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In this Burmese name, Bogyoke is an honorific.
Aung San
အောင်ဆန်း
13 February 1915 – 19 July 1947 (aged 32)
Myanmar-Yangon-Aung San Statue.jpg
Aung San
Place of birth Natmauk, Magwe, Burma
Place of death Yangon, Burma
Allegiance Burma National Army
Anti-Fascist People's Freedom League
Rank Major General
Battles/wars World War II
This article is part of
the History of Burma series
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Bogyoke (General) Aung San (Burmese: အောင်ဆန်း; MLCTS: buil hkyup aung hcan:; IPA: [bòʊdʒoʊʔ àʊn sʰán]); 13 February 1915 – 19 July 1947) was a Burmese revolutionary, nationalist, and founder of the modern Burmese army, the Tatmadaw.

He was instrumental in bringing about Burma's independence from British colonial rule, but was assassinated six months before its final achievement. He is recognized as the leading architect of independence, and the founder of the Union of Burma. Affectionately known as "Bogyoke" (General), Aung San is still widely admired by the Burmese people, and his name is still invoked in Burmese politics to this day.

Aung San was the father of Nobel Peace laureate and opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Contents

Youth

Aung San was born to U Pha, a lawyer, and his wife Daw Suu in Natmauk, Magwe district, in central Burma in 1915. His family was already well known in the Burmese resistance movement; his great uncle Bo Min Yaung fought against the British annexation of Burma in 1886.[1][2]

Aung San received his primary education at a Buddhist monastic school in Natmauk, and secondary education at Yenangyaung High School.[3] He went to Rangoon University (now the University of Yangon) and received a B.A. degree in English Literature, Modern History, and Political Science in 1938.

Names of Aung San

  • Name at birth: Htain Lin
  • As student leader and a thakin: Aung San
  • Nom de guerre: Bo Tayza
  • Japanese Name: Omoda Monchi
  • Chinese Name: Tan Lu Sho
  • Resistance period code name: U Naung Cho
  • Contact code name with General Ne Win: Ko Set Pe.

Struggle for independence

After Aung San entered Rangoon University in 1933, he quickly became a student leader.[3] He was elected to the executive committee of the Rangoon University Students' Union (RUSU). He then became editor of their magazine Oway (Peacock's Call).[2]

In February 1936, he was threatened with expulsion from the university, along with U Nu, for refusing to reveal the name of the author of the article Hell Hound At Large, which criticized a senior University official. This led to the Second University Students' Strike and the university authorities subsequently retracted their expulsion orders. In 1938, Aung San was elected president of both the RUSU and the All-Burma Students Union (ABSU), formed after the strike spread to Mandalay.[1][2] In the same year, the government appointed him as a student representative on the Rangoon University Act Amendment Committee.

In October 1938, Aung San left his law classes and entered national politics. At this point, he was anti-British, and staunchly anti-imperialist. He became a Thakin (lord or master — a politically motivated title that proclaimed that the Burmese people were the true masters of their country, not the colonial rulers who had usurped the title for their exclusive use) when he joined the Dobama Asiayone (Our Burma Union), and acted as their general secretary until August 1940. While in this role, he helped organize a series of countrywide strikes that became known as Htaung thoun ya byei ayeidawbon (the '1300 Revolution', named after the Burmese calendar year).

He also helped found another nationalist organization, Bama-htwet-yat Gaing (the Freedom Bloc), by forming an alliance between the Dobama, the ABSU, politically active monks and Dr Ba Maw's Sinyètha (Poor Man's) Party, and became its general secretary. What remains relatively unknown is the fact that he also became a founder member and first secretary-general of the Communist Party of Burma (CPB) in August 1939. Shortly afterwards he co-founded the People's Revolutionary Party, renamed the Socialist Party after the Second World War.[2] In March 1940, he attended the Indian National Congress Assembly in Ramgarh, India. However, the government issued a warrant for his arrest due to Thakin attempts to organize a revolt against the British and he had to flee Burma.[1] He went first to China, seeking assistance from the government there[4] (China was still under nationalist government during WWII), but he was intercepted by the Japanese military occupiers in Amoy, and was convinced by them to go to Japan instead.[2]

World War II period

Whilst in Japan, the Blue Print for a Free Burma, which has been widely, but mistakenly, attributed to Aung San, was drafted.[5] In February 1941, Aung San returned to Burma, with an offer of arms and financial support from the Fumimaro Konoe government. He returned briefly to Japan to receive more military training, along with the first batch of young revolutionaries who came to be known as the Thirty Comrades.[2] On 26 December, 1941, with the help of the Minami Kikan, a secret intelligence unit formed to close the Burma Road and to support a national uprising and headed by Colonel Suzuki, he founded the Burma Independence Army (BIA) in Bangkok, Thailand (under Japanese occupation at the time).[2]

The capital of Burma, Rangoon (now Yangon), fell to the Japanese in March 1942 (as part of the Burma Campaign in World War II). The BIA formed an administration for the country under Thakin Tun Oke that operated in parallel with the Japanese military administration until the Japanese disbanded it. In July, the disbanded BIA was re-formed as the Burma Defense Army (BDA). Aung San was made a colonel and put in charge of the force.[1] He was later invited to Japan, and was presented with the Order of the Rising Sun by the Emperor.[1]

