Fight for the pacific

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Fight for the Pacific


8. The Burmese people in the struggle for national independence and democracy

The people's liberation movement in Burma, having passed through various stages in a short time, is becoming stronger and stronger. Even during the Japanese occupation, the armed forces created by the Burmese people entered the fight against the invaders, who killed more than 200 thousand Burmese and destroyed sixteen thousand villages.

When the British colonialists returned to Burma after the capitulation of Japan, they tried to suppress the national liberation movement with bayonets and machine guns. They enlisted, as the imperialists everywhere did, former Japanese agents from the ranks of the Burmese ruling classes. But here, too, the colonialists soon had to make sure that with the help of Japanese agents and machine guns they could not suppress the national liberation movement. After the Burmese police strike that broke out in September 1946 developed into a general strike in Burma, the British colonialists became convinced of the shaky foundations they stood on in that country. They decided to resort to political maneuvers. Having promised to give Burma the status of a dominion in the near future, the British authorities created a new "state council" of Burma, in which the representatives of the Burmese Anti-Fascist League won the majority of seats. By petty concessions and tempting promises, the British won over the unstable bourgeois and feudal elements of this league.

But the popular masses in Burma have become increasingly active in defending their freedom and democracy. From the end of 1946, some areas were already covered by the insurgency. Anglo-Indian troops opposed the rebels. In this situation, in April 1947, "elections" to a constituent assembly were held in Burma. Although the compromising elements won the majority of seats in the constituent assembly, under the pressure of the masses of the people they were compelled to present to the British imperialists a number of demands which they considered too far-reaching. In 1947, the prime minister of "autonomous" Burma, General Aung San, and members of his government were assassinated by a group of terrorists. The opinion was expressed in the international press that agents of the British imperialists organized this attempt.

But the masses of the people began to move, and even significant circles of the Burmese bourgeoisie continued to demand independence for Burma. Convinced that certain concessions were indispensable, the London government agreed to grant Burma the rights of a dominion; it was compelled to recognize also Burma's right to secede from the British Empire, if she so desired. The British big bourgeoisie was convinced that the Burmese ruling strata, having seized the administrative apparatus with the help of British troops and the English colonial apparatus, would be satisfied with the rights of a dominion and would not raise the question of secession from the empire. They were wrong. The desire of the popular masses for independence was too strong, and the native bourgeoisie, trying to keep power in their hands, went on a formal separation from the British Empire, hated by all the colonial peoples. On June 17, 1947, the constituent assembly of Burma declared the country an independent republic. But the exit from the British Empire was only a formality. Behind the backs of the Burmese people, the government of bourgeois reformists, who call themselves socialists, headed by Prime Minister Ta-kin Nu, agreed with the London government on the conclusion of such a treaty, according to which "independent" Burma actually remained a British semi-colony.

According to the agreement signed on October 17, 1947, the British military mission remains in Burma; the Burmese government pledged not to invite any other military missions and instructors. In this way, the British, by the way, tried to protect themselves from the penetration of American imperialists into Burma. Against Americans and other foreigners, another clause of the treaty is directed, giving the British and Indians the right to own real estate in Burma and denying such a right to other foreigners.

The Burmese government, under this agreement, out of a debt of 690 million rupees, recognized Burma's debt to England in the amount of 490 million rupees (about 37 million pounds sterling) and undertook to pay it within 20 years. All the main mining and industrial enterprises, including oil fields, non-ferrous metal mines, forestry, rubber plantations, and power plants, remained in the hands of British capital.

The agreement signed by Takin Nu with the British government was ratified by the Burmese Parliament on January 4, 1948. It is believed that from that day Burma formally withdrew from the British Empire. Seven members of the Burmese parliament - communists - out of 255 members voted against the ratification of the treaty containing the conditions under which Burma, in fact, remained an enslaved country. Subsequently, the communists were expelled from parliament.

Deep dissatisfaction with the semi-colonial position, illusory independence, and the need to continue to work for the British exploiters and their compradors seized the Burmese people, especially the workers, the advanced elements of the intelligentsia and the working peasantry.

