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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Burma Brings off Another Sham Eelection.

HISTORY IN THE NEWS:



History never dies. It is reborn every minute of every day.

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DEDICATED TO THE ORIGINS OF CONTEMPORARY EVENTS AROUND THE WORLD.

TAG: Burma's latest election sham will only serve to galvanize a 20 year old pro-democracy opposition and an an even older raft of ethnic insurgenies against an internationally isolated military dictatorship at the end of its political resources.

IN THE NEWS:  YESTERDAY BURMA'S GENERALS RE-ELECTED THEMSELVES TO OFFICE IN A RIGGED, CEREMONIAL SHOO-IN WHERE A QUARTER OF THE SEATS WERE RESERVED FOR THE ARMY. MEANWHILE, ALL PRO-DEMOCRACY AND REFROM GROUPS AS WELL A NUMEROUS DISCONTENTED ETHNIC GROUPS HAD BOYCOTTED THE POLL OR WERE BARRED FROM VOTING LEAVING PERHAPS LESS THAN HALF THE COUNTRY ELEIGIBLE WITH EVEN FEWER BOTHERING TO CAST A BALLOT FOR FEAR OF VOTING THE WRONG WAY. THE KAREN AND OTHER ETHNIC MINORITIES WARNED THAT YET ANOTHER FAKE ELECTION COULD CAUSE CIVIL WAR AND ON SUNDAY, AS VOTES WERE BEING CAST, KAREN GUERRILLAS ATTACKED A POLICE STATION AND A POST OFFICE ON THE BURMA-THAILAND BORDER. CONFRONTATION WITH THE MILITARY SENT 20,000 REFUGEES FLEEING INTO THAILAND FOR SAFETY.


WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:  The most significant fact about Sunday's stage managed election in Burma is that the only party to win a landslide majority in the country's recent history boycotted the vote  due to impossible restrictions imposed by the military dictatorship. Democracy activist Aun San Suuu Kyi and her National League for Democracy (NLD) trounced all other candidates in 1990 before she won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991. The election was ignored by the military and she was placed under house arrest while Burma's ruler, General Saw Maung, was replaced  by General Than Shwe. Between then and 2003, Aung San Suu Kyi was released and re-arrested, the government anxious to minimize international disapproval of her confinement, yet careful to circumscribe her power. Attempts at an appearance of democracy were cobbled between then and 2007 as the government attemptted and quickly suffocated a democracy "road map" and then launched a momentous-sounding constitutional conference which ended up strengthening the dictatorship by guaranteeing seats in parliament for the military. When the government jacked up fuel prices in 2007, making life impossible for the the poor majoority, demonstrations 100,000 strong led by columns of Buddhists were violently repressed, many were killed, more were imprisoned and many Buddhist monks went missing from the monasteries. Through 2008, Aun San Suu Kyi saw her house arrest extended, and went to trial for an alleged breach fo security when an eccentric American made an unauthorised visit-  resulting in yet another extension of her house arrest. In the meantime, almost all the activists involved in the 2007 demonstratrions were formally tried and imprisoned. In 2009, the government resumed its endless war against ethnic guerilla insurgencies, mobilising a major offensive against the army of the Karen people while the US Obama administration launched its controversial policy of engagement with Burma (the Bush administration having led the West in imposing sanctions for Burma's political and human rights abuses). Early this year as Burma scheduled the elections, Aun San Suu Kyi's NLD announced a boycott of the vote while a splinter goup, the National Democratic Front (NDF) applied and was granted a permit to run in the electiios. Suu Kyi's NLD has since since disowned the BDF.


IN HISTORY:  Aun San Suu Kyi is the daughter of Aun San, the hero of Burmese independence. The shadow cast by the first Burmese statesman to adopt Western democratic ways still constitutes a sigificant threat to the present nationalist military dictatorship. Burmese national consciousness goes back to King Auanghpaya (1714-1760) who unified the state of Burma and gave it a more or less modern identity. The British took Burma after the Third Burmese War and made it a colony in 1885. In 1906. the country's young, educated Buddhists took the lead in protesting  British rule with students joining in opposition in the 1920s. Aun San rose in the Communist opposition in the 1930s and was exiled by the British. He obtained military training from the Japanese but joined the alllies in 1944, opposing the Japanese occupation of Burma for which the British made him Prime Minister in 1946. In 1947 he negotiated Burmese independence but was assassinated the same year by members of the Burmese military. Prime Minister U Nu ruled during the 1950s before his military chief U Ne Win took power in a coup d'etat in 1961 ending the enlightened course set by Aun San and inaugurating 50 years of dictatorship cloaked by an ideology  known as "The Burmese Way To Socialism," a militaristic concoction of Marxism, nationalism and, apparently, Buddhism- disguising what has become a larcenous and grossly incompetent oligarchy. Business was nationalized and the merchant classes repressed with Burma firmally declaring itself a one-party Socialist state in 1974. By 1988 state planning had so crippled the economy that Aun San's daughter, Aun Aun Sii Kyi returned from the safety of living abroad to head an angry opposition, campaigning for democracy and non-violent change. The 1988 protests at the Sule Pagoda ended with 3,000 killed by the military. At the top, meanwhile, General  Saw Maung overthrew General U Ne Win, imposed martial law and banned Aun San Suu Kyi from holding office. That was when she mobilised her party for the 1990 elections.


