Burma Colony (1937–1948)
State of Burma (1943–1945)
Union of Burma (1948–1974)
Socialist Republic of the Union of Burma (1974–1988) and Union of Myanmar (1988–2010)
The military government of Burma (officially ‘Myanmar’) unveiled a new flag for the southeast-Asian country last week. The new design (above) rejects the general form of Burmese national flags since the country was granted independence from Great Britain in 1948, but instead harkens back to the ‘State of Burma’, a puppet regime set up by the Japanese to integrate Burma into their ‘Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere’.
Somewhat paradoxically, the Minister of Defence in the puppet ‘State of Burma’ was General Aung Sang, the father of Aung Sang Suu Kyi, pro-democracy activist and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. Aung Sang Suu Kyi is the most prominent leader of the opposition to the military junta that rules Burma, and has spent fourteen of the past twenty years either in jail or under house arrest.
The flag change is part of a transition period devised by the military junta in their attempt to reform the country into a managed democracy that will be less isolated from the rest of the world without threatening the junta’s grasp on power.
Burma became a British possession in 1824, and was made a province of the Empire of India in 1886. In 1937 the province was separated from India, excluding it from the reforms aimed at eventually granting dominion status to the sub-continent but also introducing important reforms for Burma, including an elected assembly with a prime minister. The country saw some of the heaviest fighting during the Second World War, but the forces of the Japanese puppet regime, the ‘State of Burma’ eventually saw the tide turning against the Empire of Japan and switched sides to join the British and Indian armies under Lord Mountbatten.