council is needed to bring about change in Burma: “As my colleagues and I from the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Myanmar Caucus (AIPMC) have advocated in the past, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) must take action in the case of Burma. The UN Secretary-General must be empowered in his efforts to facilitate national reconciliation and democratization in Burma. This also includes steps to ensure that the USDA does not compromise Burma’s transition to a civilian government.”
The Network for Democracy and Development (NDD) is a programme-based political organisation, which is committed to striving for the promotion of democracy and human rights, internal peace and ethnic equality and self-determination in Burma.