RELEVANT DATES:


Colonial Burma
1885- Third Anglo-Burmese War ends in British occupation of Upper Burma.
1886- Britain annexes Burma to British India.
1906- the Young Men’s Buddhist Association is formed in reaction to British opposition to the prominence of Buddhism in Burmese society.
1920- just after the foundation of the University of Rangoon, student opposition to British increases into a student strike.

1930s- U Ne Win a nationalist, anti-British activist.

1937- the British bring the Government of Burma Act into force, governing Burma as a colony separate from India with a bicameral legislature.


World War Two: Aung San defects to Japanese


1938-40- Aung San becomes secretary of the nationalist Dobama Asiayone movement.
1939-40- Aung San is president of the Communist Party of Burma..
1940- Aung San is sent into exile. He undergoes military training with the Japanese.
1942-45- World War Two- Burma is occupied by the Japanese. The British fight the Burma Campaign against the Japanese and their Burma Army allies.

World War Two: Aung San turns against the Japanese. 
1944- Aung San contacts Viscount Mountbatten. In March- Aung San, the Burmese Republican Parry and the Communists turn against the Japanese as the anti-Fascist People’s Freedom League (AFPFL). Aung San becomes president.
May 17- Burma recaptured by the allies.
1946- Un Nu becomes president of the Burmese Constituent Assembly

The Allied Victory: Aung San heads a Liberated Burma. Aung San become Prime Minister in the Governor’s Executive Council.

Aung San assassinated leading Burma to Independence.
1947- in London, Aung San negotiates Burma’s independence and conceives the new Burmese Constitution.
1947- Aung San Assassinated
1948- Jan 4- Burma formally attains independence.
1948-56- U (Thakin) Nu of AFPFL is Prime Minister- (1907-1995) U Ne Win holds senior military and cabinet posts.

Army takes Power Under U Ne Win and his "Burmese Way to Socialism."

1962- military chief U Ne Win overthrows Prime Minister U Nu. U Ne Win becomes chairman of the revolutionary Council, bans parliament. Ne Win pursues isolationism and a Burmese ideology- “the Burmese Way to Socialism’, a combination of Buddhism, Marxism and nationalism. Burma maintains relations solely with China.

Aung Dan Suu Kyi, Daughter of Aun San found National League for Democracy.

1988- riots due to a growing economic crisis, break out in Rangoon. They are centred around Sule Pagoda. Security Forces kill 3000 protesters.
-Aung San Suu Kyi, daughter of Aung San, returns to Burma to care for her dying mother. She co-founds the National League for Democracy and becomes its General Secretary. She makes it into a mass movement for non-violent change.

Dictatorship Hardens as General Saw Maung ousts Nu Win.
-General Saw Maung overthrows Nu Win in a military coup and imposes martial law.
-the government’s State Law and Order Restoration Council imposes martial law and imprisonment without trial, bans public meetings and prohibits Aung Suu Kyi from holding office.

Aung San Suu Kyi Launches Activism, winds 1990 Election Landslide, wins Nobel Prize.
-Aung San Suu Kyi defies the government and tours the country, giving talks.
- the military junta places Aung San Suu Kyi under house arrest.

1990- Aung San Suu Ky’s National league for Democracy wins80 % of the vote in elections. Many new MPs are jailed. The military’s own party gains only 10 seats.

 General Than Shwe replaces Saw Maoung, Ignores Vote and Cracks Down on NLD.
-Government Ignores NLD Victory; repression continues.
-1991- Aun San Suu Kyi is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
-1992- Maung’s deputy, General Than Shwe, replaces Maung as ruler.

Beginning of Aung San Suu Ky'as Houe Arrest.
-1995- 10 July- Aun San Suu Kyi is released. But she is not allowed to move outside the capital, Rangoon.

-2000- Aun San Suu Kyi is put back under house arrest.
-2003- May- Aun San Suu Kyi taken into protective custody after clashes between her NLD and the government.

Repression of Prime Minister Khin Nyunt and his Democracy Road Map.
-2004-August – Khin Nyunt becomes Prime Minister. He proposes a convention for a road map to democracy.
October- Prime Minister Nyunt is placed under house arrest after a power struggle.
2005- February- Constitutional talks last the whole year without representation from opposition groups. There is no result.

Renweal of Aung San Suu Kyi's House Arrest as Generals work on So-Called Constitution.
2007- May- another year is added to Aung San Suu Kyi’s house arrest.
September- the government ends the Constitutional Convention after declaring constitutional talks complete.
-mass public demonstrations and protests after the government raises fuel prices

Buddhist-led mass Demonstrations Bloodily Repressed by Military.

Sept 23- 20,000 protest against ruling junta growing to 100,000 on 24th, led by columns of monks.
October, 2007 -demonsrrations end in Rangoon, normality returns. Monks entirely absent, believed to to have been imprisoned.

Junta begins work on a Constitution that will cut short Democracy.

Feb 12, 2008- followers of Aung An Sii Kyi protest government plan for a consititution that will entrench present military rule.

April 2008- Government tables new constition which reserves one quarter of seats in parliament for the military and bans leader of the opposition Aung San Suu Kyi from holding office. A referendum is tabled for May 10.

April 2, 2008- Aung San Suu Kyi's opposition party protests anti-democratic constitution.
May- referendum proceeds amid humanitarian crisis following cyclone. Government says 92% voted in favour of draft constitution and insists it can cope with cyclone aftermath without foreign help.


