The Burma Collections Exhibition

Driwancybermuseum’s Blog

tarian betawi tempo dulu                 

                           WELCOME COLLECTORS FROM ALL OVER THE WORLD

                          SELAMAT DATANG KOLEKTOR INDONESIA DAN ASIAN

                                                AT DR IWAN CYBERMUSEUM

                                          DI MUSEUM DUNIA MAYA DR IWAN S.

_____________________________________________________________________

SPACE UNTUK IKLAN SPONSOR

_____________________________________________________________________

 *ill 001

                      *ill 001  LOGO MUSEUM DUNIA MAYA DR IWAN S.*ill 001

                                THE FIRST INDONESIAN CYBERMUSEUM

                           MUSEUM DUNIA MAYA PERTAMA DI INDONESIA

                 DALAM PROSES UNTUK MENDAPATKAN SERTIFIKAT MURI

                                        PENDIRI DAN PENEMU IDE

                                                     THE FOUNDER

                                            Dr IWAN SUWANDY, MHA

                                                         

    BUNGA IDOLA PENEMU : BUNGA KERAJAAN MING SERUNAI( CHRYSANTHENUM)

  

                         WELCOME TO THE MAIN HALL OF FREEDOM               

                     SELAMAT DATANG DI GEDUNG UTAMA “MERDEKA” 

SHOWCASE :

The Burma  Collections Exhibition

Frame 0ne: Dr Iwan’s Burma Collections

I.Ancient Burma Collections

1.ANCIENT BURMA RELIEF AND FIGURINES

2.ANCIENT BURMA JAR FOUND IN INDONESIA


2. ANCIENT BURMA TEMPLE


II. BRITISH RULE BURMA
During this time Burma was the province ogf British Clony India, that is why British India stamps and revenue used at Burma.
The revenue sheet collections were during King Edward and king George, please the native Burma help me to translate the ccument because were writing in native language.
The Bristh India stamps used in Burma, was found nly from three city, Rangon, Moulmen and Mutiyana from Queen Victria until King George
(Mutiyana in Burma , Nepal other country ? please comment, during this time als used in anther country like Tibet,Nepal,Bhutan, and Aden, the cllectors wh have this stamps please share with us via comment)

(1) REVENUE SHEET HISTORY



(2) POSTAL HISTORY


III. BRITSH COLONY BURMA COLLECTIONS
(1) British Colony Burma flag

(2) Vintage Military Picture


(3) Vintage Native Picture


2. BRITISH COLONY BURMA POSTAL HISTORY
(1) Dr iwan S.collections

(2) Mr Konrad collections


(b) Union of Burma postally used Cover

new info the collections of Mr Konrad

THE DAI NIPPON OCCUPATION BURMA
1.Dai Nippon Occupation Burma Postal History






2.THE BRIDGE OF RIVER KWAI MEMORABLE COLLECTIONS EXHIBITION

1)INTRODUCTION

(1.)One of the famous postal history topical collections were the Prisoner of War during Dai nippon Occupation at Burma(now Myanmar) which work to built the famous bridge on tne River Kwai.

 Salah satu topik Koleksi dokumen dan postal Histori yang terkenal adalah koleksi Tawanan perang Pemerintah militer Dai Nippon di Burma yang bekerja membuat jembatan sungai river Kwai

(2.) The writter had found some rare postal history, box memorabilia  and memorabilia document related with the bridge on the river kwai and POW  of Dai Nippon camp at Moulmein Burma(now Myamar) which the POW work to built that famous bridge

Penulis telah menemukan beberapa koleksi memorabilia yang terkait dengan petawan perang di Moulmein Burma yang dipaksa bekerja membangun jembatan river Kwai, dan juga tawanan yang berhasil pulang ke Indonesia ,masih menyimpan kotak tembakau yang dibawanya ke Kamp Tawanan di moulmein ,inofrmasi perjalannay ke Burma dari Tjimahi ditoreh pada kotak kaleng tembakau tersebut dengan tempat singgah dalam perjalan dari dan kembali ke camp tersebut.tahun 1942 berangkat dari POW Tjimahi ke batavai(Jakarta), selanjutnya ke Penang–>Rangoon (Yangoon saat ini) Burma (Myamar)—->Moulmein POW Camp Burma  dan lengkap tangalnya ,bernama Coegen, meupakan penemuan luar biasa karena sangat jarang tawanan perang tersebut kembali dlam keadaan hidup ke Indonesia masih menyimpan kotak tembakau yang dibawanya ke Kamp Tawanan di moulmein 

(3)Biside that found the ID of the Dai Nippon ‘s  Moulmein POW ID before he had caught and sent to the POW camp,he work at Gas oil exploration at Plaju,South Sumatra, Also found his letter from moulmein camp to Batavia for his wife,and his wife Dai nippon ID Card.

 Selain itu juga ditemui  kartu ID Mr Romeijn pegawai perminyakan Belanda BPM Plaju yang ditawan Dai nippon

, dan di bawa ke Kamp tawanan perang Dai Nippon Di Burma ,lihatlah surat yang dikirmnya dari Camp tersebut dari Burma kepadza isterinya di surabaya liwat batavia(Jakarta) surat POW Card dari camp Moulmein Burma kepada Isterinya di Indonesia

*Dai Nippon Moulmein (now myanmar) Card sent to his wife via Batavia(now jakarta)

serta KTP pendudukan Jepang atas nama isterinya,,

(3)Beside the postal history and ID, The author also found one memorable tobacco box with Incised scrip the route from Indonesia,via penang to ranggon (now Yangoon ata least he  came to The Dai Nippon moulmein prisenor of war camp at Burma (now Myanmar) he move from tasikmalaya west java camp,to Batavia in 1942, to Penang  and at least to Burma (now myanmar) in 1942, the name of prisoner of war Coghen (Dutch east indie army)

Ditemukan juga kotak tembakau milik tawanan perang  belanda(Dutch prisoner of War) Coghen , yang   menoreh kotak kaleng tembakau tersebut dengan tempat singgah dalam perjalan dari dan kembali ke camp tersebut.tahun 1942 berangkat dari POW Tjimahi ke batavai(Jakarta), selanjutnya ke Penang–>Rangoon (Yangoon saat ini) Burma (Myamar)—->Moulmein POW Camp Burma  dan lengkap tangalnya ,bernama Coegen, merupakan penemuan luar biasa karena sangat jarang tawanan perang tersebut kembali dlam keadaan hidup ke Indonesia.

(4). Sejarah pembuatan jembatan river kwai dan pembuatan film yang terkenal dengan lagu elephant walk diperoleh dari eksplorasi Google, juga stempel khus dan gambar jembatan River Kwai.Teman FB penulis memberikan informasi tentang film tersbut sebagai berikut

The history of the brige on the river kwai had made in film cinematography with the famous song the elephant walk, he author FB friend .send the info about the film ,look below:

The Bridge on the River Kwai

The Bridge on the River Kwai is a 1957 British World War II film by David Lean based on the novel The Bridge over the River Kwai by French writer Pierre Boulle. The film is a work of fiction but borrows the construction of the Burma Railway in 1942–43 for its historical setting. It stars William Holden, Alec Guinness, Jack Hawkins, and Sessue Hayakawa.

In 1997, this film was deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” and selected for preservation in the United States Library of Congress National Film Registry.

Plot

After the surrender of Singapore in World War II, a unit of British soldiers are marched to a Japanese prison camp in western Thailand. They are paraded before the camp commandant, Colonel Saito (Sessue Hayakawa), who informs them of his rules; all prisoners, regardless of rank, are to work on the construction of a bridge over the River Kwai to carry a new railway line

4, besar harapan penulis bagi pembaca yang memiliki tambahan informasi agar berkenan membreikan tambahan info,terima kasih.

The author need more informations related of the the bridge of tthe river kwai like stamps, postal cover and other poster or old books. thank very much. one of my friend Myanmar bridge of the river kwai in FB want to sedn me more info,that is why  I have add the  english version on this exhibition.thankyou friend  Iam waiting your new info just you have told me ,the bdrige ogf the river kwai stamps sheet,please sedn the illustration on your FB wall,I will tag from that site.

