Myanmar Brief History

Myanmar Brief History


Burma, or as the country is now called Myanmar, is often called the “Golden Land”. I would like to make an addition. “The Smile and the Golden Land”. An expression that all visitors certainly agree with. You have to look for friendlier and more smiling people than those you meet in Burma!

According to Aristmarketing, Burma is an interesting, exciting and beautiful country to travel in. Here are beautiful old temples, beautiful nature, interesting minority people and a very interesting people’s life!

Myanmar history in brief / Burma history in brief

There is hardly any knowledge of the country’s prehistoric period, although archaeological excavations show that people lived here long before the birth of Christ.

The earliest known ethnic groups who left traces of significant cultures in Burma are pyu and mon who lived in the delta area of ​​Irrawaddy a few hundred years before Christ. After them came the Tibeto-Burmese peoples, ancestors of today’s Burmese. Other ethnic groups in the country today immigrated in stages from long before the birth of Christ until the end of the 18th century and lived separately from each other, so each ethnic group has developed its own culture and uniqueness.

Some important years in Burma’s history 800s (after Christ) – 1946

800 – 900- talen

During this time, the Burmese moved here from the eastern parts of the Himalayas. They soon came into conflict with the mon people. A long and bloody power struggle broke out, from which the Burmese emerged victorious

849 – 1287

In 849 AD, the Kingdom of Bagan was founded on the banks of the Ayeyarwady River. Its peak began when King Anawratha ascended the throne in 1044. The end of this era came when Kublai Khan and his Tartars invaded Burma in 1287. After this, a chaos ensued that lasted for 250 years with power struggles between different ethnic groups

16th century

During this time period, the country was reunited during the Burmese dynasty Toungoo. Constant wars weakened the empire, which was dissolved again in battles between ethnic groups where no one was strong enough to seize power.

18th century

At the end of this century, the third Burmese dynasty, Konbaung, emerged


This year the country had been conquered, and incorporated as a province of British India. The origin of the total conquest was the border conflicts that the Burmese had with the British East India Company from the beginning of the 19th century.

Tens of thousands of Indians were sent to Burma to run the economy, trade and administration. Most of the minority peoples, who had not fought against the colonial power, were rewarded with local self-government on a large scale. Many of them enlisted in British service as soldiers or became lower-ranking officials. Following the British takeover, Burma developed into the world’s leading rice exporter. The nationally self-conscious Burmese, however, resisted British colonial rule


Buddhist monks preached that colonial rule distorted human minds and therefore made the pursuit of Buddhist bliss impossible.

the 1930s

An independence movement emerged and its members called each other thakin, lord, master, a title reserved for the colonial masters. To the population, they soon became known as the Thakins. They drew their ideas from, among others, socialism and Marxism and Japanese fascism, but above all their arguments were based on Buddhist tradition


To quell the unrest and strikes that often occurred in the 1930s, against colonial rule, against Indian moneylenders and guest workers, the British tried to appease the nationalists by giving them more autonomy and this year the Burmese got their own parliament through general elections.


A Prime Minister was appointed by Parliament, but the British Governor retained extensive powers


At the outbreak of World War II, the Japanese contacted Burmese nationalists and promised them support in the struggle for independence. A group of Thakins, led by Aung San, were smuggled out of Burma and given military training by the Japanese intelligence service. These then formed the nucleus of special forces that with raids in Burma supported the Japanese invasion in 1942

After the Allies were expelled from almost the entire country, Burma was declared an independent state. But independence became only formal. In practice, Japan’s imperial army ruled, and many Burmese were forced into brutal abuses.


Britons and Burmese who allied themselves with them, under the command of the British commander in Southeast Asia Mountbatten, attacked the Japanese and this year managed to reconquer Burma. After the war, the British and Burmese came into conflict with each other when the British did not want to hand over power in an independent Burma to Aung San and the Freedom Alliance, because they were dissatisfied with the communist element in the movement. The British changed their attitude when unrest broke out and became so widespread that a general uprising threatened

Myanmar / Burma history, modern 1947 – 1999


Freedom fighter Aung San and six other leading AFPFL members who were to form part of the government of independent Burma were assassinated in a conspiracy led by conservative politician U Saw who was maneuvered away from power by the agreement between the British and the Freedom Alliance


Another AFPFL leader, Thakin Nu, took over government responsibility for independence on January 4.
Shortly after independence, the Communists launched a guerrilla war against the country’s new government, led by U Nu, one of the leaders of the independence movement, and in western Burma Muslim rebels fought for their own state.


The Karen people took up arms against the government and at the same time Chinese nationalist troops fled from Mao Zedong’s People’s Army into the northern state of Shan, where they established their own empire. In the spring, most of the countryside was out of government control, and parts of the capital Rangoon were also occasionally ruled by rebels.