More Extensions of House Arrest for Aung San Suu Kyi.
2008- May 27- junta extends Aung San Suu Kyi's detention by another year.
2008- Sept. Aung San Suu Kyi goes on hunger strike.

2008 November 11-28  close to 80 political activists, including jounralists and monks, given sentences of up to 65 years in series of secretive trials.
2008- Sept. Aung San Suu Kyi goes on hunger strike.

2008 November 11-28  close to 80 political activists, including jounralists and monks, given sentences of up to 65 years in series of secretive trials.

2009 August - Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi is convicted of breaching the conditions of her house arrest, following a visit by uninvited US national John Yattaw in May. The initial sentence of three years' imprisonment is commuted to 18 months' house arrest.


Military Offensive Against Armed Karen Guerillas
June 5-6- 2009- military renews routine offensive against  Karen insurgents and ethnic group


2009 August - Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi is convicted of breaching the conditions of her house arrest, following a visit by uninvited US national John Yattaw in May. The initial sentence of three years' imprisonment is commuted to 18 months' house arrest.

US Obama government begins new policy of engagement with Burma.

Sept 29-  Obama government signals new direction or engagement on Burma as US assistant Secretary of State meets with Burma's minister of science, technology and lanbour.

2009 October - Aung San Suu Kyi begins talks with Burma's military leaders and is allowed to meet Western diplomats in move encouraged by US.

 Government Announces 2010 Elections; Protests from Aun San and NLD.
2010- January- Junta announces elections for some time in 2010.  


-March - Government announces that long-awaited election laws have been passed, with provisions for an electoral commission hand-picked by the junta.


March - Aung San Suu Ki and her NLD opposition party anounce boycott of 2010 elections.

April 29- Aung San Suu Kyi launches law suit in supreme court over election laws that could ban her NLD party.


NDF Splits from Aun San Suu Kyi's NLD.

May 7, 2010- NDF faction of the NLD says it will form a party to run in elections.
July 10, 2010- NDF faction receives permit to run in elections.

-NLD decides to boycott elections. NDF- National Democratic Front secedes from NDF, obtains permit to run in elections.

-August - General elections set for 7 November. Senior officials step down to stand as candidates.



CONTENTS: SCROLL DOWN FOR:
DISTANT BACKGROUND TO THE EVENTS
RECENT BACKGROUND TO THE EVENTS
REMOTE BACKGROUND TO THE EVENTS

LOCATION OF NOTE:

PROFILE:
CROSS-CENTURY SUMMARY

PLUS CA CHANGE
TIMELINE FOR THE HISTORY OF BURMA


DISTANT BACKGROUND TO THE EVENTS, Between 1824 and 1885 the British subdued Burma in three successive wars before annexing it to British India in 1886. From the turn of the century until World War Two, a powerful anti-colonial, student nationalist movement, often inspired or backed by Buddhists, got under way. Prominent were future nationalist leaders U Nu and Aung San. The British imprisoned U Nu and sent Aung San into exile. During World War II, U Nu was freed during Japan's invasion of Burma. Both Aung San and U Nu collaborated with the Japanese against the British using Aung San's Burma Independence Army, led by his military chief, U Ne Win. As the Japanese began to lose the war, both Aung San and U Nu went over to the allies. With the allies victorious, Aung San headed a provisional government and in 1947 he negotiated Burma's independence from Britain. But in July of the same year he and five members of his government were assassinated by U Saw, a political rival. So died Burma's only unifying political figure. Throughout the 1950s, U Nu led the country with U Ne Win as his military chief, only to have U Ne Win take power in a coup in 1962.

Burma's present probems began when U Ne Win proceeded to make himself chairman of a Revolutionary Council and banned parliament. The radical isolation of the Burmese nation that continues today got under way when Ne Win promulgated an ultra-natioanlist ideology- “the Burmese Way to Socialism", a combination of Buddhism, Marxism, nationalism and isolationism. The only country with which Burma maintained relations was China. Following his xenophobic ideas, U Ne Win expelled the Chinese and Indian traders who comprised Burma's middle class, thus breaking the back of the economy. Though he left office in 1971, U Ne Win managed to keep a stranglehold on all power and decision-making through his Burmese Socialist Program Party.

So broken was the economy that riots exploded in 1988, the same year that Aung San Suu Kyi the daughter of the revered founding father, Aung San, returned to Burma. The army dealt with the protests by killing three thousand. Meanwhile, Aung San Suu Kyi founded the opposition movement, the National League for Democracy. Saw Maung, one of the triumverate of Generals who presently rules Burma, used the occasion to overthrow U Ne Win, set up a new dictatorship and rename the country Myanmar.


RECENT BACKGROUND TO THE EVENTS. Relentless campaigning by democracy actitvist Aung San Suu Kyi resulted in her National League for Democracy gainning an 80% landslide in the elections of 1990. She won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991. Meanwhile, the government of Saw Maung ignored the vote and all that transpired was Saw Maung's demotion in 1992 in favour of General Than Shwe who rules to this day. Throughout the 1990s, the National League for Democracy held repeated demonstrations and clashed with security forces. Aung San Suu Kyi herself was either under house arrest or under close surveillance, her freedom strictly limited. Briefly, in 2003, Prime Minister Khin Nyunt attempted to lay down a road map for democracy but he was put under house arrest after a power struggle. A Constitutional "convention" sputtered on within the confines of the leadership and has had no notable outcome. In 2006, Than Shwe, suddenly and with seeming arbitrariness moved the capital to the remote, inland region of May Pyi Taw. In the UN, western powers moved to bring pressure to bear on Burma for the improvement of human rights but the move was vetoed by Russia and China. In May 2007, Aung San Suu Kyi, already several years back under house arrest had another year added to her confinement.