(5)THE HISTORY OF THE BRIDGE OF RIVER KWAI

The Bridge on the River Kwai

.
 

Original release poster
Directed by David Lean
Produced by Sam Spiegel
Written by Screenplay:
Michael Wilson
Carl Foreman
Novel:
Pierre Boulle
Starring William Holden
Alec Guinness
Jack Hawkins
Sessue Hayakawa
Music by Malcolm Arnold
Cinematography Jack Hildyard
Editing by Peter Taylor
Studio Horizon Pictures
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release date(s) October 2, 1957 (1957-10-02)
Running time 161 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Budget $3 million
Gross revenue $27.2 million

The Bridge on the River Kwai is a 1957 British World War II film by David Lean based on the novel The Bridge over the River Kwai by French writer Pierre Boulle. The film is a work of fiction but borrows the construction of the Burma Railway in 1942–43 for its historical setting. It stars William Holden, Alec Guinness, Jack Hawkins, and Sessue Hayakawa.

In 1997, this film was deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” and selected for preservation in the United States Library of Congress National Film Registry.

 

Plot

After the surrender of Singapore in World War II, a unit of British soldiers are marched to a Japanese prison camp in western Thailand. They are paraded before the camp commandant, Colonel Saito (Sessue Hayakawa), who informs them of his rules; all prisoners, regardless of rank, are to work on the construction of a bridge over the River Kwai to carry a new railway line.

Their commander, Colonel Nicholson (Alec Guinness), reminds Saito that the Geneva Conventions exempt officers from manual labour, but Saito furiously orders everyone to work. At the following morning’s parade, Saito threatens to have the officers shot, and Nicholson refuses to back down. When Major Clipton (James Donald), the British medical officer, intervenes, Saito leaves the officers standing all day in the intense tropical heat. That evening, the officers are placed in a punishment hut, while Nicholson is locked into ‘the oven’, an iron box, to suffer without food or water.

Clipton attempts to negotiate with Saito for Nicholson’s release, but Nicholson refuses to compromise. Meanwhile, the soldiers are working as little as possible and sabotaging whenever they can. Saito is concerned that should he fail to meet his deadline, he would be obliged to commit seppuku (ritual suicide). Using the anniversary of Japan’s great victory in the Russo-Japanese War as an excuse to save face, he gives in, and Nicholson and his officers are released to command their men.

Nicholson conducts an inspection and is shocked by what he finds. Against the protests of some of his officers, he orders Captain Reeves (Peter Williams) and Major Hughes (John Boxer) to design and build a proper bridge, despite its military value to the Japanese, for the sake of his men’s morale. The Japanese engineers had chosen a poor site, so the original construction is abandoned and a new bridge is begun 400 yards downstream, using better materials. His officers are concerned that this can be seen as collaboration, but Nicholson is determined that the job will be done as well as it can be done, and by British soldiers, not slave labourers.

Meanwhile, three prisoners attempt to escape. Two are shot dead, but United States Navy Commander Shears (William Holden), gets away, although badly wounded. After many days, Shears eventually stumbles into a village, whose people help him to escape by a boat. He reaches the Mount Lavinia Hospital at Ceylon.

Shears is enjoying his recovery in Ceylon and about to leave for the USA, but Major Warden (Jack Hawkins) asks him to volunteer for a commando mission to destroy the bridge. Shears is horrified at the idea and reveals that he is not an officer at all, but an enlisted man who switched uniforms with the dead Commander Shears after the sinking of their ship, to get better treatment. Warden already knows this, and “Shears” has been reassigned to British duty. Shears has no choice but to join Warden’s unit, with the “simulated rank of Major”.

Meanwhile, Nicholson drives his men to complete the bridge on time. He even volunteers his junior officers for physical labour, provided that their Japanese counterparts join in as well.

The commandos parachute in, although one is killed in a bad landing. The other three reach the river with the assistance of Siamese women porters and their village chief, Khun Yai. Warden is wounded in an encounter with a Japanese patrol, and has to be carried on a litter. But the trio reach the bridge, and under cover of darkness, plant explosives underwater.

A Japanese train carrying soldiers and important officials is scheduled to be the first to use the bridge the following morning and Warden plans to destroy both the bridge and the train. But the following morning, the river level has dropped, exposing the wires to the detonator. Making a final inspection, Nicholson spots the wire and brings it to Saito’s attention. As the train is heard approaching, the two colonels hurry down to the riverbank to stop the potential destruction. Joyce breaks cover and stabs Saito to death; Nicholson yells for help, while attempting to stop Joyce from reaching the detonator. Shears swims across the river, but he and Joyce is shot by Warden, just before he reaches Nicholson.

Recognising the dying Shears, Nicholson exclaims, “What have I done?”, attempting to run towards the detonator. Warden fires his mortar, mortally wounding Nicholson. The colonel stumbles towards the detonator and falls on it as he dies, just in time to blow up the bridge and send the train hurtling into the river below. After exclaiming that he had to kill the two commandos to the Siamese, Warden throws his mortar off the cliff.

As he witnesses the carnage, Clipton can only shake his head incredulously and utter, “Madness! … Madness!”

THE RARE DN BURMA POW CAMP CARD
(1) DUTCH SOLDIER AT MOULMEIN CAMP SENT THE DAI NIPPON MOULMEIN POW CAR VIA COURIER TO HIS WIFE TO HIS WIFE VIA BATAVIA (JAKARTA)
He told that he was in god health and asking about his children. His wife stayed at Soerabaja, During Dai Nippon Occupation the Indonesian citizen who merried expatriat didnot put in the POW camp.
Look at two very rare collections :
(1) Dai Nippon Moulmein POW Card sent to Batavia(Jakarta)
(2) His wife Dai Nippon Java ID issued by Dai Nippon Military government at Soerabia.

Moulmein POW Camp

 

Moulmein POW Card

<img src=”http://uniquecollection.files.wordpress.com/2010/04/p4160453.jpg?w=225″ alt=”” title=”P4160452” width=”225″ height=”300″ class=”aligncenter size-medium wp-image-7368″ />

POW card caption

 

Health info

 

Mr Romeijn handsigned
Front of POW card


[/caption 

(2) DAI NIPPON DUTCH POW MOULMEIN BURMA WIFE DAI NIPPON JAVA ID AT SURABAIA INDONESIA.

DaiNipponBurmaPOW wife ID

Dai Nippon POW Card

Ex POW Burma collections

The POW at Moulmein Camp

(3)THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI FILM POSTER

The Movies Poster 1957

(4) THE PICTURE OF THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI WERE MANY DAI NIPPON MOULMEIN POW WORK TO BUILD THAT BRIDGE
this famous bridge later became at theme of the very popular film with the famous song theme the Elephent Walk and also look at the picture of the POW camp..

The Bridge Of River Kwai


The bridge of river Kwai stamps

(5) DAI NIPPON BURMA POSTAL HISTORY 1943
AND 1944

Dai Nippon Burma 1943

(6) DAI NIPPON OCCUPATION BURMA REVENUE SHEET


Dai Nippon Burma 1944

THE UNION OF BURMA UNIQUE COLLECTIONS

1. GENERAL BA MAW THE FIRST MYANMAR PRIME MENISTRY PROFILE PICTURE


Ba Maw

 

(2) THE MYANMAR HEROS AUNG SAN PICTURE

Aung San

3. THE POSTAL AND REVENUE SHEET HISTORY UNION OF BURMA
Union of Burma in native language overprint the British colony Burma stamps, revenue sheet and definif stamps.

UoBurma Rev.Sheet 1960

 

4.THE SECOND UNION OF BURMA (NOW MYANMAR)PRIME MENISTRYPROFILE PICTURE U NU.

