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Independence Day (Myanmar)


Photo Show: Stone Pillar of Independence in Yangon, Myanmar.

Independence Day is an annual public holiday in Myanmar on January 4th. The holidays marks the date in 1948 when Myanmar proclaimed its independence from Britain. Unlike many independence days, this is not Myanmar's National Day. That is celebrated on 10th day following the full moon of the month of Tazaungmone (late November to early December) when student riots in 1920 against British Rule are remembered.

In the 19th century, following three Anglo-Burmese Wars, Burma was colonized by Britain. On 1 April 1937, Burma became a separately administered colony of Great Britain and Ba Maw the first Prime Minister and Premier of Burma. Ba Maw was an outspoken advocate for Burmese self-rule and he opposed the participation of Great Britain, and by extension Burma, in World War II. He resigned from the Legislative Assembly and was arrested for sedition. In 1940, before Japan formally entered the Second World War, Aung San formed the Burma Independence Army in Japan.

A major battleground, Burma was devastated during the Second World War. By March 1942, within months after they entered the war, Japanese troops had advanced on Rangoon and the British administration had collapsed. A Burmese Executive Administration headed by Ba Maw was established by the Japanese in August 1942. Beginning in late 1944, allied troops launched a series of offensives that led to the end of Japanese rule in July 1945. However, the battles were intense with much of Burma laid waste by the fighting.

Although many Burmese fought initially for the Japanese, some Burmese, mostly from the ethnic minorities, also served in the British Burma Army.[2] The Burma National Army and the Arakan National Army fought with the Japanese from 1942–44, but switched allegiance to the Allied side in 1945.

Following World War II, Aung San negotiated the Panglong Agreement with ethnic leaders that guaranteed the independence of Burma as a unified state. In 1947, Aung San became Deputy Chairman of the Executive Council of Burma, a transitional government. But in July 1947, political rivals backed by the British assassinated Aung San and several cabinet members.

Photo Show: British governor Hubert Rance and Sao Shwe Thaik at the flag raising ceremony on 4 January 1948 at Stone Pillar.

On 4 January 1948 at 4.20 am, the nation became an independent republic, named the Union of Burma in which the time was chosen for its auspiciousness by an astrologer, with Sao Shwe Thaik as its first President and U Nu as its first Prime Minister. Unlike most other former British colonies and overseas territories, it did not become a member of the Commonwealth.

Festivals and traditional activities are held across the country to celebrate the date. The capital, Yangon is festooned in patriotic colours to mark the festivities. Men and women may wear the nation dress of Burma, which consists of a collarless shirt and skirt.

Sources
Independence Day (Myanmar). (December 13, 2020). 
Independence Day in Myanmar in 2021. (n.d.).

 

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