|Born||25 May 1907|
|Died||14 Feb 1995|
Contributor: C. Peter Chen
ww2dbaseNu was born to U San Tun and Daw Saw Khin in Wakema, Burma in May 1907. He attended Myoma High School and Rangoon University in Rangoon, Burma. He completed his bachelor's degree in 1929, and remained in the university to study law. During that time, he joined, and later became the president of, the Rangoon University Students Union; he, along with other fellow student activists, Aung San among them, was expelled from the university for writing articles critical of the university's rector. He also met and married his wife, Mya Yi, in 1935 while he was studying law; they would have five children. In 1936, he joined the Dobama Asiayone, "Our Burma Association", and claimed the honorific Thakin, meaning Lord or Master, signifying that he was one of the the masters of the Burmese home land. Thakin Nu co-founded, with Thakin Than Tun the Nagani Book Club which widely circulated Burmese-language translations of the Marxist classics. He also became a leader and co-founder of the People's Revolutionary Party (PRP), which later became the Socialist Party. In 1940, he was detained by British colonial authorities, for anti-British activities.
ww2dbaseWhen Japanese troops poured across the border at the start of the Pacific War, the prison in which Thakin Nu was held was abandoned, and he regained his freedom. During the Japanese occupation period, he co-founded the Anti-Fascist People's Freedom League (AFPFL), which advocated Burmese independence from both Japanese and British control, but he would slowly drift away from it. Instead, he aligned with those who believed that the future of Burma required a high degree of collaboration with the Japanese. In Aug 1943, he was made the Foreign Minister by Ba Maw in Ba Maw's Japanese-supported regime. In 1944, he was made the Information Minister. In Mar 1945, when the AFPFL started a wide rebellion, he opted to remain on Ba Maw's side and retreated with the Japanese. After the Japanese surrender, he retired from politics and wrote a memoir about his career during the WW2 period.
ww2dbaseIn 1947, Thakin Nu returned to politics after the assassination of Aung San, taking leadership of the AFPFL. In that capacity, he signed the Nu-Attlee Treaty, in which Britain granted Burma its independence, in Oct 1947. After the Burmese independence, He served as the Prime Minister three times, between Jan 1948 and Jun 1956, between Feb 1947 and Oct 1958, and between Apr 1960 and Mar 1962. In 1952, he announced that Burma had successfully obtained independence, thus his honorific of Thakin which he had used with political connotations was no longer necessary, and he would adopt the common honorific U, meaning Mister. Throughout the 1950s, U Nu oversaw the implementation of the Pyidawtha Plan, a national economic development plan to establish an industrial welfare state in Burma. He also authored several books on history and politics in the 1950s. In 1961, he initiated an effort to make Buddhism the official state religion of Burma, which was accepted by the parliament; the State Religion Promotion Act of 1961 called for the abandonment of the Christian Sunday, establishment of Buddhist Uposatha to replace Sundays as the religious days of rest, requirement for public schools to teach Buddhism, among other laws with religious foundations. In Mar 1962, the Burmese government was overthrown by a military coup d'√©tat led by General Ne Win, a former prime minister and one of U Nu's former trusted colleagues. Establishing an authoritarian rule, Ne Win abolished the parliament (and thus invalidated the State Religion Promotion Act of 1961). U Nu was detained in an army base outside of Yangon (the spelling generally started to change from the British style of "Rangoon" to Burmese style of "Yangon" around the time of Burma gaining independence) for the next four years. In Dec 1968, he was made a member of the Internal Unity Advisory Board by Ne Win, tasked with improving national unity. In this role, in Feb 1969, the board daringly submitted a report that recommended that Ne Win should be made the president of the country (and thus step down from power), U Nu be made the prime minister, and the parliament should reassemble. Shortly after this report, under the pretext of a pilgrimage, he fled Burma for India. When Ne Win made no response to his report, U Nu left India for London, England, United Kingdom. In Nov 1969, Ne Win formally rejected the recommendations made by the Internal Unity Advisory Board; meanwhile, from London, U Nu had already declared that he was "the legal Prime Minister". He later founded the Parliamentary Democracy Party and a small armed resistance group aimed at overthrowing Ne Win, but those efforts was never met with any success. In 1975, his autobiography Ta-Tei Sanei Tha (Naughty Saturday-born) was published in India. After Ne Win granted him amnesty, he returned to Burma in Jul 1980. For several years, he stayed out of politics and taught Theravada Buddhism in Burma and the United States. In Aug 1988, during the 8888 Uprising, he asserted his claim to the Prime Minister title again. Although he formed an interim government, the coincidental return of Aung San Suu Kyi (daughter of Aung San), her unexpected entry into national politics, and her refusal to accept U Nu's claims to power (she instead called for a democratic process to elect the next leader) played a major part in U Nu's ultimate failure. In 1993, his wife Mya Yi passed away. U Nu passed away from natural in Feb 1955 in his home in Yangon.
Last Major Revision: Apr 2022
U Nu Interactive Map
U Nu Timeline
|25 May 1907||Nu was born in Wakema, Myaungmya District, Irrawaddy Division, British Burma.|
|12 Aug 1945||An Allied air raid targeted Ba Maw's home in Burma in an attempt to assassinate him. Ba Maw and his colleague Thakin Nu, who was also present at the house, escaped unharmed.|
|4 Jan 1948||Thakin Nu was made the first Prime Minister of Burma.|
|12 Jun 1956||U Nu stepped down as the Prime Minister of Burma.|
|28 Feb 1957||U Nu was made the Prime Minister of Burma.|
|26 Sep 1958||U Nu asked Army Chief of Staff General Ne Win to takeover his role as Prime Minister as U Nu planned to relinquish his power.|
|28 Oct 1958||U Nu stepped down as the Prime Minister of Burma.|
|4 Apr 1960||U Nu was made the Prime Minister of Burma.|
|2 Mar 1962||U Nu stepped down as the Prime Minister of Burma.|
|27 Oct 1966||U Nu was released by the Burmese military government after being detained for four years.|
|2 Dec 1968||U Nu was put on the Internal Unity Advisory Board, commissioned by Ne Win, which was tasked to improve national unity.|
|27 Aug 1969||While in exile in London, England, United Kingdom, U Nu declared that he was legally the Prime Minister of Burma, challenging General Ne Win in Yangon, Burma who held the title with backing of the military.|
|29 Jul 1980||U Nu arrived at Yangon Airport in Yangon, Burma at 1530 hours, after receiving amnesty from Ne Win.|
|9 Sep 1988||U Nu asserted his claim to the title of Prime Minister during the 8888 Uprising in Burma.|
|14 Feb 1995||U Nu passed away in Bahan Township, Yangon, Myanmar.|
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