U Nu
UOB flag

UnionOfBurma stamps


5. THE THIRD PRIME MENISTRY PROFILE PICTURE SAW MUANG

Saw Muang

6. THE FOURTH PRIME MENISTRY PROFILE NE WIN

Gen. Ne Win

7. THE DAUGHTER OFAUNG SAN,SYUU KYI, VINTAGE PROFILE PICTURE

Vintage A.S.Syuu Kyi

Postal Used Union of Myanmar

 

II. THE CHROLOGIC HISTORIC COLLECTIONS OF BURMA

FRAME TWO :

The Burma HIstoric Collections

History of Burma
WikiProject Burma (Myanmar) peacock.svg
This article is part of a series


Early history
Early History
Pyu city-states (c. 100 BC–832)
Thaton Kingdom (9th–1057)
Feudal era
Pagan Dynasty (849–1287)
Myinsaing Kingdom (1298–1312)
Pinya Kingdom (1312–1364)
Sagaing Kingdom (1315–1364)
Ava Kingdom (1364–1555)
Hanthawaddy Kingdom (1287–1539)
Mrauk U Kingdom (1430–1784)
Shan States (1215–1557)
Toungoo Dynasty (1486–1752)
Restored Hanthawaddy Kingdom (1740–1757)
Konbaung Dynasty (1752–1885)
Colonial era (1824–1948)
Anglo-Burmese Wars
(1824–1826, 1852, 1885)
British rule
(1824–1942, 1945–1948)
Nationalist movement (1886–1948)
Japanese occupation (1942–1945)
State of Burma (1943–1945)
Modern era
Union of Burma (1948–1962)
Socialist Republic of Burma (1962–1988)
Union of Myanmar (1989–2010)
Republic of the Union of Myanmar (2010–present)

Burma Portal

v • d • e

The history of Burma, now officially Myanmar, is long and complicated. Several ethnic groups have lived in the region, the oldest of which are probably the Mon or the Pyu. In the 9th century the Bamar (Burman) people migrated from the then China-Tibet border region into the valley of the Ayeyarwady, and now form the governing majority.

The history of the region comprises complexities not only within the country but also with its neighbouring countries, China, India, Bangladesh, Laos and Thailand.

//

[edit] Early history

Humans lived in the region that is now Burma as early as 11,000 years ago, but the first identifiable civilisation is that of the Pyu although both Burman and Mon tradition claim that the fabled Suvarnabhumi mentioned in ancient Pali and Sanskrit texts was a Mon kingdom centred on Thaton in present day Mon state.

Artifacts from the excavated site of Nyaunggan help to reconstruct Bronze Age life in Burma and the more recent archaeological evidence at Samon Valley south of Mandalay suggests rice growing settlements between about 500 BC and AD 200 which traded with Qin and Han dynasty China.[1]

[edit] Pyu

Main article: Pyu city-states

The Pyu arrived in Burma in the 1st century BC and established city kingdoms at Binnaka, Mongamo, Sri Ksetra, Peikthanomyo, and Halingyi. During this period, Burma was part of an overland trade route from China to India. Chinese sources state that the Pyu controlled 18 kingdoms and describe them as a humane and peaceful people. War was virtually unknown amongst the Pyu, and disputes were often solved through duels by champions or building competitions. They even wore silk cotton instead of actual silk so they would not have to kill silk worms. Crime was punished by whippings and jails were unknown, though serious crimes could result in the death penalty. The Pyu practiced Theravada Buddhism, and all children were educated as novices in the temples from the age of seven until the age of 20.

The Pyu city-states never unified into a Pyu kingdom, but the more powerful cities often dominated and called for tribute from the lesser cities. The most powerful city by far was Sri Ksetra(SriKhestra), which archaeological evidence indicates was the largest Pyu city that has ever been built in Burma. The exact date of its founding is not known, though likely to be prior to a dynastic change in A.D. 94 that Pyu chronicles speak of. Sri Ksetra(SriKhestra) was apparently abandoned around A.D. 656 in favour of a more northerly capital, though the exact site is not known. Some historians believe it was Halingyi. Wherever the new capital was located, it was sacked by the kingdom of Nanzhao in the mid-9th century, ending the Pyu’s period of dominance.

[edit] Mon

Main article: Mon kingdoms

The 6th century Mon kingdom of Dvaravati in the lower Chao Phraya valley in present day Thailand extended its frontiers to the Tenasserim Yoma (mountains). With subjugation by the Khmer Empire from Angkor in the 11th century the Mon shifted further west deeper into present day Burma. Oral tradition suggests that they had contact with Buddhism via seafaring as early as the 3rd century BC and had received an envoy of monks from Ashoka in the 2nd century BC.

The Mons adopted Indian culture together with Theravada Buddhism and are thought to have founded kingdoms in Lower Burma including the Thaton Kingdom circa 9th century AD and Bago (Pegu) in 825. The Kingdom of Ramaññadesa (or Ramanya) referenced by Arab geographers in 844–8.[1] is believed to be Thaton. The lack of archaeological evidence for this may in part be due to the focus of excavation work predominantly being in Upper Burma.

[edit] Pagan Dynasty (849–1287)

Main article: Pagan Kingdom

Pagan Kingdom

To the north another group of people, the Burmans, also began to settle in the area. By 849, they had a kingdom centered on the city of Pagan (Bagan) filling the void left by the Pyu.

Burmese tradition maintains that the Burmans were originally of three tribes, the Pyu, the Thet, and the Kanyan. Indeed, Pyu as a language and as a people simply disappeared soon after the Myazedi Inscription of 1113. The word Mranma,in both Mon and Myanmar inscriptions, came into being only at about the same time, lending support to this claim that the Pyu were an earlier vanguard of southward Tibeto-Burman migration who were entirely absorbed into a newly formed identity by later waves of similar people .

The Pagan Kingdom grew in relative isolation until the reign of Anawrahta who successfully unified all of Burma by defeating the Mon kingdom of Thaton in 1057. Consolidation was accomplished under his successors Kyanzittha and Alaungsithu, so that by the mid-12th century, most of continental Southeast Asia was under the control of either the Pagan Kingdom or the Khmer Empire. The Pagan kingdom went into decline as more land and resources fell into the hands of the powerful Sangha (monkhood) and the Mongols threatened from the north. The last true ruler of Pagan, Narathihapate felt confident in his ability to resist the Mongols and advanced into Yunnan in 1277 to make war upon them. He was thoroughly crushed at the Battle of Ngasaunggyan, and Pagan resistance virtually collapsed. The king was assassinated by his own son in 1287, precipitating a Mongol invasion in the Battle of Pagan; the Mongols successfully captured most of the empire, including its capital, and ended the dynasty in 1287 when they installed a puppet ruler in Burma.

[edit] Small kingdoms

SE Asia circa 1340

After the fall of Pagan, the Mongols left in the searing Irrawaddy valley but the Pagan Kingdom was irreparably broken up into several small kingdoms. By the early 15th century, the country became organized along four major power centers: Upper Burma, Lower Burma, Shan States and Arakan. Many of the power centers were themselves made up of (often loosely held) minor kingdoms or princely states. This era was marked by a series of wars and switching alliances. Smaller kingdoms played a precarious game of paying allegiance to more powerful states, sometimes simultaneously.

[edit] Ava (1364–1555)

Main article: Ava Kingdom

Founded in 1364, Ava (Inwa) was the successor state to earlier, even smaller kingdoms based in central Burma: Myinsaing (1298–1312), Pinya (1312–1364), and Sagaing (1315–1364). In its first years of existence, Ava, which viewed itself as the rightful successor to the Pagan Empire, tried to reassemble the former empire. While it was able to pull Toungoo and peripheral Shan states (Kale, Mohnyin, Mogaung, Thibaw) into its fold at the peak of its power, it failed to reconquer the rest. The Forty Years’ War (1385–1424) with Hanthawaddy left Ava exhausted, and its power plateaued. Its kings regularly faced rebellions in its vassal regions but were able to put them down until the 1480s. In the late 15th century, Prome and its Shan states successfully broke away, and in the early 16th century, Ava itself came under attacks from its former vassals. In 1510, Toungoo also broke away. In 1527, the Confederation of Shan States led by Mohnyin captured Ava. The Confederation’s rule of Upper Burma, though lasted until 1555, was marred by internal fighting between Mohnyin and Hsipaw houses. The kingdom was toppled by Toungoo forces in 1555.

The Burmese language and culture came into its own during the Ava period.

