Aung San

Aung San

Infobox Military Person
name= Aung San
lived= February 13, 1915July 19, 1947
placeofbirth= Natmauk, Magwe, Burma
placeofdeath= Rangoon, Burma

caption= Aung San
allegiance= Burma National Army
Anti-Fascist People's Freedom League
rank= Major General
battles= World War II

History of MyanmarGeneral Aung San (Bogyoke Aung San) (MYname|MY=, general, and politician.

Aung San founded the modern Burmese military (the Tatmadaw) on December 26, 1942 in Bangok with the historic Thirty Comrades. He was instrumental in bringing about Burma's independence, but was assassinated six months before its final achievement. He is recognized as the leading architect of independence, and the founder of Union of Burma. Affectionately known as "Bogyoke" (General), Aung San is still widely admired by Burmese people, and his name is still invoked in Burmese politics to this day.

Aung San is the father of Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.


Aung San was born to U Pha, a lawyer and a communist, and his wife Daw Suu in Natmauk, Magwe district, in central Burma in 1915. His well-to-do family was already well known in the Burmese resistance movement; his great uncle Bo Min Yaung fought the British annexation in 1886.cite book|author=Aung San Suu Kyi|year=1984|title=Aung San of Burma|publisher=Kiscadale 1991|location=Edinburgh|pages=1,10,14,17,20,22,26,27,41,44] cite book|author=Martin Smith|year=1991|title=Burma - Insurgency and the Politics of Ethnicity|publisher=Zed Books|location=London and New Jersey|pages=90,54,56,57,58,59,60,65,69,66,68,62-63,65,77,78,6]

Aung San received his primary education at a Buddhist monastic school in Natmauk, and secondary education Yenangyaung High School.cite book|author=Maung Maung|year=1962|title=Aung San of Burma|publisher=Martinus Nijhoff for Yale University|location=The Hauge|pages=22,23] He went to College at Rangoon University.

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 Sat Pe.

truggle for independence

Aung San entered University of Yangon (then known under the British colonial name of Rangoon University) in 1933 and quickly became a student leader. 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).

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 subsequently retracted their expulsion orders. In 1938, Aung San was elected president of both the Rangoon University Students Union (RUSU) and the All-Burma Students Union (ABSU) formed after the strike spread to Mandalay. In the same year, the government appointed him as a student representative on the Rangoon University Act Amendment Committee.

Aung San received a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature, Modern History, and Political Science in 1938.

In October 1938, Aung San left his law classes and entered nationalist 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 founding 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. 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. He went first to China, seeking assistance from the communist Chinese, but he was intercepted by the Japanese military occupiers in Amoy, and was convinced by them to go to Japan instead.

World War II period

Whilst in Japan, the Blue Print for a Free Burma was drafted which has been widely, but mistakenly, attributed to Aung San. [ [ Aung San’s lan-zin, the Blue Print and the Japanese occupation of Burma by Gustaaf Houtman. In Kei Nemoto (ed) 2007 Reconsidering the Japanese military occupation in Burma (1942-45). Research Institute for Languages and Cultures of Asia and Africa (ILCAA). Tokyo: Tokyo University of Foreign Studies.ISBN978-4-87297, pp 179-227.] May 30, 2007] 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 the Thirty Comrades. In December, 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). He became chief of staff, and took on the rank of Major-General.

The capital of Burma, Rangoon, fell to the Japanese in March 1942 (as part of the Burma Campaign in World War II), and the Japanese military administration took over the country. In July, Aung San re-organized the BIA as the Burma Defense Army (BDA). He remained its commander in chief—this time as Colonel Aung San. In March 1943, he was once again promoted to the rank of Major-General. Soon afterwards, he was invited to Japan, and was presented with the Order of the Rising Sun by the Emperor.