Only this year did the regime control most of the country again


During the second half of this decade, the position of the government weakened, partly because it failed to resolve the land issue, despite the land reform, almost half of the peasants lacked their own land. In addition, financial difficulties had led to a deterioration in living standards. The minority people and the Communists continued the armed struggle while the ruling party was divided by personal struggles. The government also received much criticism for not making Buddhism a state religion


Prime Minister U Nu resigned and asked Parliament to appoint Commander-in-Chief General Ne Win as Prime Minister


General Ne Win returned government power to U Nu since his faction in the Freedom Alliance (AFPFL) had won the parliamentary elections
U Nu began discussions with representatives of the minority peoples about increased autonomy but the military feared that this would lead to the dissolution of the Burmese state. The officers also disapproved of U Nu’s attempts to attract foreign companies to Burma, as it went against their socialist ideas


In March, General Ne Win seized power in a military coup. Politicians were imprisoned and the military took over the administration. A “Burmese path to socialism” was introduced, which Ne Win described as a combination of Buddhism and socialism, and the Burma Socialist Program Party (BSPP) became the country’s only permitted political party.


At the beginning of this decade, the military leaders announced plans to introduce a new constitution and hand over power to a civilian government. In preparation for this, Ne Win and 20 other senior military officials formally left the army


The new constitution came into force and general elections were held for a people’s assembly. Ne Win was elected president and leader of a new, oversight body, the Prime Minister. On paper, Burma got a civilian government and some of the rulers were replaced, but in general the power was in the hands of the same group as before. For several years, Burma was almost completely isolated from the outside world


After a few years of growing economy, the situation deteriorated again at the beginning of this decade and on several occasions unrest broke out due to food shortages. The BSPP tried to solve the problems by reorganizing at the top of the party and firing thousands of party members who were not considered to have lived up to the party’s ideals. An anti-corruption campaign was also launched, but the basic problems remained


Burma was forced to apply to the UN for status as a so-called LDC country (Least Developed Country), which was granted. For many Burmese, who remembered the relative prosperity of the period before the military coup, the UN decision was a national humiliation. This contributed to the mass movement for democracy and against socialism that swept across Burma 1988-1990 and which expressed 26 years of frustration over constant price increases, lack of development and total lack of basic democratic freedoms and rights. The initiative for the protests was taken by Burma’s traditionally politically active students


In March and June, students in the capital Rangoon demonstrated against military rule, which was met with violence and many students were killed.
Ne Win was officially “retired” in July, but remained ill-fated, despite illness and old age,

A couple of short-lived governments, all of which consisted of Ne Win supporters, followed one another, while mass demonstrations in the country continued.

During nationwide unrest in July, the military is believed to have killed thousands of protesters in various places in Burma. New political groups were formed. After 30 years of exile in Britain, Aung San Suu Kyi, daughter of national hero Aung San, returned to Burma. Together with two senior soldiers, she formed the National United Front for Democracy (NUFD), which later changed its name to the National League for Democracy (NLD).

In September, a new set of generals led by Saw Maung seized power. In the days after the coup, an additional 1,000 people are estimated to have been killed and thousands of oppositionists went underground


In the spring, the military council promised to organize free elections and hand over power to a democratically appointed government. Political parties were allowed to register, but Aung San Suu Kyi was placed under house arrest during the summer and was therefore unable to run in the election.


For the election in May, more than 90 parties ran, including the loyal National Unity Party (NUP) and Aung San Suu Kyi’s NLD. In the elections, which were judged to have been entitled, won the NLD a convincing victory with about 60% of the vote, which would have given 392 of the 485 seats against 10 for the NUP
When the NLD claimed that according to the election results, to take over the government claimed military that the election did not apply to a parliament but to an assembly that would write a new constitution. The junta declared that it intended to remain in place until the new constitution had been approved by all ethnic groups. The conflict escalated during the summer and autumn and several thousand political activists were arrested


Received the Aung San Suu Kyi Nobel Peace Prize for his non-violent struggle for democracy. The ruling generals in Burma thus came under strong international pressure to release her from house arrest


In July, Aung San Suu Kyi was released from house arrest, sparking hopes for a political dialogue within the country, but every attempt at reform was followed by new setbacks. After her release, she was reinstated as the leader of the NLD


In May, the NLD held its first congress. However, the police had arrested more than 200 delegates to prevent them from participating. The party congress adopted a resolution to work out an alternative to the proposal for a new constitution presented by the military junta
Later in the year, the country was shaken again by unrest, when students at the University of Rangoon demonstrated against the regime

The constant harassment of the opposition led to the US and EU imposing limited sanctions on Burma


The conflict escalated again when hundreds of NLD members were arrested after the party announced its intention to convene a “people’s parliament” to defy the junta’s refusal to recognize the 1990 election. ”

Myanmar Brief History