On 1 August 1943, the Japanese declared Burma to be an independent nation. Aung San was appointed War Minister, and the army was again renamed, this time as the Burma National Army (BNA).[1] Aung San became skeptical of their promises of true independence and their ability to win the war. He made plans to organize an uprising in Burma and made contact with the British authorities in India, in cooperation with Communist leaders Thakin Than Tun and Thakin Soe. On 27 March 1945, he led the BNA in a revolt against the Japanese occupiers and helped the Allies defeat the Japanese.[2] 27 March came to be commemorated as 'Resistance Day' until the military regime later renamed it 'Tatmadaw (Armed Forces) Day'.

Post-World War II

After the return of the British, who had established a military administration, the Anti-Fascist Organisation (AFO), formed in August 1944, was transformed into a united front, comprising the BNA, the Communists and the Socialists, and renamed the Anti-Fascist People's Freedom League (AFPFL). The Burma National Army was renamed the Patriotic Burmese Forces (PBF) and then gradually disarmed by the British as the Japanese were driven out of various parts of the country. The Patriotic Burmese Forces, while disbanded, were offered positions in the Burma Army under British command according to the Kandy conference agreement with Lord Louis Mountbatten in Ceylon in September 1945.[2] Aung San was offered the rank of Deputy Inspector General of the Burma Army, but he declined it in favor of becoming a civilian political leader and the military leader of the Pyithu yèbaw tat (People's Volunteer Organisation or PVO).[2]

In January 1946, Aung San became the President of the AFPFL following the return of civil government to Burma the previous October. In September, he was appointed Deputy Chairman of the Executive Council of Burma by the new British Governor Sir Hubert Rance, and was made responsible for defence and external affairs.[2] Rance and Mountbatten took a very different view from the former British Governor, Sir Reginald Dorman-Smith, and also Winston Churchill, who had called Aung San a 'traitor rebel leader'.[2] A rift had already developed inside the AFPFL between the Communists and Aung San, leading the nationalists and Socialists, which came to a head when Aung San and others accepted seats on the Executive Council, culminating in the expulsion of Thakin Than Tun and the CPB from the AFPFL.[1][2]

Aung San was to all intents and purposes Prime Minister, although he was still subject to a British veto. On January 27, 1947, Aung San and the British Prime Minister Clement Attlee signed an agreement in London guaranteeing Burma's independence within a year; Aung San had been responsible for its negotiation.[2] During the stopover in Delhi at a press conference, he stated that the Burmese wanted 'complete independence' not dominion status and that they had 'no inhibitions of any kind' about 'contemplating a violent or non-violent struggle or both' in order to achieve this, and concluded that he hoped for the best but he was prepared for the worst.[1]

He is also believed to have been responsible, in part, for the persecution of the Karen people on account of their loyalty to the British and having fought the Japanese and the BIA.[2] Dorman-Smith had in fact rejected a request for an AFPFL delegation to visit London and tried to bring Aung San to trial for his role in the murder of a village headman in 1942.[2] Two weeks after the signing of the agreement with Britain, Aung San signed an agreement at the Panglong Conference on February 12, 1947 with leaders from other national groups, expressing solidarity and support for a united Burma.[2][6] Karen representatives played a relatively minor role in the conference and, as subsequent rebellions revealed, remained alienated from the new state.

In general elections held in April 1947, the AFPFL won 176 out of 210 seats in the election for a Constituent Assembly, while the Karens won 24, the Communists 6 and Anglo-Burmans winning 4.[7] In July, Aung San convened a series of conferences at Sorrenta Villa in Rangoon to discuss the rehabilitation of Burma.

Assassination

On 19 July 1947, a gang of armed paramilitaries broke into the Secretariat Building in downtown Yangon during a meeting of the Executive Council (the shadow government established by the British in preparation for the transfer of power) and assassinated Aung San and six of his cabinet ministers, including his older brother Ba Win, father of Sein Win leader of the government-in-exile, the National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma (NCGUB). A cabinet secretary and a bodyguard were also killed. The assassination was supposedly carried out on the orders of U Saw, a rival politician and former prime minister, who was subsequently tried and hanged. However there are aspects of U Saw's trial that give rise to doubt.[8]

Family

While he was War Minister in 1942, Aung San met and married Khin Kyi, and around the same time her sister met and married Thakin Than Tun, the Communist leader. Aung San and Khin Kyi had three children. Their youngest child, Aung San Suu Kyi, is a Nobel Peace Prize laureate and leader of the Burmese Opposition, the National League for Democracy (NLD), and held under house arrest by the military regime. Their second son, Aung San Lin, died at age eight, when he drowned in an ornamental lake in the grounds of the house. The elder, Aung San Oo, is an engineer working in the United States and has disagreed with his sister's political activities. Daw Khin Kyi died on 27 December 1988.