In early September 2007, a 500% hike on fuel prices pushes the Burmese beyond endurance- a population that has never really recovered or seen relief from the blundering, ideologically inspired "Burmese Socialism" of 1962. Protests led by columns of Buddhist monks rise from 4,000 to a hundred thousand. The junta cuts off the internet in a tardy attempt to prevent images and reports from reaching the world before security forces crack dorwn, britalizing and detaining thousands and emptying the monesteries with monks disappearing, apparently, to detainment camps. The International protest meanwhile, is largely symbolic, with a UN representative obtaining an interview between Aung San Suu Kyi and a member of the junta.

By February 2008, the junta has got down to work on a constitution designed to curtail any effective democracy, outlawing the particpation of Aung Aan Suu Kyi and reserving a bloc of untouchable seats in parliament for the military.

Like a judgement of God, Cyclone Nargis hits on May 8, killing up to 133,000. As official recue efforts flounder, the military is exposed as incompetent and self-interested. The UN and intenrational agencies do the heavy lifting, resucing thousands, while junta officers re-label foreign aid deliveries with the names of Burmese generals in a craven attempt at government self-promotion.

 In May Aung Dan Suu Kyi's house arrest is extended for the upteenth time as her NLD oppositiion, forgoing hoped for democracy, begins to transform itself into a protest movement. Meawhile, long setnences are handed out to dozens convicted of subversion in the September protests. In March, 2009, the government clamps down further on the NLD and a visit by an eccentric American to Aung San Suu Kyi's island of house arrest provides the junta with a pretext for arresting her and putting on trial.

In early 2009, the Obama government begins a move toward engagement with Burma with meeting between high officials from both countries' foreign ministries. Meanwhile, the NLD, comntinued its boycott of the 2010 elections unless the government makes them free and fair, allows international observers and frees political prisoners. Throughout the summer offensives continue against Karen rebels and rebels in the northeast which are driven into China.

August witnesses Aung Sun Suu Kyi's trial for allowing an American visitor and sentences her to prison, commuted once more to house arrest as the Obama government makes a further approach with meeting between the US Assistant Secretary of State and Burma's minister of science, technology and labour. This paves the way in October for Burmese government meetings with Aung Aan Suu Ky as well as meetings of western diplomats with the interned opposition leader.

2010 brings in the Junta's announcement of new elections within the year with an automatic boycott announced by Aung San Suu Kyi and her NLD party which declares in may that it will resume as an opposition movement, even if it is banned under election law. One faction of the NLD, in July, decides to partitcipate in the elections.

In an alarming develoment, a retired nuclear weapons inspector anounces on July 4 the existence of documentary evidence that Burma is trying to develop a nuclear weapon. And indeed, on July 30, secret talks between Burma and North Korea are carefully monitored by Washington. On August 14, meanwhile, the EU warns that the world will not recognize the upcoming Burmese elections until they are seen to be open, free and fair.

 REMOTE BACKGROUND TO THE EVENTS. In the 9th century the early Burmese state of Pagan emerged where south-east Asia, borders on the Indian subcontinent. Over the centuries, the main cultural influences would prove to be more Indian than Chinese. In the eleventh century the great king, Anawratha founded the state of Pagan and expanded its borders. In the same period, Theravada Buddhism from Sri Lanka took root in the region. The Mongol conquests which subdued Pagan in the latter thirteenth century, mark off ancient Pagan from a new period in which Burma had to begin again. In the late Middle Ages, the region was ruled by warlords and wracked by internal dissension and war with Siam until the 18th century. In 1752, the Toungoo dynasty fell and the Konbaung dynasty was founded by King Aluanghpaya (1714-1760), the founder of modern Burma. Burma had perhaps another sixty years of ascendancy before 1824 when the British began their campaign to subdue the country and attach it to British India.

LOCATION OF NOTE: The Shwedagon Pagoda in Rangoon. A focal point of he monks' protests the Shwedagon Pagoda is a stupa-style temple, believed by archaeologists to have been built at some point around the 7th century when the state of Pagan first arose. The pagoda was the work of the Mon people, an ancient ethnic group which is still at odds with the Burmese state. This is a sensitive matter, however, because Burmese monastic tradition holds that the temple dates back to the time of Buddha in the fifth century BCE, and in fact, a detailed legend involving Buddha himself is attached to the temple. Throughout the 14th century Mon monarchs rebuilt the stupa each time increasing its height in what was seen as an act of sanctity. In 1608, the pagoda was plundered by the Portugeuse. In 1768 an earthquake damaged the temple and the stupa was restored to its present state by King Hsinbyushin. The British occupied the Shwedagon Pagoda in 1824, and, treating it with little respect, used it as a fortress. It took the British until 1919 to agree to a regulation not to wear shoes in the Pagoda precincts out of respect for Buddhist tradition. During the second Anglo Burmese War of 1852, the British occupied the Pagoda again and this time did not leave until 1929. The stupa has been a site of protest at least since 1920, when students gathered there to protest the Universities Act which they saw as an instrument of colonialism. In 1938- the temple was the site of a camp for striking oil workers. In 1946 Aung San held his mass rally for independence at the Shwedagon and his daughter Aung San Suu Kyi held her really during the infaous 1988 crackdown at the temple.

