Union Solidarity and Development Association (Myanmar (Burma))

Country: Myanmar (Burma)
Details of Formation: In 1993, the ruling military junta, the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC), formed the Union Solidarity and Development Association, a social welfare and self-described patriotic organization.
Details of Termination: Before the election took place in November 2010, the USDA was transformed into a political party, called Union Solidarity and Development Party. Hence, the USDA as PGM was dissolved in July 2010.
Purpose: The group was intended to provide domestic security and order, protect borders and national security, and serve as a social welfare organisation, according to officials. In practice, the group was used to suppress oppositional movements, particularly protests and the democracy movement led by Aung San Suu Kyi, and to collect information about political opponents, serving as a spy network for the junta.
Organisation: The PGM was responsible to the Ministry of Agriculture and the head of the group (General Secretary) was Agriculture Minister Htay Oo. Members of the PGM’s Central Panel of Patrons included Senior General Than Shwe and Prime Minister Thein Sein.
Weapons and Training: According to reports the group was armed with slingshots and bamboo sticks. Moreover, “anti-riot training” was provided by the government and conducted by the military.
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Reason for Membership: Membership was compulsory for government employees and civilians were pressured to join.
Treatment of Civilians: The PGM attacked civilians taking part in demonstrations, e.g. beating and detaining protesters, which resulted in casualties and injuries. It intimidated the population and civilians were forcibly recruited or pressured become members.
Other Information: The USDA has a close relationship to the Swan Arr Shin (Masters of Force) militia. It was dissolved in 2010 but replaced by the Union Solidarity and Development Party. Sometimes the group is also referred to as whiteshirts due to their particular clothing.
References: Information was taken from news sources listed in the PGMD.