Union Solidarity and Development Association

   (USDA)
   Burma's largest and most important mass movement organization, established in September 1993 by the State Law and Order Restoration Council with Senior General Than Shwe as its patron. It is not a political party but a "social organization," registered with the Ministry of Home and Religious Affairs. At the beginning of the 21st century, its membership numbers between 10 and 15 million. The USDA is administered through a hierarchy of offices on the central, state/division, district, township, and ward/village tract levels. The USDA's purpose is to organize support for the military regime's policies on the grassroots level. For a nominal fee (five kyats), individuals can join and have access to free courses on practical and ideologically oriented subjects, including computer training, English, and "Buddhist culture." Membership may also make it easier for persons to enjoy favorable treatment at the hands of government or military officials, including employment, while those who refuse to join may be harassed.
   However, members are expected to make considerable contributions in terms of time and labor, including attendance at rallies. USDA mass rallies have frequently been organized to criticize Aung San Suu Kyi and the National League for Democracy. The USDA is considered responsible for a mob attack on her and other NLD leaders in Rangoon (Yangon) in late 1996 and the "Black Friday" Incident of May 30, 2003. It has considerable economic resources at its disposal through ownership of land and enterprises and can establish joint ventures with foreign partners.

Historical Dictionary of Burma (Myanmar). . 2014.

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