[edit] Hanthawaddy Pegu (1287–1539)

Main article: Hanthawaddy Kingdom

The Mon-speaking kingdom was founded as Ramannadesa right after Pagan’s collapse in 1287. In the beginning, the Lower-Burma-based kingdom was a loose federation of regional power centers in Martaban (Mottama), Pegu (Bago) and the Irrawaddy delta. The energetic reign of Razadarit (1384–1422) cemented the kingdom’s existence. Razadarit firmly unified the three Mon-speaking regions together, and successfully held off Ava in the Forty Years’ War (1385–1424). After the war, Hanthawaddy entered its golden age whereas its rival Ava gradually went into decline. From the 1420s to the 1530s, Hanthawaddy was the most powerful and prosperous kingdom of all post-Pagan kingdoms. Under a string of especially gifted monarchs, the kingdom enjoyed a long golden age, profiting from foreign commerce. The kingdom, with a flourishing Mon language and culture, became a center of commerce and Theravada Buddhism. Nonetheless, due to the inexperience of its last ruler, the powerful kingdom was conquered by an upstart kingdom of Toungoo in 1539.

[edit] Shan States (1287–1557)

Main article: Shan States

The Shans, who came down with the Mongols, stayed and quickly came to dominate much of northern to eastern arc of Burma—from northwestern Sagaing Division to Kachin Hills to the present day Shan Hills. The most powerful Shan states were Mohnyin and Mogaung in present-day Kachin State, followed by Theinni, Thibaw and Momeik in present-day northern Shan State.[2] Minor states included Kalay, Bhamo, Nyaungshwe and Kengtung. Mohnyin, in particular, constantly raided Ava’s territory in the early 16th century. Monhyin-led Confederation of Shan States, in alliance with Prome Kingdom, captured Ava itself in 1527. The Confederation defeated its erstwhile ally Prome in 1533, and ruled all of Upper Burma except Toungoo. But the Confederation was marred by internal bickering, and could not stop Toungoo, which conquered Ava in 1555 and all of Shan States in 1557.

[edit] Arakan (1287–1784)

Main article: History of Rakhine

Although Arakan had been de facto independent since the late Pagan period, the Laungkyet dynasty of Arakan was ineffectual. Until the founding of the Mrauk-U Kingdom in 1430, Arakan was often caught between bigger neighbors, and found itself a battlefield during the Forty Years’ War between Ava and Pegu. Mrauk-U went on to be a powerful kingdom in its own right between 15th and 17th centuries, including East Bengal between 1459 and 1666. Arakan was the only post-Pagan kingdom not to be annexed by the Toungoo dynasty.

[edit] Toungoo Dynasty (1486–1752)

Main article: Toungoo Dynasty

SE Asia in 1540

Bayinnaung’s Empire

[edit] First Toungoo Empire (1486–1599)

Starting in the 1480s, Ava faced constant internal rebellions and external attacks from the Shan States, and began to disintegrate. In 1510, Toungoo, located in the remote southeastern corner of the Ava kingdom, also declared independence.[2] When the Confederation of Shan States conquered Ava in 1527, many Burmans fled southeast to Toungoo, the only kingdom remaining under Burman rule, and one surrounded by larger hostile kingdoms.

Toungoo, led by its ambitious king Tabinshwehti and his deputy Gen. Bayinnaung, would go on to reunify the petty kingdoms that had existed since the fall of the Pagan Empire, and found the largest empire in the history of Southeast Asia. First, the upstart kingdom defeated a more powerful Hanthawaddy in the Toungoo–Hanthawaddy War (1535–1541). Tabinshwehti moved the capital to newly captured Pegu in 1539. Toungoo expanded its authority up to Pagan in 1544 but failed to conquer Arakan in 1546 and Siam in 1548. Tabinshwehti’s successor Bayinnaung continued the policy of expansion, conquering Ava in 1555, Shan States (1557), Lan Na (1558), Manipur (1559), Chinese Shan States (1562), Siam (1564, 1569), and Lan Xang (1574), and bringing much of western and central mainland Southeast Asia under his rule.

Bayinnaung put in place a lasting administrative system that reduced the power of hereditary Shan chiefs, and brought Shan customs in line with low-land norms.[3] But he could not replicate an effective administrative system everywhere in his far flung empire. His empire was a loose collection of former sovereign kingdoms, whose kings were loyal to him as the Cakravartin (Universal Ruler), not the kingdom of Toungoo.

The overextended empire unraveled soon after Bayinnaung’s death in 1581. Siam declared independence in 1584 and went to war with Burma until 1605. By 1593, the kingdom had lost its possessions in Siam, Lang Xang and Manipur. By 1597, all internal regions, including the city of Toungoo, the erstwhile home of the dynasty, had revolted. In 1599, the Arakanese forces aided by Portuguese mercenaries, and in alliance with the rebellious Toungoo forces, sacked Pegu. The country fell into chaos, with each region claiming a king. Portuguese mercenary Filipe de Brito e Nicote promptly rebelled against his Arakanese masters, and established Goa-backed Portuguese rule at Thanlyin in 1603.

[edit] Restored Toungoo Kingdom (Nyaungyan Restoration) (1599–1752)

While the interregnum that followed the fall of Pagan Empire lasted over 250 years (1287–1555), that following the fall of First Toungoo was relatively short-lived. One of Bayinnaung’s sons, Nyaungyan, immediately began the reunification effort, successfully restoring central authority over Upper Burma and Shan States by 1605. His successor Anaukpetlun defeated the Portuguese at Thanlyin in 1613, and by 1616, extended control down the Tenasserim coast to Tavoy (Dawei) and recovered Lan Na from the Siamese. His brother Thalun rebuilt the war torn country. He ordered the first ever census in Burmese history in 1635, which showed that the kingdom about two million people. By 1650, the three able kings–Nyaungyan, Anaukpetlun and Thalun–had successfully rebuilt a smaller but far more manageable kingdom.

More importantly, the new dynasty proceeded to create a legal and political system whose basic features would continue under the Konbaung dynasty well into the 19th century. The crown completely replaced the hereditary chieftainships with appointed governorships in the entire Irrawaddy valley, and greatly reduced the hereditary rights of Shan chiefs. It also reined in the continuous growth of monastic wealth and autonomy, giving a greater tax base. Its trade and secular administrative reforms built a prosperous economy for more than 80 years.[4] Except for a few occasional rebellions and an external war–Burma defeated Siam’s attempt to take Lan Na in 1665–the kingdom was largely at peace for the rest of the 17th century.

The kingdom entered a gradual decline, and the authority of the “palace kings” deteriorated rapidly in the 1720s. From 1724 onwards, the Manipuris began raiding the Upper Chindwin valley. In 1725, southern Lan Na (Chiang Mai) successfully revolted, leaving just northern Lan Na (Chiang Saen and Kengtung) under an increasingly nominal Burmese rule. The Manipuri raids intensified in the 1730s, reaching increasingly deeper parts of central Burma. In 1740, the Mon in Lower Burma began a rebellion, and founded the Restored Hanthawaddy Kingdom, and by 1745 controlled much of Lower Burma. The Siamese also moved their authority up the Tenasserim coast, controlling up to Martaban by 1751. Hanthawaddy invaded Upper Burma in 1750, and captured Ava in April 1752, ending the 266-year-old Toungoo dynasty.