PROFILE: Aung San, (1915-1947) founder of modern Burma and father of Aung San Suu Kyi. As a student, Aung San organized the student strike of 1936, leading the the All-Burma Student's Union until 1938 when he became the general secretary of the nationalist movement. In 1939 he joined the Communist Party, the British forcing him into exile in 1940. He trained with the Japanese army and returned with Japan's invasion of Burma in 1942, leading his own corps, the Burma national Army. After holding a post under the Japanese occupation, he turned against Japan and joined the allies. Upon the Allied victory, he formed the Anti-Fascist People's Freedom League and led a provisional governing Council of Ministers after the war. In 1947, he had worked out a constitution along with Burma's independence from the British when he was assassinated along with five colleagues.

CROSS-CENTURY SUMMARY: Burma's History can be divided roughly in five: an early history before the Mongol invasions of the thirteenth century, a long period of invasion and internal dissension until the eighteenth century followed by a high period after 1752 when the country was unified by King Auanghpay. There follows the British colonial period of 1824-1947 and finally a modern period of independence to the present day. The short period of the rule of King Auanghpay, after Burma's three-century recovery from the Mongol invasions, appears to the only time when the country knew historical "greatness." This might explain, at least in part, the introversion and single-mindedness with which Burma's rulers have attempted, however desperately and artificially, to manufacture a national legacy.

EYE-WITNESS: George Orwell, when he was a British colonial policeman in Burma: "In Moulmein in Lower Burma, I was hated by large numbers of people...The young Bhuddist priests were the worst of all. There were several thousands of them in the town and none of them seemed to have anything to do except stand on street corners and jeer at Europeans...With one part of my mind I thought of the British Raj as an unbreakable tyranny, as something clamped down, in saecula saeculorum, upon the will or prostrate peoples; with another part I thought that the greatest joy in the world would be to drive a bayonet into a Buddhist priest's guts. Feelings like these are the normal by-products of imperialism; ask any Anglo-Indian official, if you can catch him off-duty." -George Orwell, "Shooting an Elephant."

PRESENT SITUATION: The crackdown on the monks and their fellow protesters continues in cities throughout Burma. Cell-phone video images and the internet have gotten around total state censorship to provid a picture of growing police brutality. At least eight protesters and monks are reported to have been killed by security forces. Police have surrounded several temples and Buddhist monks are being placed under arrest. The continuing protest is regularly compared with he 1988 confrontation in which 3,000 were killed. The difference this time seems to be the extent of the participation and determination of the monks together with the regime's reluctance to commit the military- whose loyalties may this time be in doubt. As of September 28, security forces have surrounded Buddhist temples throughout the country and arrested many of the monks who are now absent from the demonstrations. Protests continue but they are flagging.

PLUS CA CHANGE: In 1940, Aung San was sent into exile by the British. In 1942, he returned, having sided with the Japanese invasion. His daughter, Aung San Suu Kyi, likewise returned at a proptitious moment- the 1988 mass protests which were the first serious challenge to the tyranny begun by U Ne Win in 1962.

TIMELINE FOR THE HISTORY OF BURMA/MYANMAR:
(with some items thanks to BBC News)

Ancient Pagan.

-culturally, medieval Burma and the surrounding region are an extension of India.

849- the founding state of Pagan emerges where the Irrawaddy River bends east.

1044-1077- Pagan unified for the first time Anawratha, annexing territory to the north and the south on the Gulf of Martaban and the isthmus of Kra.

1057-1059- Anawratha repels attempts at invasion by the Khmer.

-Theravada Buddhism from Sri Lanka takes root in Pagan.

-Pagan will become noted for its extraordinary temples of which 2,000 still stand.

1250 (cirica) with the surrounding region, Pagan shares the Indian Dejarava temple state system which places an immense burden on the center of power: the state’s heavy religious donations for temple artisans and rice field irrigation weakens its ability to rule.

Fall of Pagan to the Mongols.

1252- the Thai Shan people of upper Burma and Thailand become vassals of the Mongols.

-Thais fleeing southward bring Thai Warlords who set up in Pagan

-Burmese and Thai warlords adopt Theravada Buddhism.

1287- invasions by the Shan and by Kublai Khan end in the collapse of Pagan.

Burma Barely Restored.

1486- second Burmese dynasty established.

1500- internal dissension and wars with Siam will last throughout the 16th century.

Auanghpaya Founds Modern Burma

1752- fall of the restored Toungoo dynasty. Konbaung dynasty founded by King Aluanghpaya (1714-1760)

-through great resourcefulness, Auanghpaya restores the state from rival groups and powers of the old order.

1757- the last point of resistance, Pegu, falls to forces led by Auanghpaya

1760- Burma's Auanghaya fails in an attempted attack on the Thai capital of Ayudhya, to the east. He dies of wounds incurred during the assault.

The Arrival of the British: the Anglo-Burmese Wars,

1824-1826- First Anglo-Burmese War brings Arakan and Tehnasserim under control of the British.

1824-1885- the Anglo-Burmese wars.

1852-1853- Second Anglo-Burmese War results in British occupation of Pego.

1885- Third Anglo-Burmese War ends in British occupation of Upper Burma.

1886- Britain annexes Province of Burma to British India.

Reaction Against the British Opposition to Buddhism.

1906- the Young Men’s Buddhist Association is formed in reaction to British opposition to the prominence of Buddhism on Burmese society.

