Thirty Comrades

Thirty Comrades

The Thirty Comrades ( _my. ရဲဘော်သုံးကျိပ်) constituted the embryo of the modern Burmese army called the Burma Independence Army (BIA) which was formed to fight for independence from Britain. This was accomplished just before the majority of the Thirty Comrades returned with the invading Japanese Army initially through Southern Burma in December 1941.

In April 1941, small groups of Burmese youth left Burma secretly to obtain military training to fight the British in the struggle for independence. Their leader was Thakin Aung San and they were sent by the Dobama Asiayone (We Burmans Association) with the intention to get assistance from the Chinese Communists. By a quirk of fate, however, they ran into the Japanese instead in Amoy and arrived in Japan later to be flown to Hainan Island,China, in order to receive military training by the Japanese Army.cite web|url=|author=Tetsuro Usui & Claire Debenham|title=The Relationship between Japan and Burma|publisher=Asian Human Rights Commission|accessdate=2006-09-10] They were later moved to Formosa for security reasons and subsequently returned to Burma via Vietnam and Thailand with the Japanese army.cite web|url=|title=Bogyoke Kyaw Zaw's autobiography in Burmese, CPB] On December 26 1941, in a house in Bangkok, about 25 of the Thirty Comrades had their blood drawn from their arms in syringes, then poured into a sliver bowl from which each of them drank - "thway thauk" in time-honoured Burmese military tradition - pledging "eternal loyalty" among themselves and to the cause of Burmese independence. Their average age was just 24 years. [cite web|url=|title=An Enduring Legacy Written in Blood|publisher="The Irrawaddy Mar 2005"|accessdate=2006-09-03] cite book|author=Martin Smith|year=1991|title=Burma - Insurgency and the Politics of Ethnicity|publisher=Zed Books|location=London and New Jersey|pages=59,107,56,92,103,108,204,278,293,208-209,233,276,291,178,309,204 ] A Japanese officer called Colonel Suzuki, better known among the Burmese by his nom de guerre "Bo Mogyo" (Commander Thunderbolt) and head of a special intelligence unit called "Minami Kikan" formed in order to support a national uprising in Burma, was the mentor and principal trainer of the Thirty Comrades. The British were driven out of Burma to India during World War II.

The Thirty Comrades, each taking a nom de guerre , were:

According to a historian of Burma Professor Gordon H Luce, who in the pre-war years taught at Rangoon University, the Thirty Comrades led by General Aung San (1915-1947) helped establish the 4th Burmese State in history (the 1st by King Anawrahta (1044-1077), the 2nd by King Bayinnaung (1550-1581), the 3rd by King Alaungpaya (1752-1760).

Dr Ba Maw (February 8 1893-May 29 1977), who was the Head of State and "Paramount Leader' (in Burmese "Adipadi Gyi") from August 1943 to about March 1945, during the administration established by the Japanese, had somewhat different opinions on the role of the Thirty Comrades. (See Ba Maw, Breakthrough in Burma: Memoirs of a Revolution 1939-1946, Yale University Press, 1968).

As of late August 2006, only two among the Thirty Comrades are still alive. They are Bo Kyaw Zaw (No.14 on the list) who currently lives in exile in Yunnan Province, China, and Bo Ye Htut (No.15 on the list) who is believed to be living in his hometown Pyinmana. Among the prominent leaders of the Thirty Comrades who had died in recent years were Bo Ne Win (No.6 on the list) who died on December 5 2002 [cite news|url=|title=Former Myanmar President U Ne Win Dies|publisher="People's Daily China" Dec 5 2002|accessdate=2006-09-10] [cite news|url=|title=Ne Win Obit - Reactions and Perspectives|publisher="VOA' Burmese Dec 05 2002|accessdate=2006-09-11] , and who from March 1962 to about ten years beyond his "retirement" in late July 1988 was the ruler, and in later years the "puppet master", of Burma, and Bohmu Aung (No. 9 on the list) who died in 2004. [cite news|url=|title=Myanmar Independence Hero Dies at 95|publisher="Associated Press", BurmaNet News Nov 09 2004|accessdate=2006-09-10]


External links

* [ The Blood-strewn Path: Burma's Early Journey to Independence] "BBC Burmese" Sep 30 2005
* [ Photographs of Aung San]
* [ Heroes and Villains] "The Irrawaddy", March 2007

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