The Failure And Rebirth Of Burmese Nationalism

2230 words - 9 pages

All people in the world strive to find a sense of belonging. This sense is coupled with ethnic identities, cultural customs, and social implications. The groups that inhabit the corner of the world, now known as Myanmar, have had great struggles and upheavals through the last century. They have been stricken with World War, independence struggles, as well as military dictatorship. The Burmese groups have tried with diligence to establish their own states, but in the end all has fallen upon them and their tale is one of grief and sadness. The failure of Burmese nationalist movement is through the conflicting interests of the world, the clashes between Burmese ideology, and the differences of ethnic acceptance. However badly the movement failed, a new movement has taken form and is a blossoming root of hope for the millions of Burmese living in poverty today.
The area in Southeast Asia that contains Burma today has been a place of human life for millennium. Leaders came and went, and the usual cycle of empires, kings, and regimes passed over the people of Burma. The scene of nationalistic fervor, however, starts after the takeover of Burma by the British through the entirety of the nineteenth century (Badertscher). Like always, “the British began to permeate the ancient Burmese culture with foreign elements”, thus starting the colonial period of Burma’s history and of struggles to resist such control (“Burma”). Using a divide and conquer strategy, British command authorized minorities like the Karen group of Burmese to be “in the military and in local rural administrations” (“Burma”). This way they built resentment that is still apparent in many cases today.
The nationalist movements present globally in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries also took place in Burma. This was represented by a young law school student named, Aung San, who led the Students Union of Rangoon University to national popularity by 1935. They wanted freedom from British rule and when WWII started Aung San and 29 others, known collectively as the “Thirty Comrades” left Burma to train in Japan, hoping for liberation (“Burma”). Promises of liberation were made by Japan but after a few years, it was clear that Japan did not wish for Burmese autonomy. Recognizing this fact, Aung San hurried quickly to negotiate a deal with the British. He convinced the British to give them their national freedom if they were to fight the Japanese on behalf of the British. The allied powers won and Britain started the process of halting its operations in Burma. Aung San was hailed for his achievement of independence from Britain though the future of Burma was not to be so lucky. Even though he was seen as a controversial figure due to his communist politics, he was able to unite the minority groups of Burma and secure the writing of a constitution, agreeing to officially end British control. In July of 1947, a year before the official “independence” of Burma, Aung San and most of his...

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