1920- the Buddhist Association is succeeded by the General Council of Burmese Associations.

1920- just after the foundation of the University of Rangoon, student opposition to British increases into a student strike.

1930s- U Ne Win a nationalist, anti-British activist.

1935- the British form the Government of Burma Act- in principle. Aung San enrolls in Rangoon University.

1936- strike by the anti-British student opposition. All Burma Studnets Union is led by Aung San.

Rejection of Britain’s ‘Government of Burma Act’. The Rise of Burmese Nationalism

1937- the British bring the Government of Burma Act into force, governing Burma as a colony separate from India with a bicameral legislature.


1938-40- Aung San becomes secretary of the nationalist Dobama Asiayone movement.

1938- strike by the anti-British student opposition.

-1939 -strike by oil workers leads to the foundation of the Communist Party of Burma (CPB)

The British Exile Nationalist Leader Aung San.

1939-40- Aung San is president of the Communist Party of Burma.

-the larger part of the nationalist movement is led by the Burmese Revolutionary Party (BRP)

1940- Un Nu imprisoned for sedition by British. Aung San is sent into exile. He undergoes military training with the Japanese.

World War Two: Nationalist Collaboration with the Japanese Occupation.

1942-45- World War Two- Burma is occupied by the Japanese. The British fight the Burma Campaign against the Japanese and their Burma Army allies.

-Aung San (1915-1947) collaborates with Japanese agents to form the anti-British Burma Independence Army.

1942- BRP collaborates with Japanese.

1942- March 8- General Aung San’s Burma Independence Army enters Rangoon Burma with the Japanese occupation, capturing the capital from the British.

-Nu is freed by the Japanese and serves along with Aung San as a minister in the Japan-imposed Baw Maw government.

1943- Aung San makes Ne Win chief of his Burma National Army.

With Japan Losing, the Nationalists Defect to the Allies.

1944- Aung San contacts Viscount Mountbatten. In March- Aung San, the BRP and the Communists turn against the Japanese as the anti-Fascist People’s Freedom League (AFPFL). San then becomes president.

-U Ne Win- goes over to the allies.

-AFPFL foments uprising against the Japanese which brings back the British.

1945- January-- the British, supported by Chinese and US troops, open the Burma Roas.

May 17- Burma recaptured by the allies.

1946- Un Nu becomes president of the Burmese Constituent Assembly

The Allied Victory: Aung San heads a Liberated Burma.

-Aung San become Prime Minister in the Governor’s Executive Council.

1947- in London, Aung San negotiates Burma’s independence and coinceives the new Burmese Constitution.

Aung San Assassinated

-July 19- Aung San is assassinated with 5 other government memebers by U Saw, a political rival- removing the one uniting figure from Brumese politics.

1948- Jan 4- Burma formally attain indepndence.

U Nu succeeds as Prime Minister.

1948-56- U (Thakin) Nu of AFPFL is Prime Minister- (1907-1995) U Ne Win holds senior military and cabinet posts.

-government is challenged by the Communists (CPB) and various ethnic insurgencies.

-Ne Win retains his position as chief of the new Burmese Army.

1957-58 and 1958-62-- U Nu re-eelcted.

1958- U Nu resigns after a split in the AFPFL.

1958-1960- General U Ne Win becomes caretaker prime minister.

1960- U Nu re-elected..

U Nu Overthrown in a Coup by U Ne Win.

1962- U Ne Win overthrows Prime Minister U Nu. U Ne Win becomes chairman of the revolutionary Council, bans parliament. Ne Win pursues isolationism and a Burmese ideology- “the Burmese Way to Socialism’, a combination of Buddhism, Marxism and nationalism. Burma maintains relations solely with China.

-government forced to deal with Karen guerillas and a large domestic opposition.

The Tyranny of U Ne Win.

-General U Ne Win expropriates the Chinese and Indian merchant classes, fixes prices and nationalizes businesses.

-with lack of export revenues, Burma is strapped for paying its foreign debt.

Aung San Suu Kyi, daughter of Aung San, works at UN.

1969- Aung San Suu Kyi, (b. 1945) daughter of General Aung San, works at UN in New York.

1974- Burma becomes a single-party socialist Republic. U Ne Win becomes President.

1981- U Ne Win leaves office but continues to exert control as chairman of the Burmese Socialist Program Party which still holds the power.

-military crackdowns result in over a million refugees. 200,000 are crowded into camps in Thailand and India.

1988 Economic Crisis. Aung San Suu Kyi Returns to Burma, heads Opposition.

1988- riots due to an economic crisis in Rangoon, centred around Sule Pagoda. Security Forces kill 3000 protestors.

-Aung San Suu Kyi reuturns to Burma to care for her dying mother. She co-founds the National League for Democracy and becomes its General Secretary. She makes it into a mass movement for non-violent change.

-Saw Maung Overthrows Nu Win, Establishes new Dictatorship; Renames country Myanmar.

-General Saw Maung overthrows Nu Win in a military coup and imposes martial law.

-the government’s State Law and order Restoration Council imposes martial law and imprisonment without trial, bans public meetings and prohibits Aung Suu Kyi from holding office.

1989 - former Socialist Republic of the Union of Burma was changed to the Union of Myanmar out of deference to several ethnic groups..

Aung San Suu Kyi Campaigns for Democracy; her NLD wins Election Landslide.

