Aung San – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Bogyoke (General) Aung San (Burmese: အောငျဆနျး; 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.


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).

[edit]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 April, the AFPFL won 196 out of 202 seats in the election for a Constituent Assembly. In July, Aung San convened a series of conferences at Sorrenta Villa in Rangoon to discuss the rehabilitation of Burma.



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.[7]



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.


Hero’s Gallery


Bogyoke Aung San of Burma(Myanmar)

13th February 1915

Born at Natmauk, a township in Magwe district, central Burma.


Matriculated in the “A” category with distinctions in Burmese and Pali.


Elected to the executive committee of the Rangoon University Students’ Union and became the editor of the Students’ Union Magazine.

February 1936

Expelled from the university for publication of the article “Hell Hound at Large” in the union magazine. Expulsion of Ko Aung San and Ko Nu from the university led to the university strike. Later, the government conceded strikers’ demands and retracted expulsion orders.


Elected as president of the Rangoon University Students’ Union and the All Burma Student’s Union. Appointed as a student representative in “Rangoon University Act Amendment Committee” by the government.

October 1938

Joined Dohbama Asi-ayone (“We-Burmese” Organization) and became Thakin Aung San.

1938 to August 1940

Acted as the Head Office General Secretary of Dohbama Asi-ayone.


Countrywide strikes known as Revolution of Year 1300 (Burmese calendar year).

1939 to 1940

Helped to found Bama-htwet-yat Ghine (Freedom Bloc) and became the general secretary.

March 1940

Attended Indian National Congress Assembly in Rangar?, India.


Went underground due to arrest warrant issued by the British government.

August 1940

Left for Burma and reached Amoy, China and later to Tokyo, Japan.

February 1941

Came back to Burma with offer of arms and money support from the Japanese for uprising.


Arrived in Japan for military training together with the first batch of the Thirty Comrades.

December 1941

Founded Burmese Independence Army (BIA) in Bangkok, Thailand with the help of the Japanese and became chief-of-staff Major-General Aung San (a.k.a. Bo Teza).

March 1942

Rangoon, capital of Burma, fell to the Japanese Army. The Japanese military administration took over Burma.

July 1942

Reorganized BIA and become Burma Defence Army (BDA). Appointed as Commander-in-Chief Colonel Aung San.

6th September 1942

Married with Daw Khin Kyi.

March 1943

Promoted to become Major-General Aung San of BDA.


Invited to Japan and decorated by the Emperor with “Order of the Rising Sun”.

1st August 1943

Burma was declared an independent nation and Major-General Aung San became the War Minister.


BDA was renamed as Burma National Army (BNA).

November 1943

The British troops hiding in hills of Burma received Aung San’s plan to turn his forces against the Japanese.

1st August 1944

Declared Burma’s independence status as fake in independence day anniversary speech.

August 1944

Founded Anti-Fascist Organization (AFO) and became the military leader of the organization.

27th March 1945

Burmese troops throughout the country rose up against the Japanese.

15th May 1945

Met with William Slim of the Fourteenth Army.

15th June 1945

Victory parade was held in Rangoon. The Burmese forces participated alongside the British and Allied forces.

August 1945

The Japanese forces surrendered.

August 1945

AFO was expanded and renamed as Anti-Fascist People’s Freedom League (AFPFL).


BNA was renamed as Patriotic Burmese Forces (PBF).

September 1945

Signed an agreement to merge PBF with Burma Army under British command during a meeting in Kandy, Ceylon.

October 1945

Civil government was restored with Dorman-Smith as the governor of Burma.

January 1946

Elected as president of the AFPFL.

September 1946

Appointed as Deputy Chairman of the Executive Council of Burma with portfolios for defence and external affairs.

2nd January 1947

Met with Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru of India in New Delhi, India during his way to London.

27th January 1947

Signed “Aung San–Attlee Agreement” in London guaranteeing Burma’s independence within a year.

12th February 1947

Signed “Panglong Agreement” with leaders from national groups expressing solidarity and support for united Burma in Panglong, Shan State, Burma.

April 1947

AFPFL won 196 of 202 seats in the election for a constituent assembly.

June 1947

Convened series of conferences at the Sorrenta Villa in Rangoon for rehabilitation of the country.

13th July 1947

Gave last public speech urging Burmese people to mend their ways and urge them for more discipline.

19th July 1947

Assassinated during the Executive Council meeting together with six other Councillors, including his elder brother, U Ba Win.

U Saw, a former Prime Minister, was found guilty of the abetment and executed.

4th January 1948

Burma regained its independence.


Our Bogyoke


….Defining the attitude of his party to “excluded and partially excluded areas” of Burma regarding Burma’s future constitution, he said, “We do not want to impose my settlement on the peoples of the frontier areas. We offer them the option of joining with a GREAT DEAL OF AUTONOMY. That is the POLICY of the BURMESE GOVERNMENT. But the Anti-Fascist People’s Freedom League is prepared to go further. If these people in the frontier areas like to exercise a FULL RIGHT OF SELF-DETERMINATION, they CAN do so.”

“I have been to some parts of the frontier areas myself,” he said, “and met some of their leaders, and I can say that the much-boosted propaganda about the loyalty of these frontier peoples to the British Government is not true. If this time there is a struggle for independence in Burma, I shall not be surprised if there is a wide and deep stir among these people.”…..


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