Myanmar; key historical events
Page last modified 25/3/2020
See also India Region
25/8/2017, Militant Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar attacked 30 police posts and a military base, in response to Burmese persecution of the minority Muslim group. Subsequently, many Rohingya fled across the border into Bangladesh.
13/11/2010, Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi was released from house arrest which she had been under for 15 of the previous 21 years. She was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991, a year after winning elections which were nullified by the ruling junta.
5/12/2002. General Ne Win of Burma (Myanmar) died. His real name was Shu Maung (apple of my eye) but he changed it to Ne Win (brilliant as the sun) on taking power. Ne Win had been close to Communist China, which he had visited in 1960. Ne Win disliked the democratic government left to Burma by the British after independence in 1948. He preferred the strong military rule of China. In 1962 Ne Win launched a military coup and took control of Burma. All land, commerce and industry were nationalised, dance halls and gambling were forbidden, foreigners were expelled and tourism abolished. No high rise building was allowed, and no neon signs, even for Coca Cola. The rest of the world was not too bothered as Burma was not strategically important as Vietnam and Korea were. Under Ne Win’s rule ethnic divisions within Burma intensified and opium chiefs expanded their fiefs, bribing the soldiers sent to close them down. Burma’s rice exports ceased and income per person per year fell from US$670 a year in 1960 to US$200 in 1989. Despite its resources of teak, oil, and good farmland, Burma became one of the world’s poorest countries. In 1988 Ne Win announced his retirement. A group of generals took over and renamed Burma by its traditional name, Myanmar. A surprisingly free election was won by Miss Suu Kyi’s democrats in 1990 but the result was not honoured. Ne Win died peacefully in his villa on the shores of Lake Inya, not far from Miss Suu Kyi’s house.
10/7/1995. The Burmese Nobel Peace prize winner, Aung San Kyi, was released, from six years house arrest. Amnesty International reported that the Human Rights situation in Burma remained ‘desperate’.
12/1/1993. The Burmese military junta said it would hold opposition leader and Nobel Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi indefinitely.
14/10/1991 The Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Aung San Suu Chi of Burma/Myanmar.
7/7/1962, The Burmese Army attacked a student demonstration at Rangoon University, killing 130 – see 2/3/1962.
20/7/1989. The Burmese opposition leader, Aung Suu Kyi, was placed under house arrest, after public campaigning. She was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 whilst still in captivity.
29/5/1989. Burma changed its name to Myanmar.
16/9/1988, A military junta seized power in Burma.
8/8/1988. A popular uprising in Myanmar / Burma against the military rule there.
21/6/1988, The Myanmar regime imposed martial law in the face of student protests.
5/9/1987, Without prior notice, the Myanmar Government declared the 25, 35 and 75 Kyat banknotes were demonetised and worthless, not exchangeable for any other currency. The move was aimed at black marketeers operating along the Myanmar-Thailand border, and in fact this trade was halted within days. However it also meant that ordinary Burmese citizens lost 80% of their wealth, and tourists were left with worthless currency. The move led to serious popular unrest in Myanmar in 1988, culminating in the ‘8888’ uprising of * August 1988.
1976, Social unrest and ethnic conflict; ethnic liberation groups controlled 40% of the country.
1964, The Socialist Programme Party was declared the sole legal party in Burma.
2/3/1962, General Ne Win staged a military coup (see 1960). Ne Win now suppressed all democracy, and renamed the country Myanmar in 1989. On 7/7/1962 the Army intervened to halt a student protest at Rangoon University; they dynamited the Student Union building, killing 130 students. All universities across the country were then closed until September 1964. Ne Win established ‘The Burmese Way to Socialism’ Under his regime, mining and other industries were nationalised, as the country’s New Order policy of Buddhist Socialism isolated the nation politically. Free trade was suppressed. Hundreds of political opponents were imprisoned without trial, and Myanmar went from being one of the most prosperous regions of south east Asia in 1960 to one of the 10 poorest nations on Earth by the time Ne Win retired in 1988.
