Study: Myanmar (Burma)

  • THE Burma History

Myanmar is a country in the Southeast Asia that borders and frequently interacts with areas that have been great civilizations: among others, India and China. Your current neighbors include Bangladesh, Laos and Thailand. The country's cultural differences were derived mainly from the interaction of ethnicities and religions around these borders. Buddhist concepts, for example, came from India, and many Northern Myanmar groups speak Sino-Tibetan languages.

Burmese civilization developed at the foot of the Himalayas, off the river Ayeyarwady, pillar of life and the cultural and economic development of the territory. Your economy throughout history has been marked by agriculture, mainly cultivation of rice, as well as the textile trade. The unification of the territory took place during the 11th century by the Bamar ethnic group, under the leadership of King Anawratha, constituting the kingdom of Bagan, an important empire in Asia. This empire developed during much of the last millennium, mainly in the century XVI, under the command of King Bayinnaung of the Toungoo Dynasty, and during the century XVIII with king Alaungpaya, founder of the Konbaung dynasty, the last monarch to rule the Burmese territory.

This empire, warrior and expansionist, came close to establishing hegemony in Southeast Asia continental, enabling the beginning of a national feeling. The dynasty Konbaung, who reigned between 1752 e 1885, temporarily annexed the region of Zion (current thailand), during the Burmese-Siamese wars, and managed to repel two invasions, na China na Dinastia Qing (1644-1912). However, did not resist to the clash with the British empire, that spawned three wars: the first in 1854, the second in 1852, and third in 1885, resulting in the annexation of Burma, at the same year that the country became British Raj province. The British implanted a government that only had the function of maintaining order, by coercion, and preserve the economic integrity of the small European elite. At absence of a monarch to command the territory, the British needed put Burma under British India, in order to control the regional influence of Buddhist monks.

The British imposed on the Burmese society its values, ethnic, your culture and your way of production. This colonization left profound marks on Burmese society, to bring about several changes in the country's social structure, that happened to be led by a small European business elite. The economic power of colony concentrated almost entirely on capitalist entrepreneurs scots, owners of the great companies of the time, like Seetl Brothers, that used to trade rice, the lumber company Bombay Burmah Trading Company, and the largest river carrier in the world at the time, a Irrawaddy Flotilla Company. The colonial territory was flooded by the Chinese middle classes and indian; local chiefs were replaced by government bureaucrats, indians; and European entrepreneurs were employed in place of the Burmese. THE goal, in the last instance, was to prevent independentist feelings outcrop. Ethnic minorities formed the majority of the local army, O recruitment of the majority Burmese ethnicity has been banned and the recruitment of Karen ethnicities, Chin e Kachin.

Burmese, subdued by everyone sides and forming part of the base of the social pyramid have moved away from the largest centers and became mere servants in their own country. Within the much of the land has been nationalized, and the government started charging profit taxes, among other fees. The state has become secular, at social structures that supported the Sangha, that was the Buddhist leadership, were eliminated and lost their role as an element of cohesion and regulation of society. Buddhist leaders and monasteries are no longer educators of local elites, so losing space; However, did not fail to influence society.

The first social movements emerged through Buddhism and quickly radicalized because of the role coercive and Eurocentric government leadership. From 1930 at major currents of youth nationalism were realized in the creation of the DoBamar Asiayone (Burmese Association), where "do" means "we", demonstrating a feeling of collectivity and unity and “Bamar” refers to the Burma populations as a whole, including ethnic minorities. As the objective of the association was to stimulate the feeling of nationalism within the population and indirectly inspire the desire for independence, she used a motto based on three basic fundamentals, that should be respected and promoted by all the country's inhabitants. They were: 1) Burma is our parents; 2) Burmese literature is ours; 3) and the Burmese language is ours language.

Association representatives were called “Thakin”, meaning "owner" or "master", parodying a word chosen by the British for the natives to refer to imperial officials or rulers. The idea was to influence the population to change your thinking "Kyun Since ”, or slave spirit, for "Thakin Since", owner spirit. The purpose was to make the State a servant of the people.