-Aung San Suu Kyi defies the government and tours the country, giving talks.

- the military junta places Aung San Suu Kyi under house arrest.

1990- Suu Ky’s National league for Democracy wins 80 % of the vote in elections. Many new MPs are jailed. The military’s own party gains only 10 seats.

1991- Aun San Suu Kyi is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Government Inores NLD Victory; repression continues.

1992- Maung’s deputy, General Than Shwe, replaces Maung as ruler. Shwe makes ceasefires with several guerilla groups.

-the government continues to be opposed by Aung San Suu Kyi of the National League for Democracy party.

-clashes develop between several insurgent factions. Occasional rioting and pro-democracy demonstrations continue during the 1990s.

Aung San Suu Kyi granted limited freedom from house arrest.

1995- 10 July- Aun San Suu Kyi is released. But she is not allowed to move outside the capital, Rangoon.

Oct.- Suu Kyi resumes as General Secretary of the NLD. Her movements are resitrcted and she is watched closely.

Aung San Suu Kyi in and out of House Arrest.

2000- Aun San Suu Kyi is put back under house arrest.

2001- the government relaxes some restrictions.

2002- Ne Win, charged with plotting a coup, is placed under house arrest.

- Aun San Suu Kyi is put under house arrest again.

2003- May- Aun San Suu Kyi taken into protective custody after clashes between her NLD and the government.

Prime Minister Khin Nyunt’s Short-lived Plan for Democracy.

August – Khin Nyunt becomes Prime Minister. He proposes a convention for a road map to democracy.

2004- peace is made between the government and the Karen guerilla group.

2004- October- Prime Minister Nyunt is placed under house arrest after a power struggle.

November- Min Lo Naing , 1988 democracy leader and other dissidents released in mass amnesty.

Closed, Dead-End Constitutional Talks.

2005- February- Constitutional talks last the whole year without respresentation from opposition groups. There is no result.

April 4, 2005- Chevron Oil and Gas  buys Unocal, getting around indernational sanctions. The Unocal Yadana project has earned the government almost $ 1 billion.

April 26, 2005- bomb explodes in Mandalay, killing 2.

Government Launches Offensives Against the Chin, Shan,  and Karen ethnic groups. 

June 25, 2005- India destroys Burmese border rebel camp of the Chin National Army.

Nov. 6- 2005- Government moves important ministries to hidden locations in mountains and jungles of Pyinmana with headquarters in underground bunkers.

Dec 3, 2005- Government extends Aun Sang Suu Kyi's detemntion for six months.

Dec 23- government artillery pounds villages and  internal refugeee centres of the Kerenni and Karen state.

2006- Feb 12- Burmese leader General Than Shwe upbraids international community for continuing sanctions.

-government rounds up members of the Shan State national army and other Shan people.

The capital is moved to Isolated Pynimana.

- March 2006 --the capital of Burma is moved By General Than Shwe to a remote region- May Pyi Taw, in the town of Pyinmana, 200 miles to the north, apparently on the advice of an astrologer.

March 26- May 18 2006- Government launches massive offensive against Karen rebels, killing, detaining and displacing thousands.

May 27, 2006- Aun Sang Suu Kyi's house arrest extended for another year.

Western Pressure on Burma frustrated by Russia and China.

Aug 1, 2006- President Bush implements three more years of sanctions to pressure Burma into enacting democratic reforms.

Sept 15- 2006- UN Security Council puts pressure on Burma to bring in reforms over objections from China.

Nov. 11- 2006- UN envoy Ibrahim Gambari visits Aun San Suu Kyi

2007- January- China and Russia veto a US draft resolution aimed at stopping political persecution in Burma.

Feb 23 2007- 5 protestors arrested for demanding improvements in education, health and welfare.

April- Burma restores relations with North Korea- after 27 years.


International Pressure in Aung San Suu Kyi results in extended arrest.


May 14, 2007- 60 former head sof state around the world demand release of Aung  San Suu Kyi.



May 25 2007  another year is added to Aung San Suu Kyi’s house arrest.


Mass Protests led by Buddhist Monks after Government raises fuel prices.

August- 2007- mass public demonstrations and protests after the government raises fuel prices
September- the government ends the Constitutional Convention after declaring constitutional talks complete.


-Budhist monks (whom the military treat with kid gloves due to the monks’ great prestige in Burma stage peaceful mass demonstations, asking the government to open dialogue. Aung San Suu Kyi, not seen in public since 2003 is allowed to leave her house to greet the monks.

 -demonstrations persist despite police crackdown.

Protests Swell to 100,000 led by monks despite Government Violence.


Sept 19-22- marching columns of protesting monks reach 4,000.


Sept 23- 20,000 protest against ruling junta growing to 100,000 on 24th, led by columns of monks.

Government Crackdwon with thousands detained and Monasteries emptied.

Spet 23-Oct 1- security forces crush protests by force, detaining thousands including monks, emptying many of the monasteries.


Oct 2- -Junta leader Than Shwe meets with UN envoy to Burma, Ibrahim Gambari.

Oct 2- Oct 15, 2007 - Burmese junta attempts half-hearted public relations offensive as international protests grow against its treatment of the protestors.

October, 2007 -demonsrrations end in Rangoon, normality returns. Monks entirely absent, believed to to have been imprisoned.

International Protest is largely Symbolic.

Oct 25, 2007- UN brokers meeting between junta representative and Aung San Suu Kyi.

