An Enduring Legacy Written in Blood
covering burma and southeast asia
Tuesday, June 25, 2019


An Enduring Legacy Written in Blood

By Yeni MARCH, 2005 - VOLUME 13 NO.3


Burma’s Armed Forces Day now has a new meaning, different from that envisaged by founding father Aung San and his comrades who took an oath in blood in 1941


It was a crucial meeting. Young Burmese men were on a high as they talked enthusiastically about freeing their homeland from its colonial yoke. They all drew blood from their arms and drank it in an oath of loyalty.


This is not fiction, but an historic milestone in Burma’s modern political history.


The date was December 26, 1941, in the middle of World War II, the place Bangkok, and it led to the formation of the Burma Independence Army by the “Thirty Comrades” under the leadership of Maj-Gen Aung San. He was the father of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, currently under house arrest in Rangoon.


Garlands for the boys in olive green


More than a year earlier, Aung San had fled Burma when the British colonial power issued warrants for him and others in the independence movement who had gone underground. He first went to Amoy, China, which was then occupied by the Japanese. Then on to Japan where he was joined by other like-minded young Burmese men who formed the fabled “Thirty Comrades.” It was when the comrades—actually, only 28 by then—were traveling back to Burma with promises of Japanese military aid for their independence movement in December 1941, that they stopped in Bangkok and held their historic meeting.


The meeting also launched the Burma Independence Army which soon gained popularity when the comrades slipped back into Burma, and is regarded now with almost mythical awe. The heroic adventures of Aung San and his “Thirty Comrades” are now the stuff of legend.


Burmese nationalists had originally seen the outbreak of World War II as an opportunity to extort concessions from their British masters in exchange for support in the war effort.

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