[edit] Konbaung Dynasty (1752–1885)

Main article: Konbaung Dynasty

Konbaung Burma in early 1824

[edit] Reunification

Soon after the fall of Ava, a new dynasty rose in Shwebo to challenge the authority of Hanthawaddy. Over the next 70 years, the highly militaristic Konbaung dynasty went on to create the largest Burmese empire, second only to the empire of Bayinnaung. By 1759, King Alaungpaya‘s Konbaung forces had reunited all of Burma (and Manipur), extinguished the Mon-led Hanthawaddy dynasty once and for all, and driven out the European powers who provided arms to Hanthawaddy—the French from Thanlyin and the English from Negrais.[5]

[edit] Wars with Siam and China

The kingdom then went to war with Siam, which had occupied up the Tenasserim coast to Martaban during the Burmese civil war (1740–1757), and had provided shelter to the Mon refugees. By 1767, the Konbaung armies had subdued much of Laos and defeated Siam, sacking Ayutthaya. But they could not finish off the remaining Siamese resistance as they were forced to defend against four major invasions by Qing China (1765–1769).[6] While the Burmese defenses held in “the most disastrous frontier war the Qing dynasty had ever waged”, the Burmese were preoccupied with another impending invasion by the world’s largest empire for years. The Qing kept a heavy military lineup in the border areas for about one decade in an attempt to wage another war while imposing a ban on inter-border trade for two decades.[7]

The Siamese used the Burmese preoccupation with China to recover their lost territories by 1770, and in addition, went on to capture much of Lan Na in 1776, ending over two centuries of Burmese suzerainty over the region.[8] Burma and Siam went to war again in 1785–1787, 1792–1793, 1804, 1808–1811 and 1852–1854 but all resulted in a stalemate. After decades of war, the two countries essentially exchanged Tenasserim (to Burma) and Lan Na (to Siam).

[edit] Westward expansion and wars with British Empire

Main article: Anglo-Burmese Wars

Faced with a powerful China in the northeast and a resurgent Siam in the southeast, King Bodawpaya turned westward for expansion.[9] He conquered Arakan in 1784, annexed Manipur in 1813, and captured Assam in 1817–1819, leading to a long ill-defined border with British India. Bodawpaya’s successor King Bagyidaw was left to put down British instigated rebellions in Manipur in 1819 and Assam in 1821–1822. Cross-border raids by rebels from the British protected territories and counter-cross-border raids by the Burmese led to the First Anglo-Burmese War (1824–1826).

British soldiers dismantling cannons belonging to King Thibaw’s forces, Third Anglo-Burmese War, Ava, 27 November 1885. Photographer: Hooper, Willoughby Wallace (1837-1912)

The longest and most expensive war in British Indian history[10] ended in a decisive British victory. Burma ceded all of Bodawpaya’s western acquisitions (Arakan, Manipur and Assam) plus Tenasserim. Burma was crushed for years by repaying a large indemnity of one million pounds (then US$5 million).[11] In 1852, the British unilaterally and easily seized the Pegu province in the Second Anglo-Burmese War.[12] After the war, King Mindon tried to modernize the Burmese state and economy, and made trade and territorial concessions to stave off further British encroachments, including ceding the Karenni States to the British in 1875. Nonetheless, the British, alarmed by the consolidation of French Indo-China, annexed the remainder of the country in the Third Anglo-Burmese War in 1885, and sent the last Burmese king Thibaw and his family to exile in India.

[edit] Administrative and economic reforms

Konbaung kings extended administrative reforms first begun in the Restored Toungoo Dynasty period (1599–1752), and achieved unprecedented levels of internal control and external expansion. Konbaung kings tightened control in the low lands and reduced the hereditary privileges of Shan saophas (chiefs). Konbaung officials, particularly after 1780, began commercial reforms that increased government income and rendered it more predictable. Money economy continued to gained ground. In 1857, the crown inaugurated a full-fledged system of cash taxes and salaries, assisted by the country’s first standardized silver coinage.[6]

[edit] Culture

Cultural integration continued. For the first time in history, the Burmese language and culture came to predominate the entire Irrawaddy valley, with the Mon language and ethnicity completely eclipsed by 1830. The nearer Shan principalities adopted more lowland norms. The evolution and growth of Burmese literature and theater continued, aided by an extremely high adult male literacy rate for the era (half of all males and 5% of females).[13] Monastic and lay elites around the Konbaung kings, particularly from Bodawhpaya’s reign, also launched a major reformation of Burmese intellectual life and monastic organization and practice known as the Sudhamma Reformation. It led to amongst other things Burma’s first proper state histories.[14]

[edit] British rule

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Main article: British rule in Burma

Recorder’s Court on Sule Pagoda Road, with the Sule Pagoda at the far end, Rangoon, 1868. Photographer: J. Jackson.

Britain made Burma a province of India in 1886 with the capital at Rangoon. Traditional Burmese society was drastically altered by the demise of the monarchy and the separation of religion and state.[citation needed] Though war officially ended after only a couple of weeks, resistance continued in northern Burma until 1890, with the British finally resorting to a systematic destruction of villages and appointment of new officials to finally halt all guerrilla activity.[citation needed] The economic nature of society also changed dramatically. After the opening of the Suez Canal, the demand for Burmese rice grew and vast tracts of land were opened up for cultivation. However, in order to prepare the new land for cultivation, farmers were forced to borrow money from Indian moneylenders called chettiars at high interest rates and were often foreclosed on and evicted losing land and livestock.[citation needed] Most of the jobs also went to indentured Indian labourers, and whole villages became outlawed as they resorted to ‘dacoity’ (armed robbery).[citation needed] While the Burmese economy grew, all the power and wealth remained in the hands of several British firms, Anglo-Burmese and migrants from India.[15] The civil service was largely staffed by the Anglo-Burmese community and Indians, and Burmese were excluded almost entirely from military service.[citation needed] Though the country prospered, the Burmese people failed to reap the rewards.[citation needed] (See George Orwell’s novel Burmese Days for a fictional account of the British in Burma.). Throughout colonial rule through the mid 1960′s, the Anglo-Burmese were to dominate the country, causing discontent among the local populace.[citation needed]

By the turn of the century, a nationalist movement began to take shape in the form of Young Men’s Buddhist Associations (YMBA), modelled on the YMCA, as religious associations were allowed by the colonial authorities. They were later superseded by the General Council of Burmese Associations (GCBA) which was linked with Wunthanu athin or National Associations that sprang up in villages throughout Burma Proper.[citation needed] A new generation of Burmese leaders arose in the early twentieth century from amongst the educated classes that were permitted to go to London to study law.[citation needed] They came away from this experience with the belief that the Burmese situation could be improved through reform.[citation needed] Progressive constitutional reform in the early 1920s led to a legislature with limited powers, a university and more autonomy for Burma within the administration of India. Efforts were also undertaken to increase the representation of Burmese in the civil service. Some people began to feel that the rate of change was not fast enough and the reforms not expansive enough.[citation needed]

Vegetable stall on the roadside at the Madras Lancer Lines, Mandalay, January 1886. Photographer: Hooper, Willoughby Wallace (1837-1912)

In 1920 the first university students strike in history broke out[citation needed] in protest against the new University Act which the students believed would only benefit the elite and perpetuate colonial rule. ‘National Schools’ sprang up across the country in protest against the colonial education system, and the strike came to be commemorated as ‘National Day‘.[16] There were further strikes and anti-tax protests in the later 1920s led by the Wunthanu athins. Prominent among the political activists were Buddhist monks (pongyi), such as U Ottama and U Seinda in the Arakan who subsequently led an armed rebellion against the British and later the nationalist government after independence, and U Wisara, the first martyr of the movement to die after a protracted hunger strike in prison.[16] (One of the main thoroughfares in Yangon is named after U Wisara.) In December 1930, a local tax protest by Saya San in Tharrawaddy quickly grew into first a regional and then a national insurrection against the government. Lasting for two years, the Galon rebellion, named after the mythical bird Garuda — enemy of the Nagas i.e. the British — emblazoned on the pennants the rebels carried, required thousands of British troops to suppress along with promises of further political reform. The eventual trial of Saya San, who was executed, allowed several future national leaders, including Dr Ba Maw and U Saw, who participated in his defence, to rise to prominence.[16]

The paddle steamer Ramapoora (right) of the British India Steam Navigation Company on the Rangoon river having just arrived from Moulmein. 1895. Photographers: Watts and Skeen.