-UN Secretary General finally condemns the use of armed force against peaceful protest by Burmese security forces.

2008- January- After several mysterious blasts around the city, the government blames the rebel group, the Karen national Union (KNU)

Junta begins work on a Constitution that will cut short Democracy.

Feb 12, 2008- followers of Aung An Sii Kyi protest government plan for a consititution that will entrench present military rule.

April 2008- Government tables new constition which reserves one quarter of seats in parliament for the military and bans leader of the opposition Aung San Suu Kyi from holding office. A referendum is tabled for May 10.

April 2, 2008- Aung San Suu Kyi's opposition party protests anti-democratic constitution.

Cyclone Nargis kills thousands, exposing scandalously ineffectual and greedy government.

2008 May - Cyclone Nargis hits the low-lying Irrawaddy delta. Some estimates put the death toll as high as 134,000.

May 9- junta members humanitatian aid, labelling it with the generals' own names as a propaganda exercise.

May 12, 2008- death toll from cylcone is 32,000 with almost the same number missing.  Rises to 133,000 dead by May 17.

-referendum proceeds amid humanitarian crisis following cyclone. Government says 92% voted in favour of draft constitution and insists it can cope with cyclone aftermath without foreign help.

Aung San Suu Kyi and NLD continue Protest

-Junta renews Aung San Suu Kyi's house arrest.

2008- May 27- junta extends Aung San Suu Kyi's detention by another year.

2008- July 6- Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy announces that the new military constitution has nullfied the NLD's landslide election victory of 1990.

2008- Sept. Aung San Suu Kyi goes on hunger strike.

2008 November 11-28  close to 80 political activists, including jounralists and monks, given sentences of up to 65 years in series of secretive trials.

2008 December - Government signs deal with consortium of four foreign firms to pipe natural gas into neighbouring China, despite protests from human rights groups.



2009 January - Thailand expels hundreds of members of Burma's Muslim Rohingya minority who appeared off its coast. Burma denies the minority's existence. Several hundred Rohingyas are subsequently rescued from boats off the coast of Indonesia.

UN envoy Ibrahim Gambari meets opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi for the first time in a year.

Feb 13, 2009- Junta extends Aung San Suu Kyi's house arrest for another year.

Pretexts found for further muzzling of NLD and Aung San Suu Kyi.

March 6-13, 2009- 5 members of Aung San Suu Kyi's NLD party arrested by military.


March 14- Aung San Suu Kyi chargd with breaking terms of her island house arrest after seccentric American John Yattaw swims out to visit her.


2009 March - Senior US State Department official Stephen Blake visits for talks with Foreign Minister Nyan Win in what the US called a routine visit. The Burmese government said it was notable given his seniority.

UN refugee agency announces expansion of work in northern Rakhine state to aid the Rohingya minority.

2009 April - The National League for Democracy (NLD) main opposition group offers to take part in planned elections if the government frees all political prisoners, changes the constitution and allows in international observers.


2009 May - The EU extends the 2006 sanctions for another year, but adds that they can be reviewed in the event of moves towards democracy.

UN and aid agencies say hundreds of thousands in the Irrawaddy Delta still need assistance a year after Cyclone Nargis. The UN says Burma now allows it to bring in all the staff it needs.

June 5-6- 2009- military renews its offensive against  Karen insurgents and ethnic group


June 6- report emerges that Chinese aid to Maynmare about 7 times US aid.


Aung San Suu Kyi  sentenced to house arrest for violating house arrest.

2009 August - Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi is convicted of breaching the conditions of her house arrest, following a visit by uninvited US national John Yattaw in May. The initial sentence of three years' imprisonment is commuted to 18 months' house arrest.

Aug. 27-29- 2009- military launches massive offensive against rebels in northeast forcing thousands of rebels into China.


US Obama government begins new policy of engagement with Burma.

Sept 29-  Obama government signals new direction or engagement on Burma as US assistant Secretary of State meets with Burma's minister of science, technology and lanbour.

2009 October - Aung San Suu Kyi begins talks with Burma's military leaders and is allowed to meet Western diplomats in move encouraged by US.

2010 February - The authorities free NLD vice-chairman Tin Oo. Aung San Suu Kyi's deputy had spent more than a decade in prison or under house arrest.

2010- January- Junta announces elections for some time in 2010.  


2010 March - Government announces that long-awaited election laws have been passed, with provisions for an electoral commission hand-picked by the junta.

NLD Moves to oppose 2010 Eelections or evade election ban.


March 2010- Aung San Suu Ki and her NLD opposition party anounce boycott of 2010 elections.

April 29- 2010- Aung San Suu Kyi launches law suit in supreme court over election laws that could ban her NLD party.

May 6, 2010- the NLD opposition party says it will continue as a movement even it is banned by the election law.

May 7, 2010- NDF faction of the NLD says it will form a party to run in elections.

June 4, 2010- a former senior UN nuclear inspector says smuggled documents reveal that Burma is trying to develop a nuclear weapon.

July 10, 2010- NLD faction receives permit to run in elections.

US fears Cooperation Between Burma and North Korea.

July 30, 2010- US is closely watching secret talks between Burma and North Korea, fearing nculear cooperation.

-NLD decides to boycott elections. NDF- National Democratic Front secedes from NDF, obtains permit to run in elections.

Aug 14, 2010- EU warns Burma that elections slated for Nov. 7, will be considered illegitmate by the world unless they are free and fair.

-senior officals step down to run as candidates.
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