On August 1 1943, the Japanese declared Burma to be an independent nation. Aung San was appointed War Minister, and his army was again renamed, this time as the Burma National Army (BNA). His cooperation with the Japanese authorities was to be short-lived: Aung San became skeptical of their promises of true independence and was displeased with their treatment of the Burmese people. He made secret plans to drive the Japanese out of Burma and made contact with the British authorities in India, with the help of Communist leaders Thakin Than Tun and Thakin Soe who had anticipated and warned the independence movement of the more urgent threat of fascism before the Japanese invasion. On March 27 1945 he led the BNA in a revolt against the Japanese occupiers and helped the Allies defeat the Japanese. March 27 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 Mountbatten in Ceylon in September 1945. Some of the veterans had been formed into the "Pyithu yèbaw tat" (People's Volunteer Organisation or PVO) under Aung San, a paramilitary force in uniform and openly drilling in public, which may have overcome the initial reluctance on the part of the British authorities. 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.

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. 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'. 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.

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 - he had been responsible for its negotiation. 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. He is also believed to have been responsible, in part, for the persecution of the Karen people, based on their loyalty to the British and having fought the Japanese and the BIA. 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 execution of a village headman during the war.

Two weeks later, on February 12 1947, Aung San signed an agreement at the Panglong Conference, with leaders from other national groups, expressing solidarity and support for a united Burma. [cite web|url=|title=The Panglong Agreement, 1947|publisher=Online Burma/Myanmar Library] In April, the AFPFL won 196 of 202 seats in the election for a constituent assembly. In July, Aung San convened a series of conferences at the Sorrenta Villa in Rangoon to discuss the rehabilitation of Burma.


On 19 July1947 around 10:37 AM, 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. A cabinet secretary and a bodyguard were also killed. The assassination was supposedly carried out on the orders of U Saw, a rival politician, who subsequently was tried and hanged. However, the assassination was allegedly sponsored by British who offered U Saw the prize of being a prime minister.

However there are aspects of U Saw's trial that give rise to doubt. [cite web|url=|title=Who Killed Aung San? - an interview with Gen. Kyaw Zaw|month=August | year=1997|publisher="The Irrawaddy"|accessdate=2006-10-29] The possibility of a conspiracy involving the British - a variation on this theory was given new life in an influential, but sensationalist, documentary broadcast by the BBC on the 50th anniversary of the assassination in 1997.


While he was Minister of Defence in 1942, Aung San met and married Daw Khin Kyi, and around the same time her sister met and married Thakin Than Tun, the Communist leader. Aung San and Daw Khin Kyi had three children. Aung San's youngest daughter, Aung San Suu Kyi, is a Nobel Peace Prize laureate and leader of the Burmese pro-democracy party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), which is opposed to the current military regime. His second son, Aung San Lin, died at age eight, when he drowned in an ornamental lake in the grounds of the house. The eldest, Aung San Oo, is an engineer working in the United States and opposed to his sister's political activities. Daw Khin Kyi died on December 27 1988.


Aung San's legacy provided a reference point for Burmese governments until the military regime in the 1990s tried to eradicate signs of Aung San's memory. Nevertheless, several statues of him adorn the capital, and his picture 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.. Following the 1988 Uprising, the government redesigned the national currency, the kyat, removing his picture and replacing it with scenes of Burmese life. He was only 32 when he died; a martyrs' mausoleum was built at the foot of the Shwedagon Pagoda, and 19 July was designated Martyr's Day ("Azani nei"). His place in history as the Father of Burmese Independence and a national hero continues to the present day both due to his own legacy and due to the activities of his daughter.

His literary work entitled "Burma's Challenge" was a hit among other publications.


External links

* [ Aung San Homepage]
* [ Photographs of Aung San]
* [ Lord Listowel's account of Aung San's last years and death]
* [ Aung San's resolution to the Constituent Assembly regarding the Burmese Constitution, June 16, 1947]
* [ BookRags - Aung San]
*YouTube|N003jRV75kc|Who really killed Aung San? Vol 1 BBC documentary on YouTube, July 19 1997

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