May 1930 saw the founding of the Dobama Asiayone (We Burmans Association) whose members called themselves Thakin (an ironic name as thakin means “master” in the Burmese language—rather like the Indian ‘sahib’— proclaiming that they were the true masters of the country entitled to the term usurped by the colonial masters).[16] The second university students strike in 1936 was triggered by the expulsion of Aung San and Ko Nu, leaders of the Rangoon University Students Union (RUSU), for refusing to reveal the name of the author who had written an article in their university magazine, making a scathing attack on one of the senior university officials. It spread to Mandalay leading to the formation of the All Burma Students Union (ABSU). Aung San and Nu subsequently joined the Thakin movement progressing from student to national politics.[16] The British separated Burma from India in 1937 and granted the colony a new constitution calling for a fully elected assembly, but this proved to be a divisive issue as some Burmese felt that this was a ploy to exclude them from any further Indian reforms whereas other Burmese saw any action that removed Burma from the control of India to be a positive step. Ba Maw served as the first prime minister of Burma, but he was succeeded by U Saw in 1939, who served as prime minister from 1940 until he was arrested on January 19, 1942 by the British for communicating with the Japanese.

A wave of strikes and protests that started from the oilfields of central Burma in 1938 became a general strike with far-reaching consequences. In Rangoon student protesters, after successfully picketing the Secretariat, the seat of the colonial government, were charged by the British mounted police wielding batons and killing a Rangoon University student called Aung Kyaw. In Mandalay, the police shot into a crowd of protesters led by Buddhist monks killing 17 people. The movement became known as Htaung thoun ya byei ayeidawbon (the ’1300 Revolution’ named after the Burmese calendar year),[16] and December 20, the day the first martyr Aung Kyaw fell, commemorated by students as ‘Bo Aung Kyaw Day‘.[17]

[edit] World War II and Japan

Some Burmese nationalists saw the outbreak of World War II as an opportunity to extort concessions from the British in exchange for support in the war effort. Other Burmese, such as the Thakin movement, opposed Burma’s participation in the war under any circumstances. Aung San co-founded the Communist Party of Burma (CPB) with other Thakins in August 1939.[16] Marxist literature as well as tracts from the Sinn Féin movement in Ireland had been widely circulated and read among political activists. Aung San also co-founded the People’s Revolutionary Party (PRP), renamed the Socialist Party after the World War II. He was also instrumental in founding the Bama htwet yat gaing (Freedom Bloc) by forging an alliance of the Dobama, ABSU, politically active monks and Ba Maw‘s Sinyètha (Poor Man’s) Party.[16] After the Dobama organization called for a national uprising, an arrest warrant was issued for many of the organization’s leaders including Aung San, who escaped to China. Aung San’s intention was to make contact with the Chinese Communists but he was detected by the Japanese authorities who offered him support by forming a secret intelligence unit called the Minami Kikan headed by Colonel Suzuki with the objective of closing the Burma Road and supporting a national uprising. Aung San briefly returned to Burma to enlist twenty-nine young men who went to Japan with him in order to receive military training on Hainan Island, China, and they came to be known as the “Thirty Comrades“. When the Japanese occupied Bangkok in December 1941, Aung San announced the formation of the Burma Independence Army (BIA) in anticipation of the Japanese invasion of Burma in 1942.[16]

The BIA formed a provisional government in some areas of the country in the spring of 1942, but there were differences within the Japanese leadership over the future of Burma. While Colonel Suzuki encouraged the Thirty Comrades to form a provisional government, the Japanese Military leadership had never formally accepted such a plan. Eventually the Japanese Army turned to Ba Maw to form a government. During the war in 1942, the BIA had grown in an uncontrolled manner, and in many districts officials and even criminals appointed themselves to the BIA. It was reorganised as the Burma Defence Army (BDA) under the Japanese but still headed by Aung San. While the BIA had been an irregular force, the BDA was recruited by selection and trained as a conventional army by Japanese instructors. Ba Maw was afterwards declared head of state, and his cabinet included both Aung San as War Minister and the Communist leader Thakin Than Tun as Minister of Land and Agriculture as well as the Socialist leaders Thakins Nu and Mya. When the Japanese declared Burma, in theory, independent in 1943, the Burma Defence Army (BDA) was renamed the Burma National Army (BNA).[16]

It soon became apparent that Japanese promises of independence were merely a sham and that Ba Maw was deceived. As the war turned against the Japanese, they declared Burma a fully sovereign state on August 1, 1943, but this was just another facade. Disillusioned, Aung San began negotiations with Communist leaders Thakin Than Tun and Thakin Soe, and Socialist leaders Ba Swe and Kyaw Nyein which led to the formation of the Anti-Fascist Organisation (AFO) in August 1944 at a secret meeting of the CPB,the PRP and the BNA in Pegu. The AFO was later renamed the Anti-Fascist People’s Freedom League(AFPFL).[16] Thakins Than Tun and Soe, while in Insein prison in July 1941, had co-authored the Insein Manifesto which, against the prevailing opinion in the Dobama movement, identified world fascism as the main enemy in the coming war and called for temporary cooperation with the British in a broad allied coalition which should include the Soviet Union. Soe had already gone underground to organise resistance against the Japanese occupation, and Than Tun was able to pass on Japanese intelligence to Soe, while other Communist leaders Thakins Thein Pe and Tin Shwe made contact with the exiled colonial government in Simla, India.[16]

There were informal contacts between the AFO and the Allies in 1944 and 1945 through the British organisation Force 136. On March 27, 1945 the Burma National Army rose up in a countrywide rebellion against the Japanese.[16] March 27 had been celebrated as ‘Resistance Day’ until the military renamed it ‘Tatmadaw (Armed Forces) Day’. Aung San and others subsequently began negotiations with Lord Mountbatten and officially joined the Allies as the Patriotic Burmese Forces (PBF). At the first meeting, the AFO represented itself to the British as the provisional government of Burma with Thakin Soe as Chairman and Aung San as a member of its ruling committee. The Japanese were routed from most of Burma by May 1945. Negotiations then began with the British over the disarming of the AFO and the participation of its troops in a post-war Burma Army. Some veterans had been formed into a paramilitary force under Aung San, called the Pyithu yèbaw tat or People’s Volunteer Organisation (PVO), and were openly drilling in uniform.[16] The absorption of the PBF was concluded successfully at the Kandy conference in Ceylon in September 1945.[16]

[edit] From the Japanese surrender to Aung San’s assassination

The surrender of the Japanese brought a military administration to Burma and demands to try Aung San for his involvement in a murder during military operations in 1942. Lord Mountbatten realized that this was an impossibility considering Aung San’s popular appeal.[16] After the war ended, the British Governor, Sir Reginald Dorman-Smith returned. The restored government established a political program that focused on physical reconstruction of the country and delayed discussion of independence. The AFPFL opposed the government, leading to political instability in the country. A rift had also developed in the AFPFL between the Communists and Aung San together with the Socialists over strategy, which led to Than Tun being forced to resign as general secretary in July 1946 and the expulsion of the CPB from the AFPFL the following October.[16] Dorman-Smith was replaced by Sir Hubert Rance as the new governor, and almost immediately after his appointment the Rangoon Police went on strike. The strike, starting in September 1946, then spread from the police to government employees and came close to becoming a general strike. Rance calmed the situation by meeting with Aung San and convincing him to join the Governor’s Executive Council along with other members of the AFPFL.[16] The new executive council, which now had increased credibility in the country, began negotiations for Burmese independence, which were concluded successfully in London as the Aung San-Attlee Agreement on January 27, 1947.[16] The agreement left parts of the communist and conservative branches of the AFPFL dissatisfied, however, sending the Red Flag Communists led by Thakin Soe underground and the conservatives into opposition. Aung San also succeeded in concluding an agreement with ethnic minorities for a unified Burma at the Panglong Conference on February 12, celebrated since as ‘Union Day’.[16][18] Shortly after, rebellion broke out in the Arakan led by the veteran monk U Seinda, and it began to spread to other districts.[16] The popularity of the AFPFL, now dominated by Aung San and the Socialists, was eventually confirmed when it won an overwhelming victory in the April 1947 constituent assembly elections.[16]

Then a momentous event stunned the nation on July 19, 1947. U Saw, a conservative pre-war Prime Minister of Burma, engineered the assassination of Aung San and several members of his cabinet including his eldest brother Ba Win, the father of today’s National League for Democracy exile-government leader Dr Sein Win, while meeting in the Secretariat.[16][19] July 19 has been commemorated since as Martyrs’ Day. Thakin Nu, the Socialist leader, was now asked to form a new cabinet, and he presided over Burmese independence on January 4, 1948. The popular sentiment to part with the British was so strong at the time that Burma opted not to join the British Commonwealth, unlike India or Pakistan.[16]