Legacy

His place in history as the Father of Burmese Independence and a national hero is assured both from his own legacy and due to the activities of his daughter. Aung San Suu Kyi was only 2 when her father died. A martyrs' mausoleum was built at the foot of the Shwedagon Pagoda and 19 July was designated Martyr's Day (Azani nei), a public holiday. His literary work entitled "Burma's Challenge" was likewise popular.

Aung San's name had been invoked by successive Burmese governments since independence until the military regime in the 1990s tried to eradicate all traces of Aung San's memory. Nevertheless, several statues of him adorn the former capital Yangon and his portrait still has pride of place in many homes and offices throughout the country. Scott Market, Yangon's most famous, was renamed Bogyoke Market in his memory, and Commissioner Road was retitled Bogyoke Aung San Road after independence. These names have been retained. Many towns and cities in Burma have thoroughfares and parks named after him. His portrait was held up everywhere during the 8888 Uprising and used as a rallying point.[2] Following the 1988 Uprising, the government redesigned the national currency, the kyat, removing his picture and replacing it with scenes of Burmese life.

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Aung San Suu Kyi (1984). Aung San of Burma. Edinburgh: Kiscadale 1991. pp. 1,10,14,17,20,22,26,27,41,44. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r Martin Smith (1991). Burma - Insurgency and the Politics of Ethnicity. London and New Jersey: Zed Books. pp. 90,54,56,57,58,59,60,65,69,66,68,62–63,65,77,78,6. 
  3. ^ a b Maung Maung (1962). Aung San of Burma. The Hauge: Martinus Nijhoff for Yale University. pp. 22,23. 
  4. ^ Stewart, Whitney. (1997). Aung San Suu Kyi: fearless voice of Burma. Twenty-First Century Books. p. 17. ISBN 978-0-8225-4931-4
  5. ^ Gustaaf Houtman, In Kei Nemoto (ed) - Reconsidering the Japanese military occupation in Burma (1942-45) (May 30, 2007). "Aung San’s lan-zin, the Blue Print and the Japanese Occupation of Burma". Research Institute for Languages and Cultures of Asia and Africa (ILCAA), Tokyo: Tokyo University of Foreign Studies. ISBN978-4-87297. pp. 179–227. http://ghoutman.googlepages.com/houtmanAung-sanslan-zintheblueprinta.pdf. 
  6. ^ "The Panglong Agreement, 1947". Online Burma/Myanmar Library. http://www.ibiblio.org/obl/docs/panglong_agreement.htm. 
  7. ^ Appleton, G. (1947). "Burma Two Years After Liberation". International Affairs (Royal Institute of International Affairs 1944-) (Blackwell Publishing) 23 (4): 510-521. http://www.jstor.org/stable/3016561. 
  8. ^ "Who Killed Aung San? - an interview with Gen. Kyaw Zaw". The Irrawaddy. August 1997. http://www.irrawaddy.org/article.php?art_id=719. Retrieved 2006-10-29. 
  • Kin Oung. Who Killed Aung San? White Lotus, 2nd edition. ISBN 9748496686

External links

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Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Aung San (13 February 191519 July 1947) was a Burmese revolutionary, soldier, and statesman who is widely considered to be responsible for Burmese independence, even though he was assassinated six months before it was achieved. He is the father of Burmese pro-democracy figure Aung San Suu Kyi.

Sourced

  • Let us therefore join hands, Britons, Burmans and all nations alike, to build up an abiding fruitful peace over the foundations of the hard-won victory that all of us desiring progressive direction in our own affairs and in the world at large, have at long last snatched firmly and completely from the grabbing hands of Fascist barbarians, a peace, as I have said, not of the graveyard, but creative of freedom, progress and prosperity in the world.
    • Address delivered at the meeting of East and West Association held on August 29, 1945, at the City Hall of Rangoon
  • It would be consistent and proper for us to join the war for democratic freedom, only if we would likewise be assured that democratic freedom in theory as well as in practice.
    • Address delivered at the meeting of East and West Association held on August 29, 1945, at the City Hall of Rangoon
  • I am well aware that there is such a great craving in man for heroism and the heroic, and that hero worship forms not a small motif in his complex. I am also aware that, unless man believes in his own heroism and the heroism of others, he cannot achieve much or great things. We must, however, take proper care that we do not make a fetish of this cult of hero-worship, for then we will turn ourselves into votaries of false gods and prophets.
  • We cannot bank our hopes on possibilities. We must put our trust in ourselves, in our capabilities and efforts and strength and preparations not only for our success but even to avoid our own defeat.
    • Presidential address to the AFPFL Supreme Council Session (August 1946)
  • In so far as nationalism inculcates in us a sense of national and social justice which call upon us to fight any system that is oppressive or tyrannical both in our country and the world, there I am completely with nationalism. I hate Imperialism whether British or Japanese or Burmese.

External links

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Simple English

Aung San
February 13, 1915July 19, 1947
Place of birth Natmauk, Magwe, Burma
Place of death Rangoon, Burma
Allegiance Burma National Army
Anti-Fascist People's Freedom League
Rank Major General
Battles/wars World War II

Aung San (February 13 1915July 19 1947) was a Burmese revolutionary, nationalist, general, and politician. He was the father of Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.


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