Workers and farmers were invited to join the party, which contained many nationalist ideas and no religious influence; it was a conservative nationalist movement, on a world context marked by the expansion of communism universally. From this group the main political groups of independent Burma emerged, what else later they would dispute among themselves the supremacy of their national projects. In 1937, Aung San, pai de Aung San Suu Kyi, entered this movement, the same year that the British government promoted the separation of Burma from British Raj and granted the colony its own constitution, after a lot of pressure from the groups nationalists.

The Thakins led the first general strike in 1938, mobilizing students, workers and peasants, who started to have their own organizations and unions, seeking out greater preparation and organization of the population. Like this, still in 1938 created the Thakin party and when U Saw, creator of the Patriotic Party, ascended to government in 1941, the Thakins sided with Ba Maw, a conservative group. The big difference between the Thakins and the Patriotic Party was that the Thakins rejected any kind of government in association with the British.

When World War II exploded in Europe, in 1939, Burmese leaders proposed to bargain with the local government before providing support to England in the conflict. The battalions of the Allies were basically composed of the Burmese army, together with indian army and chinese nationalist army. When he declared support for Allies in World War II, Saw expected Churchill to raise his Burma to domain status at the end of the war, but Churchill refused to negotiate with any nationalist group. Although it did not obtain the expected consequences, the British Empire offered support for the development and reconstruction of Asia through Plan Colombo, that had to economically assist the devastated Southeast Asian countries after World War II. In this case, Aung San received a warrant from prison, but fled to China, where to seek support from radical groups communists. It also received assistance from the Japanese government, who promised to support independence from Burma. In the context of World War II, the Japanese were intent on harming the Allies, group that included the Great Britain, colonizer of Burma. Were recruited 29 Burmese young people and taken to Japan, where they received military training. One of these young people was Ni Wen, who fought alongside Aung San in the struggle for Burmese independence, later became head of state. While on 1941 the troops Japanese invaded Bangkok, in thailand, Aung San announced the formation of the Burmese Independence Army; meanwhile in 1942 the Japanese advanced towards Burmese territory, still in the hand of the British Raj. After the first Japanese advances, the British became aware of that they couldn't resist. They took, So, the strategic initiative to destroy any facility that could be occupied during the Japanese presence. During this period, Burma ended up suffering intense damage in the sectors of transport and infrastructure.

The Japanese occupied the country installing a military administration, like Birman Independece Army (BEER), formed, at first, by Burmese who lived in Bangkok, but that at that time already had approximately 15 thousand recruits. BIA has escaped the control of Japanese because of its large proportion and was involved in the destruction of villages and ethnic minorities. As the Japanese did not want a government out of your control, The BEER was restructured and became the Burmese Army, who had Aung San as commander; was when Ne Win began to gain a prominent role as head of operations for the newly created Burma National Army. Be Maw, the first Prime Minister of Burma, starting the constitution of 1937, and later, opposition leader, was appointed head of By the Japanese and Aung San formed part of his cabinet. He was chosen in place of Aung San because he had no support from Thakins, depending on, therefore, of the alliance with the Japanese government to remain in power.

 In 1943, when the Japanese realized a start of the revolt against his domination, declared Burma as a state sovereign. In fact, this government was a front, only, decisions being taken by the Japanese army. Meanwhile, in October 1943, Aung San contacted Lord Louis Mountbatten, responsible for defending the Japanese offensive on India in World War II. Mountabatten was the last Viceroy of British India, charged with promoting the independence of the Raj and Allied Commander in Southeast Asia. Aung San sought to offer you his cooperation.

In March 1945, Aung San and his army – renamed Burma's National Army (BNA) – got together finally on the British side to fight Japanese occupiers. During a war, Aung San and the Thakins created a coalition of political parties known as the Anti-Fascist Organization, with broad popular support. She more would later become the Anti-Fascist People's Freedom League.