[edit] Independent Burma

[edit] 1948–1962

Main article: Post-Independence Burma, 1947-1962

The first years of Burmese independence were marked by successive insurgencies by the Red Flag Communists led by Thakin Soe, the White Flag Communists led by Thakin Than Tun, the Yèbaw Hpyu (White-band PVO) led by Bo La Yaung, a member of the Thirty Comrades, army rebels calling themselves the Revolutionary Burma Army (RBA) led by Communist officers Bo Zeya, Bo Yan Aung and Bo Yè Htut — all three of them members of the Thirty Comrades, Arakanese Muslims or the Mujahid, and the Karen National Union (KNU).[16]

After the Communist victory in China in 1949 remote areas of Northern Burma were for many years controlled by an army of Kuomintang (KMT) forces under the command of General Li Mi.[16]

Burma accepted foreign assistance in rebuilding the country in these early years, but continued American support for the Chinese Nationalist military presence in Burma finally resulted in the country rejecting most foreign aid, refusing to join the South-East Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO) and supporting the Bandung Conference of 1955.[16] Burma generally strove to be impartial in world affairs and was one of the first countries in the world to recognize Israel and the People’s Republic of China.

By 1958, the country was largely beginning to recover economically, but was beginning to fall apart politically due to a split in the AFPFL into two factions, one led by Thakins Nu and Tin, the other by Ba Swe and Kyaw Nyein.[16] And this despite the unexpected success of U Nu’s ‘Arms for Democracy’ offer taken up by U Seinda in the Arakan, the Pa-O, some Mon and Shan groups, but more significantly by the PVO surrendering their arms.[16] The situation however became very unstable in parliament, with U Nu surviving a no-confidence vote only with the support of the opposition National United Front (NUF), believed to have ‘crypto-communists’ amongst them.[16] Army hardliners now saw the ‘threat’ of the CPB coming to an agreement with U Nu through the NUF, and in the end U Nu ‘invited’ Army Chief of Staff General Ne Win to take over the country.[16] Over 400 ‘communist sympathisers’ were arrested, of which 153 were deported to the Coco Island in the Andaman Sea. Among them was the NUF leader Aung Than, older brother of Aung San. The Botahtaung, Kyemon and Rangoon Daily were also closed down.[16]

Ne Win’s caretaker government successfully established the situation and paved the way for new general elections in 1960 that returned U Nu’s Union Party with a large majority.[16] The situation did not remain stable for long, when the Shan Federal Movement, started by Nyaung Shwe Sawbwa Sao Shwe Thaik (the first President of independent Burma 1948-52) and aspiring to a ‘loose’ federation, was seen as a separatist movement insisting on the government honouring the right to secession in 10 years provided for by the 1947 Constitution. Ne Win had already succeeded in stripping the Shan Sawbwas of their feudal powers in exchange for comfortable pensions for life in 1959.

[edit] 1962–1988

On 2 March 1962, Ne Win, with sixteen other senior military officers, staged a coup d’état, arrested U Nu, Sao Shwe Thaik and several others, and declared a socialist state to be run by their Revolutionary Council. Sao Shwe Thaik’s son, Sao Mye Thaik, was shot dead in what was generally described as a ‘bloodless’ coup. Thibaw Sawbwa Sao Kya Seng also disappeared mysteriously after being stopped at a checkpoint near Taunggyi.[16]

A number of protests followed the coup, and initially the military’s response was mild.[20] However, on 7 July 1962, a peaceful student protest on Rangoon University campus was suppressed by the military, killing over 100 students. The next day, the army blew up the Students Union building.[16] Peace talks were convened between the RC and various armed insurgent groups in 1963, but without any breakthrough, and during the talks as well as in the aftermath of their failure, hundreds were arrested in Rangoon and elsewhere from both the right and the left of the political spectrum. All opposition parties were banned on March 28, 1964.[16] The Kachin insurgency by the Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO) had begun earlier in 1961 triggered by U Nu’s declaration of Buddhism as the state religion, and the Shan State Army (SSA), led by Sao Shwe Thaik’s wife Mahadevi and son Chao Tzang Yaunghwe, launched a rebellion in 1964 as a direct consequence of the 1962 military coup.[16]

Ne Win quickly took steps to transform Burma into his vision of a ‘socialist state’ and to isolate the country from contact with the rest of the world. A one-party system was established with his newly formed Burma Socialist Programme Party (BSPP) in complete control.[16] Commerce and industry were nationalized across the board, but the economy did not grow at first if at all as the government put too much emphasis on industrial development at the expense of agriculture. In April 1972, General Ne Win and the rest of the Revolutionary Council retired from the military, but now as U Ne Win, he continued to run the country through the BSPP. A new constitution was promulgated in January 1974 that resulted in the creation of a People’s Assembly (Pyithu Hluttaw) that held supreme legislative, executive, and judicial authority, and local People’s Councils. Ne Win became the president of the new government.[16]

Beginning in May 1974, a wave of strikes hit Rangoon and elsewhere in the country against a backdrop of corruption, inflation and food shortages, especially rice. In Rangoon workers were arrested at the Insein railway yard, and troops opened fire on workers at the Thamaing textile mill and Simmalaik dockyard.[16] In December 1974, the biggest anti-government demonstrations to date broke out over the funeral of former UN Secretary-General U Thant.[16] U Thant had been former prime minister U Nu‘s closest advisor in the 1950s and was seen as a symbol of opposition to the military regime. The Burmese people felt that U Thant was denied a state funeral that he deserved as a statesman of international stature because of his association with U Nu.

On March 23, 1976, over 100 students were arrested for holding a peaceful ceremony (Hmaing yabyei) to mark the centenary of the birth of Thakin Kodaw Hmaing who was the greatest Burmese poet and writer and nationalist leader of the 20th. century history of Burma. He had inspired a whole generation of Burmese nationalists and writers by his work mainly written in verse, fostering immense pride in their history, language and culture, and urging them to take direct action such as strikes by students and workers. It was Hmaing as leader of the mainstream Dobama who sent the Thirty Comrades abroad for military training, and after independence devoted his life to internal peace and national reconciliation until he died at the age of 88 in 1964. Hmaing lies buried in a mausoleum at the foot of the Shwedagon Pagoda.[21]

A young staff officer called Capt Ohn Kyaw Myint conspired with a few fellow officers in 1976 to assassinate Ne Win and San Yu, but the plot was uncovered and the officer tried and hanged.[16][22]

In 1978, a military operation was conducted against the Rohingya Muslims in Arakan, called the King Dragon operation, causing 250,000 refugees to flee to neighboring Bangladesh.

U Nu, after his release from prison in October 1966, had left Burma in April 1969, and formed the Parliamentary Democracy Party (PDP) the following August in Bangkok, Thailand with the former Thirty Comrades, Bo Let Ya, co-founder of the CPB and former Minister of Defence and deputy prime minister, Bo Yan Naing, and U Thwin, ex-BIA and former Minister of Trade. Another member of the Thirty Comrades, Bohmu Aung, former Minister of Defence, joined later. The fourth, Bo Setkya, who had gone underground after the 1962 coup, died in Bangkok shortly before U Nu arrived.[16] The PDP launched an armed rebellion across the Thai border from 1972 till 1978 when Bo Let Ya was killed in an attack by the Karen National Union (KNU). U Nu, Bohmu Aung and Bo Yan Naing returned to Rangoon after the 1980 amnesty.[16] Ne Win also secretly held peace talks later in 1980 with the KIO and the CPB, again ending in a deadlock as before.[16]