1961, Kachin rebellion began.
1960, General Ne Win, as Supreme Commander of the Burmese Army, temporarily took political power from Prime Minister U Nu, in order to restore law and order in the country. Burma was then facing numerous ethnic-based uprisings from minority peoples within its borders. He later returned power to U Nu, but 2 years later seized power again, in a military coup, see 2/3/1962.
1958, Shan liberation struggle began.
5/11/1954, Burma and Japan signed a peace treaty.
6/1/1953, The Asian Socialist Conference convened in Rangoon (Yangon), Myanmar. Israel sent its Foreign Minister, Moshe Sharett, as delegate. Israel provided training to Burmese farmers, and Israel provided officers and equipment for the Burmese Army.
4/1/1948. Burma became independent from Britain, and joined the Commonwealth. The new Republic was troubled by civil war; general Ne Win was in charge of military action against the Karen and their Communist guerrilla allies. U Nu (see 19/7/1947), a devout Buddhist, was Burmese leader until 1962 when Ne Win took over in an army coup.
19/7/1947, The Burmese leader Aung San
was assassinated by gunmen in the pay of a political rival, shortly before
Burma was to gain independence from Britain, see 4/1/1948. U Nu became leader of
1945, The Anti-Fascist People’s Freedom League (AFPFL), led by Aung San, helped the Allies liberate Burma from Japanese occupation.
1942, Japan invaded Burma. See Japan for more events of World War Two in the Pacific
1937, Burma was separated from India as a British Crown colony.
1930, Economic depression in Burma led to popular unrest.
24/7/1886, After a third Anglo-Burmese War, China recognised Burma sa a British Protectorate.
1/1/1886, The British seized Upper Burma. Burma became a province of British India.
1885, King Thebaw (1858-1916), last King of Burma from 1878, was deposed by the British. He was sent into exile.
28/11/1885, The British entered Mandalay.
1878, Death of Mindon, Burmese ruler of the Konbaung Dynasty, King of Burma from February 1853 (born 1814). He gained the throne after a revolt against his half-brother, King Pagan Min, in the final stages of the Second Anglo-Burmese War. He quickly concluded that war, securing Burmese territorial integrity by establishing friendly commercial relations with the British. In 1857 he established a new capital at Mandalay. Burma was stable under his rule but when he died, fundamental divisions within his country resurfaced, leading to instabilities and the Third Anglo-Burmese War.
14/4/1852, British and Indian forces captured Rangoon.
11/4/1852, The British began bombarding Rangoon, starting the Second Burmese War.
24/2/1826, The Treaty of Yandabu ended the First Burmese War. Britain gained control of Assam and Arakan.
11/5/1824. The British, with a force of 11,000 troops, invaded Burma and captured Rangoon in retaliation for the King of Burma’s invasion of Shahpuri, in British India, in February 1824. This was the first time steamboats had been used in warfare.
24/2/1824, The Burmese War began, between Britain and Burma, when Burma invaded the Indian island of Shahpuri. Lord Amherst, British Governor-General of India, declared war on Burma.
15/5/1760, Aloung P’Houra Alompra ruler of Burma, died.
1757, Aloung P’Houra Alompra invaded Pegu.
1755, The city of Yangon (Rangoon) was founded by Aloung P’Houra Alompra.
1752, Pegu invaded Burma. Aloung P’Houra Alompra organised the Burmese resistance and ousted the Peguans.
11/1/1551, Ketumati, Burma, was conquered by Bayinnaung.
1711, Aloung P’Houra Alompra, founder of the last Burmese dynasty, was born in Motshobo, a small village 50 miles NE of Ava.
1287, Mongol forces overran Burma.
4/4/1287, Wareru created the Hanthawaddy Kingdom in modern-day Lower Burma.
1077, King Anawrahta died,
1044, Start of the reign of King Anawrahta, at Pagan.