The Japanese were defeated in the Burma in May 1945, and the British military administration and members of the pre-war government who returned from exile demanded that Aung San be tried like traitor, for commanding the Burma National Army created by Japanese government. However, Aung San had great popular support. Your prison left the Burmese people surprised and angry, ready even for a rebellion. To cool the spirits, the british government, since London graduated a new cabinet that included Aung San. Discussions for the transfer peaceful power began at that moment. The British agreed with the Burma's independence in January 1947, and in June of that year the Burmese decided to leave the British Commonwealth of Nations, a Commonwealth, created to maintain a link between the UK and its former colonies.

Pro-independence efforts were based on the “Anti-Facist People’s Freedom League” (AFPFL) as the dominant group, that had Aung San as a military leader. This group was a nationalist front that represented basically an internal alliance of Thakins with youth groups nationalists. Communist wings and AFPFL conservatives, dissatisfied with the direction taken by the agreements, formed an opposition. In July, Aung San and most of the members of his cabinet were murdered by armed men sent by U Saw, The former conservative prime minister.

A new constitution was written and, in 4 January 1948, Burma has become an independent republic and sovereign. Despite the continuing outbreak of insurgencies by ethnic minorities and by the communists who stopped the economic recovery for a few years, a plan eight-year development program was launched from 1952 with goals ambitious. Although it has not achieved all these objectives, Burma achieved great progress in infrastructure, industrialization and diversification agricultural from then on.

Mauricio Plannel, available in:

  • Aung San Suu Kyi

In this scenario Aung San Suu was born Kyi, two years before your father's murder, considered the hero of Burmese independence. In 1960 the Great Lady went to live in India when her mother, Daw Khin Kyi, was appointed ambassador in Delhi. Four years later it was study philosophy, politics and economics at Oxford University, at England, where did you meet the husband, British historian Michael Aris with who had two children: Alexander and Kim. She lived in Japan and Bhutan, and even even came to work for the United Nations, but Burma has never been far from your thoughts.

After spending most of his life in outside, Suu Kyi returned to Yangon, in 1988, to take care of your mother, what I was very sick. His return to Burma coincided with the explosion of a revolt against the twenty-six years of political repression by the military in the country and the decline of the economy. Thousands of students, workers and monks Buddhists took to the streets to demand democratic reforms. She quickly became the most effective and articulate leader of the movement against General Ne Win, that in past founded and led AFPFL together with Aung San, but who at that time ruled Burma transformed into a violent and ultranationalist state. Suu Kyi organized rallies and traveled the country calling for peaceful democratic reforms and free elections, inspired by nonviolent civil rights campaigns of Martin Luther King, us United States, and the principles of “ahimsa”, do Mahatma Ghandi, in India.

 The demonstrations were brutally suppressed by the army, who took power in a coup on the day 18 September 1988. Suu Kyi was arrested the following year, when Burmese leaders decreed martial law again, under which Burma was governed during 12 years, of 1962 up until 1974. This resulted in the suspension of all freedoms fundamental citizens, like the act of moving, to meet, to manifest opinion and not to be imprisoned without a legal basis. It is the recognized consequence of a totalitarian regime, when an authority takes control of administration of an entire state. During this period an intrusion occurred the military's activities in the national economy, in politics and in state bureaucracy. Suu Kyi was held under house arrest in Yangon during 6 years, until released in July 1995.

Years of popular pressure have led to Board to call elections in 1990. Or Suu Kyi's party, a “National Democratic League”, created in 1988, won the elections by a large majority, even though she was under house arrest. However, the military did not accept the results and remained in power. She was arrested again in September of the year 2000 while trying to travel to the city of Mandalay and suffered restrictions imposed on their circulation. In May 2002 was released unconditionally, but a year later she was arrested again, after clashes between opposition activists and pro-government protesters. In all, the Great Lady will have remained in prison for more than fifteen years.