[edit] Crisis and 1988 Uprising

Main article: 8888 Uprising

Ne Win retired as president in 1981, but remained in power as Chairman of the BSPP until his sudden unexpected announcement to step down on July 23, 1988.[16] In the 1980s, the economy began to grow as the government relaxed restrictions on foreign aid, but by the late 1980s falling commodity prices and rising debt led to an economic crisis. This led to economic reforms in 1987-88 that relaxed socialist controls and encouraged foreign investment. This was not enough, however, to stop growing turmoil in the country, compounded by periodic ‘demonetization’ of certain bank notes in the currency, the last of which was decreed in September 1987 wiping out the savings of the vast majority of people.[16] In September 1987, Burma’s de facto ruler U Ne Win suddenly canceled certain currency notes which caused a great down-turn in the economy. The main reason for the cancellation of these notes was superstition on U Ne Win’s part, as he considered the number nine his lucky number—he only allowed 45 and 90 kyat notes, because these were divisible by nine. (BBC News Website, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/7012158.stm (Bilal Arif) Burma’s admittance to Least Developed Country status by the UN the following December highlighted its economic bankruptcy.[16]

Triggered by brutal police repression of student-led protests causing the death of over a hundred students and civilians in March and June 1988, widespread protests and demonstrations broke out on August 8 throughout the country. The military responded by firing into the crowds, alleging Communist infiltration. Violence, chaos and anarchy reigned. Civil administration had ceased to exist, and by September of that year, the country was on the verge of a revolution. The armed forces, under the nominal command of General Saw Maung staged a coup on August 8 to restore order. During the 8888 Uprising, as it became known, the military killed thousands. The military swept aside the Constitution of 1974 in favor of martial law under the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) with Saw Maung as chairman and prime minister.[16]

At a special six-hour press conference on August 5, 1989, Brig. Gen. Khin Nyunt, the SLORC Secretary 1 and chief of Military Intelligence Service (MIS), claimed that the uprising had been orchestrated by the Communist Party of Burma through its underground organisation.[23] Although there had inevitably been some underground CPB presence as well as that of ethnic insurgent groups, there was no evidence of their being in charge to any extent.[16] In fact, in March 1989, the CPB leadership was overthrown by a rebellion by the Kokang and Wa troops that it had come to depend on after losing its former strongholds in central Burma and re-establishing bases in the northeast in the late 1960s; the Communist leaders were soon forced into exile across the Chinese border.[16]

[edit] 1989–2006

The military government announced a change of name for the country in English from Burma to Myanmar in 1989. It also continued the economic reforms started by the old regime and called for a Constituent Assembly to revise the 1974 Constitution. This led to multiparty elections in May 1990 in which the National League for Democracy (NLD) won a landslide victory over the National Unity Party (NUP, the successor to the BSPP) and about a dozen smaller parties.[16] The military, however, would not let the assembly convene, and continued to hold the two leaders of the NLD, U Tin U and Aung San Suu Kyi, daughter of Aung San, under house arrest imposed on them the previous year. Burma came under increasing international pressure to convene the elected assembly, particularly after Aung San Suu Kyi was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991, and also faced economic sanctions. In April 1992 the military replaced Saw Maung with General Than Shwe.

Than Shwe released U Nu from prison and relaxed some of the restrictions on Aung San Suu Kyi’s house arrest, finally releasing her in 1995, although she was forbidden to leave Rangoon. Than Shwe also finally allowed a National Convention to meet in January 1993, but insisted that the assembly preserve a major role for the military in any future government, and suspended the convention from time to time. The NLD, fed up with the interference, walked out in late 1995, and the assembly was finally dismissed in March 1996 without producing a constitution.

During the 1990s, the military regime had also had to deal with several insurgencies by tribal minorities along its borders. General Khin Nyunt was able to negotiate cease-fire agreements that ended the fighting with the Kokang, hill tribes such as the Wa, and the Kachin, but the Karen would not negotiate. The military finally captured the main Karen base at Manerplaw in spring 1995, but there has still been no final peace settlement. Khun Sa, a major opium warlord who nominally controlled parts of Shan State, made a deal with the government in December 1995 after U.S. pressure.

After the failure of the National Convention to create a new constitution, tensions between the government and the NLD mounted, resulting in two major crackdowns on the NLD in 1996 and 1997. The SLORC was abolished in November 1997 and replaced by the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), but it was merely a cosmetic change. Continuing reports of human rights violations in Burma led the United States to intensify sanctions in 1997, and the European Union followed suit in 2000. The military placed Aung San Suu Kyi under house arrest again in September 2000 until May 2002, when her travel restrictions outside of Rangoon were also lifted. Reconciliation talks were held with the government, but these came to a stalemate and Suu Kyi was once again taken into custody in May 2003 after an ambush on her motorcade reportedly by a pro-military mob. She remains under house arrest today. The government also carried out another large-scale crackdown on the NLD, arresting many of its leaders and closing down most of its offices. The situation in Burma remains tense to this day.

In August 2003, Kyin Nyunt announced a seven-step “roadmap to democracy“, which the government claims it is in the process of implementing. There is no timetable associated with the government’s plan, or any conditionality or independent mechanism for verifying that it is moving forward. For these reasons, most Western governments and Burma’s neighbors have been skeptical and critical of the roadmap.

On February 17, 2005, the government reconvened the National Convention, for the first time since 1993, in an attempt to rewrite the Constitution. However, major pro-democracy organisations and parties, including the National League for Democracy, were barred from participating, the military allowing only selected smaller parties. It was adjourned once again in January 2006.

In November 2005, the military junta started moving the government away from Yangon to an unnamed location near Kyatpyay just outside Pyinmana, to a newly designated capital city. This public action follows a long term unofficial policy of moving critical military and government infrastructure away from Yangon to avoid a repetition of the events of 1988. On Armed Forces Day (March 27, 2006), the capital was officially named Naypyidaw Myodaw (lit. Royal City of the Seat of Kings).

In 2005, the capital city was relocated from Yangon to Naypyidaw.

In November 2006, the International Labour Organization (ILO) announced it will be seeking – at the International Court of Justice.[24] – “to prosecute members of the ruling Myanmar junta for crimes against humanity” over the continuous forced labour of its citizens by the military. According to the ILO, an estimated 800,000 people are subject to forced labour in Myanmar.[25]

[edit] 2007 anti-government protests

The 2007 Burmese anti-government protests were a series of anti-government protests that started in Burma on August 15, 2007. The immediate cause of the protests was mainly the unannounced decision of the ruling junta, the State Peace and Development Council, to remove fuel subsidies which caused the price of diesel and petrol to suddenly rise as much as 100%, and the price of compressed natural gas for buses to increase fivefold in less than a week.[26] The protest demonstrations were at first dealt with quickly and harshly by the junta, with dozens of protesters arrested and detained. Starting September 18, the protests had been led by thousands of Buddhist monks, and those protests had been allowed to proceed until a renewed government crackdown on September 26.[27] During the crack-down, there were rumors of disagreement within the Burmese military, but none were confirmed. Some news reports referred to the protests as the Saffron Revolution.[28][29]

Protesters in Yangon with a banner that reads non-violence: national movement in Burmese, in the background is Shwedagon Pagoda

On 7 February 2008, SPDC announced that a referendum for the Constitution would be held, and Elections by 2010. The Burmese constitutional referendum, 2008 was held on May 10 and promised a “discipline-flourishing democracy” for the country in the future.

[edit] Cyclone Nargis

On May 3, 2008, Cyclone Nargis devastated the country when winds of up to 215 km/h (135 mph)[30] touched land in the densely populated, rice-farming delta of the Irrawaddy Division.[31] Reports estimated that more than 130,000 people are dead or missing from Cyclone Nargis that hit the country’s Irrawaddy delta. Damage totaled to 10 billion dollars (USD); it was the worst natural disaster in Burmese history. Adds the World Food Programme, “Some villages have been almost totally eradicated and vast rice-growing areas are wiped out.”[32] The United Nations projects that as many as 1 million were left homeless; and the World Health Organization “has received reports of malaria outbreaks in the worst-affected area.”[33] Yet in the critical days following this disaster, Burma’s isolationist regime complicated recovery efforts by delaying the entry of United Nations planes delivering medicine, food, and other supplies into the Southeast Asian nation. The government’s failure to permit entry for large-scale international relief efforts was described by the United Nations as “unprecedented.”

The end @copyright Dr Iwan Suwandy 2010[34]

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