Black Friday Incident


Black Friday Incident
   (May 30, 2003)
   While returning from a visit to Kachin State, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and members of her National League for Democracy (NLD) were attacked by a large gang of men armed with bamboo staves and other crude weapons near the town of Budalin in Sagaing Division. The assailants were believed to be members of the progovernment Union Solidarity and Development Association (USDA), and the violence left as many as 70 or 80 persons dead (the official figure was four). Daw Suu Kyi was taken into "protective custody," and by fall of 2003 was back under house arrest. U Tin U and other party leaders accompanying her were also detained. The State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) claimed that the May 30 incident had been provoked by overzealous members of the NLD, but most observers believe it was a move by the SPDC to crush the opposition party after Daw Suu Kyi's trips to different parts of the country following her May 2002 release from house arrest showed that she still enjoyed tremendous grassroots support. In the wake of the incident, the authorities closed down many NLD branch offices and detained more party members.
   In terms of political dynamics within the SPDC junta, "Black Friday" seemed to reflect the ascendancy of Senior General Than Shwe over "moderates" led by SPDC Secretary-1 Khin Nyunt (who was in fact purged in October 2004). The incident had major international repercussions. The United States passed new sanctions, Japan temporarily halted new aid, and even the Association of Southeast Asian Nations broke with precedent to criticize the SPDC's hard line. Malaysia's Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamed even suggested that ASEAN might have to expel Burma from membership. The proposal of Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra of Thailand that Burma follow a "road map" toward democratization was met with widespread skepticism.
   See also State Peace and Development Council, Internal Dynamics.

Historical Dictionary of Burma (Myanmar). . 2014.

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