The unrest among the workers in 1948 quickly turned into economic and political strikes. In March 1948, a major strike broke out in Central Burma in the British oil fields. In addition to economic demands, the workers put forward the slogan of the nationalization of the oil industry. The unrest spread to other regions, embracing the peasantry as well. Expanding and intensifying, this movement against exploitation, for independence and democracy, soon developed into a guerrilla war of the masses against the government of Burma, which agreed to the virtual control of British imperialism in the country. By the autumn of 1948, significant territories in Central and Southern Burma, in the northwest and in Arakan were under the rule of the liberation forces.

The troops of the Burmese government, led by the British mission and British instructors, launched extensive military operations against the popular guerrillas, but were unable to suppress the movements. Moreover, in a number of cases, government troops and military police in whole groups began to go over to the side of the partisans. As early as June 1948, The Economist, a British monopoly magazine, expressed satisfaction with the results of the political maneuvering of British imperialism in Burma: “If we compare the state of affairs in Burma with the tense situation in which the French are in Indo-China and the Dutch in Indonesia, then we you should consider yourself lucky ” (1) .

Having entered into an agreement with the national-reformist bourgeoisie at the expense of the working masses, British imperialism acquired political compradors in Burma, but the "respite" for it proved to be short-lived. The struggle of the popular masses against the imperialist exploiters and their agents soon intensified to such an extent that on August 20, 1948, the Burmese government used the last resort in its struggle against the people—it declared martial law in the country.

Despite the joint efforts of British military advisers and the ruling classes of the country, the armed guerrilla struggle in Burma in the second half of 1948 grew increasingly more, covering new areas and drawing ever new masses of working people into its orbit.

In order to deceive the peasant masses and stop the rapid growth of discontent, the Takin Nu government in October 1948 passed in Parliament a law on the nationalization of land holdings over fifty acres and the subsequent transfer of land to the peasants. These landholdings are mainly in the hands of Indian landlords who demand compensation. The law was only a demagogic gesture, an attempt to appease the poor peasantry. Knowing how popular the idea of ​​fighting for socialism was among the working masses, even in backward Burma, Takin Nu began to juggle socialist slogans.

On September 13, 1950, the government of Burma concluded an agreement with the United States on American "assistance", that is, it agreed to the establishment of American military and economic control in Burma along with British control. According to China Monsley Review (February 1951), the treaty contains secret clauses whereby the Takin Nu government, in return for a $35 million loan from the United States, promised concessions and all sorts of rights and privileges to the American monopolies.

The anti-popular policy of the government, various reactionary measures daily exposed the bearers of this policy, and no demagogic methods could deceive the people. In February 1949, government workers and employees went on a general strike, demanding not only the maintenance of high-cost benefits, but also political demands - the creation of a democratic coalition government with the participation of the Communists. The main points of the economic program of the Communist Party of Burma are (as can be seen from the statement of the party representative at the Second Congress of the Indian Communist Party in March 1948): the provision of land to the peasants, the nationalization of the main industries and the confiscation of British enterprises.

As early as 1949, the people's partisan movement scored new great successes. In the province of Arakan, the rebels in June 1949 defeated government forces. In Central Burma, by the autumn of 1949, the people's democratic armies, formed from partisans, controlled the territory between Rangoon and Mandalay with an area of ​​up to 120 thousand square meters. A unified command of the people's democratic armed forces and a united people's democratic front were created, which included communists and other anti-imperialist organizations (2) . The British imperialists, their military mission, military advisers, and instructors leading the struggle against the Burmese people proved unable to cope with the mighty liberation movement.

In the struggle for the national independence of Burma and for democratic changes in the country, in addition to the Burmese, the Karens and other national minorities take part. As the delegate of Burma at the first session of the World Peace Council, Ko Tun Shen, declared in February 1951, after three years of bitter struggle, more than half of the population of Burma was freed from the yoke of colonial oppression.

The Burmese, like the people of other Asian countries, are active fighters for peace, freedom, and democracy. Under pressure from the Burmese people, the government of Burma is forced to maneuver, to make promises that it will adhere to the "policy of neutrality" in the struggle of the imperialists against the camp of peace and democracy. It refused to sign a separate peace treaty with Japan.

The Burmese people are waging a war of liberation with the firm conviction that the oppression of imperialism will also be overthrown in Burma, that freedom will be won by the working people of Burma, just as it was won as a result of a determined and stubborn struggle by the working people of another Asian country, China.


(1) The Economist, June 19, 1948.

(2) See Pravda, August 19, 1949