Our hard won Independence
Regaining our sovereignty and independences was not, a plain sailing. It was a long struggle. In the context of history, our struggle for freedom was comparatively short. Within the period of hundred and twenty four years [1824-1948], from the outbreak of the First Anglo-Myanmar in 1824, to the regaining of independence in 1948, we achieved our national freedom from the British Colonial Rule. If compared with the same histories of other countries our struggle for freedom was short. But it had many obstacles of twists and turns. The following is its history in a nut shell.
The downfall of Myanmar monarchy and the early isolated resistances against British Colonial Rule 1885-1895.
By three Anglo-Myanmar wars entire Myanmar fell under the British who dethroned and deported Myanmar King, King Thibaw to India. Myanmar was annexed to the British Indian Empire. Though the British did not have to fire a single shot in the third Anglo-Myanmar War they met with Myanmar resistances. Under different leaderships armed resistance broke out across the country. For nearly five years the British had to put them down by arms. That period was what they called “The period of pacification of Burma”.
Introduction of British Colonial Rule 1890-1900
After consideration of different types of rule such as Protectorate, Reinstatement of deposed King Thibaw, Direct Rule of British Viceroy, or Governor General of British India, they chose to introduce British Colonial Rule. By means of British culture propagated and cultivated by British education they tried to produce a new class of the natives who would became black Englishmen to serve under the rule of white Englishmen. That policy of Anglicization of new generations of the natives for the long lasting of British Colonial Rule had already launched and proved successful in India, which fell under the British nearly three centuries earlier than Myanmar.
So began the so called English “liberal” education in good sense in Myanmar though native monastic education was left untouched because the British found it not only harmless but also contributory to their rule as it emphasized on moral and spiritual aspects of life. The British colonial “Liberal” education did pay a good dividend in Myanmar as it did in India. Anglicized young Myanmars “Black Englishmen” served under the British Government and some rose to the rank of heaven born bureaucrat I.C.S. Indian Civil Service. But English liberal education was like a double edged razor blade. It cuts both ways. Liberal subjects of English Education History, Economics, Pol science, International Laws, Philosophy, literature and the use of English the medium of instruction opened up new generation of Myanmar to the outside world. They began to learn past and current affairs of the countries especially Western countries which had developed into modern nations due to the industrialization by applied science and technology. In history they learnt the rise of Japan as a Thakhin Aung San to give him the identity of the author but Thakhin Aung San refused. He even threatened to expel Thakhin Nu and Thakhin Aung San. That immediately caused the second Yangon University Boycott of 1935.
A far greater storm of social unrest was rising. It was a labour movement at the oil fields of Yenangyaung. The monopoly of the British Burma Oil Company [B.O.C] not only dislodged Myanmar traditional oil fields owners Twin Yoe Twin Sa (wGif;½dk;
wGif;pm;) but also reduced Myanmar oil fields workers to slavery. The Company paid no attention to the workers’ call for the redress of their working and living conditions at the oil fields. They went on strike led by diehard Thakhin Pho Hla Gyi, making a long protest march from Yenangyaung to Yangon the seat of the British Colonial Government. At the secretariats Buildings in down town, serious clashes between the protesters and the Government mounted police broke out resulting in fatal injuries and final death of a Yangon University student Ko Aung Kyaw. The entire Myanmar people supported the oil fields strike and second students Boycott of 1935. The two combined to becomes 1300 Ayedaw pone [Myanmar era 1300 Great Rebellion].
The Period of Disillusionment 1941-1945
Young radical Thakhins decided to fight out the British Colonialists. They had learnt from the British liberal education that Ireland was fighting for national freedom when England was in trouble. “England’s difficulty is Ireland’s opportunity. They had already liberated part of their country – Irish Free State. Why not, now they had “colonialism’s difficulty is nationalism’s
opportunity”. They tried to strike at the Time when England was confronted by Nazism and fascism. They went out of the country in quest of a foreign ally.
Immediate neighbour China was out of the question as it itself was then subjected to Japanese aggression. Even the League of Nations was unable to deter Japan when it took China’s Manchuria by force in 1930. However, Japan’s war slogans and propagandas bore great impacts upon South-east Asia. “Asia for the Asiatics” “East Asia Economic Co-prosperity sphere” under the leadership of Nipon [Japan] appealed much to young Myanmar Leaders.
Thakhin Aung San who miraculously went out of the country unnoticed by the vigilant British Intelligence was leading other like minded young Thakhins. They underwent military training on the island of Hainan by Japanese military trainers, on the “Biruma-Nipon Alliance” that Myanmar allied with Japan in war and Japan gave independence to Myanmar, as soon as the Joint armies set foot on Myanmar soil. Thakhin Aung San and 29 of his comrades-in-arms well known as Yebaw Thone Kyaik [30 Heros], in Myanmar modern history marched with the Japanese Army into Myanmar, as the British evacuated in retreat after the Japanese stormed and destroyed Pearl Harbour Base. The British used scorch and burn method destroying everything in Myanmar as they retreated to India by land. For sometimes Biruma [Myanmar] and Nipon [Japanese] seemed to live and work together well. But after a year or so, Myanmar people and leaders discovered that their hope of independence was disillusioned. Thakhin Aung San by now was war minister in the cabinet of Adipadi Government headed by Dr. Ba Maw. But Japanese Military was the de facto Government. As Japanese fascism began to reveal its true colour-inflicting all kinds of persecution and cruelties on Myanmar people, Myanmar leaders realized that they had courtesy call on his Indian counterpart Mr. Nehru. The two leaders discussed on matters of common interests and they fashioned out the foreign policy of neutralism of their emerging independent countries in the post-World War II period of political bipolarization.
To cut the story short, Bogyoke Aung San returned home, crowned with laurels, with Aung San Atlee Agreement in his pocket. Atlee’s Government promised to grant Myanmar independence within a year, and asked Bogyoke Aung San to draft a constitution for Independence Myanmar Losing on time Bogyoke Aung San and his colleagues set out for political campaignings for the formation of the Union and drafting of the Union constitution. In February of 1947, that great task was accomplished when ethnic nationalities signed the Panglong Agreement on the 12th of that month at a town Panglong in Southern Shan State. We annually celebrate the Union Day on that date 12th February. But the year 1947, brought both fortune and misfortune to us. Four months after Panglong Agreement, in the morning of 19th July, Bogyoke Aung San and colleagues were assassinated at their cabinet meeting. Thakhin Nu had to take the role of Bogyoke Aung San.
On the astrologically chosen auspicious day and time of 4th January 1948, in the early hour, formal transfer of power took place at the Bandoola Park near Sule Pagoda downtown Yangon. As the Union Jack was slowly and solemnly lowered down with British national anthem and the flag of the Republic of the Union of Burma slowly and solemnly went up with national anthem the crowd gathered felt mixed feelings of sorrow and happiness, sad feeling to see the Union Jack going down and elations to see Myanmar flag going up. The British Governor Mr. [Sir] Hubert Rance boarded the ferry to take him to the ocean liner anchored off Myanmar coast.
This is the history of “Our hard won Independence-in a nut shell for us never to forget, always to review to learn lesson and to build our future.”
Our hard won Independence