Burma's third constitution started to be drawn in 2004, with Suu Kyi under house arrest, at National Convention, in which they participated 1074 invited delegates, representing 25 ethnic groups, which was only approved after a referendum dated May 2008. In November 2005 elections were again held that resulted again in the victory of the political legend of Suu Kyi. THE board accepted the results, but with limitations. In a maneuver to keep it away from power, the military included a clause in the constitution that stipulates that the head of state may not have any foreign family member. Target evident from this clause, Suu Kyi, married to a British man and two children same nationality, was removed from the presidency:

“Qualifications of the President and Vice-Presidents are as follows: shall he himself, one of the parents, the spouse, one of the legitimate children or their spouses not owe allegiance to a foreign power, not be subject of a foreign power or citizen of a foreign country. They shall not be persons entitled to enjoy the rights and privileges of a subject of a foreign government or citizen of a foreign country;  (CHAPTER III, pg 20).”

Besides that, due to a clause specific to the larger law, the military continues to determine one of the two vice presidents of the country, and maintain control of the Ministry of Interior and Defense , and dominance over borders;  have, still, 25% of votes as captive chain in parliament, what means control, in the last instance, of decision-making power, time for any change to the Myanmar Constitution requires more than 75% in approval, as specified in the Article 436 of the Constitution, that regulates changes to its text and demand from some parties to be changed.

 “If it is necessary to amend the provisions of Sections 1 to 48 in Chapter I, Sections 49 to 56 in Chapter II, Sections 59 and 60 in Chapter III, Sections 74, 109, 141 and 161 in Chapter IV, Sections 200, 201, 248 and 276 in Chapter V, Sections 293, 294, 305, 314 and 320 in Chapter VI, Sections 410 to 432 in Chapter XI and Sections 436 in Chapter XII of this Constitution, it shall be amended with the prior approval of more than seventy-five percent of all the representatives of the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw, after which in a nation-wide referendum only with the votes of more than half of those who are eligible to vote”

The miliares still changed the name of country for Myanmar. The old name, Burma, was derived from the word Bamar, The name of the largest ethnic group in the region. Bamar himself is believed to be derived from the name Myanma / Mranma, one of the names used for the country in 1235 CE and resuscitated by some anti-colonial independence groups in the years 20. For they, the name Myanma reflected his anti-colonial feelings for representing a time when the country ruled itself instead of being under colonial rule foreign. Thus, changing the name of the country would be essential to break with the colonial period, in addition to better reflecting ethnic diversity from the country. Suu Kyi, However, refuses to say "Myanmar", for considering that it is an imposition of the military.

Today, Aung San Suu Kyi is legally Minister of Foreign Affairs and State Counselor of Myanmar, position that was created for her in 2006. Actually, however, is the true leader of the parents. As she and the president, Htin Kyaw, are very close, he gave up the “de facto” power, since Aung San Suu Kyi has great approval popular. The formation of the new government, the first democratic, affront the government of general Ne Win, who believed that democracy was not compatible with Myanmar.

The years she lived in prison household, isolated from the outside world, without even being able to receive visits from children, or husband, who lived in England, led their story to become popularize and cross borders. Even Bono, U2 vocalist composed the song Walk On about your story. Aung San Suu Kyi received on 1991 The Nobel Prize of Peace. In your quote, The "Norwegian Nobel Committee”, pointed out that this award was given to her because she “unites deep commitment and tenacity with a vision in which the end and the means form a single unit. Its most important elements are: democracy, respect for human rights, reconciliation between groups, Nonviolence, and personal and collective discipline.” At the same time, the president of the Nobel Peace Committee, Francis Sejested, considered it an “example of the power of the oppressed”.

            There were very high expectations at respect of your government, despite the country's persistent problems. For so much, the Councilor of State had been very well prepared throughout her life, by having studied political science and worked at the United Nations, becoming symbol heroic and peaceful resistance in the face of oppression. The popularity of the Great Lady was hardly shaken in Myanmar, where it is still widely admired and followed, even being called “Mother Suu” by her supporters, who worship her.

