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Essays Myanmar Independence Day

Independence Day

Stone Pillar of Independence in Yangon, Myanmar.

Observed byMyanmar
SignificanceThe day of the Declaration of Independence of Myanmar (Burma)
CelebrationsSport Activities, Fairs and concerts
Date4 January

Independence Day (Burmese: လွတ်လပ်ရေးနေ့) is a national holiday observed annually in Myanmar every 4 January. The date celebrates Myanmar's Declaration of Independence from the United Kingdom on 4 January 1948.[1]


Main article: British rule in Burma

In the 19th century, following three Anglo-Burmese Wars, Burma was colonized by Britain. On 1 April 1937, Burma became a separately administered colony of Great Britain and Ba Maw the first Prime Minister and Premier of Burma. Ba Maw was an outspoken advocate for Burmese self-rule and he opposed the participation of Great Britain, and by extension Burma, in World War II. He resigned from the Legislative Assembly and was arrested for sedition. In 1940, before Japan formally entered the Second World War, Aung San formed the Burma Independence Army in Japan.

A major battleground, Burma was devastated during the Second World War. By March 1942, within months after they entered the war, Japanese troops had advanced on Rangoon and the British administration had collapsed. A Burmese Executive Administration headed by Ba Maw was established by the Japanese in August 1942. Beginning in late 1944, allied troops launched a series of offensives that led to the end of Japanese rule in July 1945. However, the battles were intense with much of Burma laid waste by the fighting.

Although many Burmese fought initially for the Japanese, some Burmese, mostly from the ethnic minorities, also served in the British Burma Army.[2] The Burma National Army and the Arakan National Army fought with the Japanese from 1942–44, but switched allegiance to the Allied side in 1945.[citation needed]

Following World War II, Aung San negotiated the Panglong Agreement with ethnic leaders that guaranteed the independence of Burma as a unified state. In 1947, Aung San became Deputy Chairman of the Executive Council of Burma, a transitional government. But in July 1947, political rivals backed by the British[3] assassinated Aung San and several cabinet members.[4]

On 4 January 1948 at 4.20 am, the nation became an independent republic, named the Union of Burma, with Sao Shwe Thaik as its first President and U Nu as its first Prime Minister. Unlike most other former British colonies and overseas territories, it did not become a member of the Commonwealth.[citation needed]


  • British governor Hubert Rance and Sao Shwe Thaik at the flag raising ceremony on 4 January 1948.

  • Image of Declaration of Independence of Burma


  1. ^"Life". 26 January 1948. 
  2. ^Fellowes-Gordon, Ian (1971). The Battle For Naw Seng's Kingdom: General Stilwel. 
  3. ^The Irrawaddy, Who killed Aung San?Archived 27 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine.
  4. ^Houtman, Gustaaf (1999). Mental Culture in Burmese Crisis Politics: Aung San Suu Kyi and the National League for Democracy. Tokyo: Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, Institute for the Study of Languages and Cultures of Asia and Africa. ISBN 4-87297-748-3. 
July 19

The Union of Myanmar, known as Burma until 1989, is bordered by China, Laos, Thailand, Bangladesh, and India.
Throughout most of the 1800s, Burma was ruled by the British. Under British rule, the Burmese people were considered second-class citizens. Over time, this led to discontent among the Asian population, and they began to organize independence movements. Toward the turn of the century, in an effort to appease the Burmese citizens, the British gave them a bit more autonomy. However, this was not enough to satisfy the Burmese. In 1930, a Burmese man named Saya San led an armed rebellion against the British. San was executed by the British, but he served as an inspiration to other Burmese.
Aung San, a student at Rangoon University, was an outspoken proponent of Burmese independence. He collaborated with the Japanese to overthrow the British empire. The Japanese promised San that if he helped to overthrow the British, they would make Burma an independent nation. With San's help, the Japanese succeeded in removing the British from power in 1942. The Japanese then ruled Burma, but it soon became clear to San that the Japanese had no intention of handing Burma back to its people. He sided with the Allies during World War II, and on March 27, 1945, he helped them remove the Japanese from power.
The British granted Burma its independence in 1947. On July 13, 1947, Aung San gave his last public speech. In this speech, he urged his fellow Burmese to mend their ways and be more disciplined. On July 19, 1947, Aung San and six of his cabinet members, including his older brother, were assassinated during an Executive Council meeting. His political adversary, U Saw, was found guilty of participating in the assassinations and was later executed for his part in the killings.
July 19 has been declared Martyr's Day, a national holiday on which the people of Myanmar remember their slain leader Aung San. On this day, the country holds a moment of silence, and a ceremony is held as family members of Aung San and the other assassinated cabinet members lay wreaths on their tombs.
Unfortunately, the promise of an independent nation was short-lived. Burma was initially a democratic republic until 1962, when General Ne Win led a military coup d'etat. Since that time, the country has been ruled by a military government. In 1990, multi-party elections were held and the main opposition won a landslide victory, but the repressive military junta refused to hand over power. The United States has refused to recognize the name Myanmar, which has been used since 1989 by the military government, and continues to use the nation's previous name, Burma.
Today, Aung San's daughter, Aung San Suu Kyi, has followed her father's lead. She is very involved in the political struggle for human rights and has called for a democratic government. She has been placed under house arrest several times. While under house arrest, she was awarded several awards for democracy and human rights, including the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991.

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