Declaration of the Independence of Burma
Declaration of the Independence of Burma
Today, after more than fifty years of British occupation, Burma resumes her rightful place among the free and sovereign nations of the world. She proudly occupied that place throughout a very long stretch of unbroken history during which her glory shone like the sun and the moon in the heavens. Her empire once extended far beyond the hills to the North, South, East and West; many among her people were famous and mighty; the strength of her arms also was acknowledged to be great; and she contributed in her time worthily to the progress of mankind. Pagan and its architecture still mark a peak in that progress.
Throughout all their long history before British aggression the Burmese people maintained their independence unbrokenly after subduing every enemy sooner or later in incessant wars.
Fifty years or so ago Burma lost her independence for the first time as a result of three Anglo-Burmese wars. Britain waged these wars in pursuance of her predatory designs upon Asia at a time when Asia was divided and unprepared and the whole weight of sea-power, superior war equipment, and the vast newly-discovered resources of the industrial revolution was on the British side. To these she further added her traditional weapons of intrigue, bribery, and every conceivable fraud and device. The result of this unequal contest was that most of the small Asiatic nations were destroyed by British cunning and material superiority. It was Burma’s tragedy to be among those small nations which were overpowered by this material superiority.
The years of British occupation were indeed sorrowful for Burma. She entered into a long bondage, and dishonour and disruption ate deeply into her flesh. The Burmese people were slowly expropriated, losing, as time went on, most of their national substance, their vast material resources and opportunities, their culture, their language and even their own way of living, while Britain, according to whose plans these [things] were happening, derived the evil gains.
However, the Burmese national spirit remained uncorrupted by the darkness of these years. The struggle against the aggressor continued in one form or another as opportunity allowed or weapons were available while British greed and tyranny kept the fire in every Burmese heart raging. Periodically the people broke loose in their desperation, there were mass risings, slaughter, destruction, and then the most violent British reprisals followed; whole Burmese villages went up in flames, the men were taken away forever and their homes left desolate. But still the struggle went on, gaps were slowly filled, new patriots came forward to suffer, in a spirit of utter dedication, the same repressions, imprisonment, exile, torture and often death itself. These heroes suffered and even died so that Burma might live. Their names and deeds shall be remembered always.
While the fortunes of this desperate unequal struggle rose and fell the Asiatic consciousness appeared for the first time in Burma. The Burmese people began to look around and abroad and the at themselves, and found that they were Asiatics and that Asiatics must stand together if Asia is to rise again. Looking for the leadership which would unite and save Asia the Burmese found it in the great Nippon Empire. Thereafter Burma began to turn her face towards the East.
With the outbreak of the present war for the liberation of East Asia the Burmese struggle came at last to a turning-point. The irresistible forces of Nippon, after utterly breaking the enemy everywhere, swept through all East Asia and finally reached Burma where the entire people, who had long waited for this hour, rose unitedly to march side by side with Nippon’s great army of liberation against the Anglo-American enemies. East Asia had at last come together, her enemies were swiftly expelled from Burma and elsewhere, and the joy of the Burmese people was unbounded. From that day onwards they have given themselves completely to the cause of East Asia. Their gratitude to Nippon as the leader of East Asia is profound. They bow too in gratitude and homage to the war heroes, both Burmese and Nipponese, who have died in this war so that East Asia may conquer and live, so that Burma also may be free.
Today the Burmese people will at least reap the harvest which was sown for many years with ceaseless struggle and sacrifice. They will come once more into their own rights. They will solemnly proclaim their independence and sovereignty and enter into all the rights and obligations of a free people. Nippon’s strength and heroism, Nippon’s nobility of purpose, have made this possible. With an entire nobility which is in keeping with the spirit of her national foundation, Nippon, who conquered Burma from the British, has promised to recognize Burma’s Independence. Burma desires to place on perpetual record her gratitude to Nippon for this act of supreme service to her.
The Burmese people therefore, by this solemn declaration now made in their name and in accordance with their national will by a Constituent Assembly representing them, publicly proclaim that this day forever Burma is a full independent and sovereign State and that she has severed herself completely from Britain and the British Empire. Burma, as an independent State, is further declared to be established upon the ethical principles which will always represent the spirit of her national foundation. The Burmese people are convinced that such principles alone will preserve them and make them great and prosperous.
Burma also declares herself to be a member of the Great East Co-prosperity Sphere. She enters into this free and equal partnership so that, by the united resources, will and work of East Asia as a whole, a new Asiatic order and economy may be established as a part of the new world order which will ensure justice, peace and prosperity to all peoples. Burma pledges herself with her entire will to the fulfillment of this great task.
The New State of Burma is also established upon the principle of Burmese unity in one blood, one voice, one leader. It was national disintegration which destroyed the Burmese people in the past and they are determined that this shall never happen again.
Burma is now not only Burmese but East Asiatic as well and she must bear her part of the burden in accordance with this new conception and order while at the same time the rest of East Asia bear their part of the burden towards Burma in the same spirit. Burma must construct the new order in her territories in accordance with a plan which will ensure strong administration, stability, justice, self-sufficiency and strength in all directions. A strong, stable, and self-sufficient Burma is the greatest contribution that Burma can make to the East Asiatic order and economy, and Burma, owing to her geographical position, must be strong if East Asia is to be strong. The New State of Burma will pursue this policy resolutely.
Burma, in her foreign policy, will also promote peace, justice and the establishment of a new world order. She will endeavor constantly to maintain the closest relations with all friendly powers on the basis of justice and reciprocity.
Regarding the present Great East Asiatic War which being waged against the Anglo-American enemies and their allies the Burmese people solemnly declare that it is also their war, a war which will decide the issues of their own independence, their prosperity, their very survival as a people. It concerns them as Burmese and also as East Asiatics, for it is further a war which will definitely settle the fate and fortunes of the East Asiatic peoples for a very long time. The Burmese people further declare their strongest resolution to support this war together with the other East Asiatic powers under Nippon leadership till the enemy is reduced to utter submission. They will support this war with all their resources, both material and moral, whatever may happen and however long the war may last. The great heroes whose sacrifices have redeemed Burma and made Burmese Independence possible have passed away but their work still remain unfinished; the work of Burmese Independence also still remains unfinished; the work of making East Asia safe for East Asiatics also remains unfinished. All these tasks, which are so vital to the Burmese people, can only be finished by winning the present war. The Burmese people therefore dedicate themselves completely to the cause of winning the present war.
Finally, it is declared that the New State of Burma will be governed in strict accordance with the laws and constitution which are in force for this purpose. All people in Burma are in this manner assured of good government, justice and of all their just and lawful rights.
The Burmese people, acting through a Constituent Assembly representing them for this purpose, have here made a solemn declaration of Burmese Independence and of the principles upon which the New State of Burma is founded and will be governed. This declaration represents the whole national will of the Burmese people and it shall be faithfully maintained. The Burmese people pledge themselves to the utmost to this end before all devas [gods] and men who are witnesses to this solemn act and declaration.
(Signed) U Ba Maw
Burma Constituent Assembly.
Rangoon, the 1st August 1943.