However, your image next to international community has suffered a serious shock due to the abuses committed by the myanmar army against Rohingyas, a Muslim minority brought by the English of Bangladesh during the colonial period, who are characters of one of the biggest current migratory crises, and considered stateless.. Your “neutrality” stance on the issue, that opposes the Buddhist majority of your country to Muslim stateless persons, has been the target of severe criticism from all international community. The band U2 itself, who had released a song in your tribute, joined his detractors by posting a note on his website.

“[…]When Aung San Suu Kyi was released, we punched the air.When she came to Dublin to thank Ireland and Amnesty International, we Irish could not have been more proud. what has happened this year, and in particular these past months – this, we never imagined. […] Who could have predicted that if more than 600,000 people were fleeing from a brutal army for fear of their lives, the woman who many of us believed would have the clearest and loudest voice on the crisis would go quiet. For these atrocities against the Rohingya people to be happening on her watch blows our minds and breaks our hearts […]”

The management of the economy has also been criticized. Some analysts believe that Suu Kyi is not implementing the necessary reforms with sufficient commitment. Indeed, The infrastructure in the transport sector has not registered significant changes since colonial times and requires planning changes. Criticism says respect to their “unpreparedness” to deal with macroeconomic issues.

Despite the slow “performance” of the government, the World Bank believes that there has been economic growth in the home From 7% between the years 2015 e 2016, one of the biggest growths in Asia.


BBC UK. Lord louis montbatten. Available in: <>. Access in: 01 Apr. 2019.

BRITANNICA. Myanmar economy. Available in: <>. Access in: 01 Apr. 2019.

CONSTITUTIONNET. constitutional history of myanmar. Available in: <>. Access in: 27 mar. 2019.

THE COUNTRY. The lady of deception: a nobel of peace criticized by peers. Available in: <>. Access in: 27 mar. 2019.

THE COUNTRY. Aung san suu kyi, the hope of change in myanmar. Available in: <>. Access in: 27 mar. 2019.

ENCYCLOPEDIA BRITANNIA. Myanmar – the emergence of nationalism . Available in: <>. Access in: 26 mar. 2019.

FINDLAY, Ronald; PARK, Ex-young; VERBIEST, Jean Pierre. Myanmar: building economic foundations. Asian pacific economic literature, Australia , v. 10, n. 123, p. 42-64, jun. 2016.

HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL MUSEUM . The alliance axis in the second world war. Available in: <>. Access in: 02 Apr. 2019.

WOODMAN, Gustavus. Mental culture in burmese crisis politics: Aung San Suu Kyi and The National League for Democracy. 3 ed. Tokyo: ILCAA Studies of Languages and Cultures of Asia, 1999. 385 p.

MIN, Zaw Soe. Emergence of the dobamar asiayone and the thakins in the myanmar nacionalist movement. mar. 2009.

MOHAMED, K. et al. A historical approach to myanmar’s democratic process. Journal of asian pacific studies, Malaysia, v. 1, n. 2, p. 132-148, jan./dez. 2010.

NOBEL PRIZE. Ceremony speech Aung Sun Suu Kyi. Available in: <>. Access in: 01 Apr. 2019.

RIBEIRO, Erick. Burma's 1950: challenges and historical legacy. 1 ed. Porto Alegre: UFRGS, 2012. 96 p.

SUPER INTERESTING. Women who changed the story. Available in: <>. Access in: 25 mar. 2019.

THE NEW YORK TIMES. Burma takes another name. Available in: <>. Access in: 02 Apr. 2019.

THE NOBEL PRIZE. Aung san suu kyi – biographical . Available in: <>. Access in: 27 mar. 2019.

U2. This we never imaginated. Available in: <>. Access in: 02 Apr. 2019.

+ posts

Anne Marie Gattini Nassif is an International Relations student at the Escola Superior de Propaganda e Marketing / ESPM. Interested in learning other cultures, mainly by studying different languages. Is a volunteer attendant at the Immigrant Reference and Service Center (CRAI), in Sao Paulo, and Junior Analyst at the Center for Asian Studies and Business / NENA, from ESPM.