British complicity in murder of Burma’s national hero Aung San raises issues for wider investigation of British crimes in colonial era


– by Shenali Waduge

Mr. David Cameron, British Prime Minister, has vowed to give Sri Lanka lessons on human rights when he attends the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Sri Lanka in November 2013.

It is an astonishing statement coming from a head of a country that once ran an Empire not so long ago, on which it was said that ‘the Sun never sets’. At its peak the British Empire was the largest empire the world had ever known. Closely associated with Empire Rule was the term ‘White Man’s Burden’ coined by Rudyard Kipling in a poem (1899) drawing attention to the  presumed responsibility of white people to govern and impart their culture to nonwhite people, which was often advanced by the Western countries as a justification for European colonialism.

We are no longer living in the colonial era. Sri Lanka is a now free country having liberated ourselves from the manacles of terrorism not so long ago. We are today a sovereign country with a citizenry proud of its achievements in the past, both distant and recent, and of our manifest destiny.  Being such people, we are not the type of people that need lessons on human rights, particularly unsolicited ones coming from people who have a lot to answer regarding their conduct in this very country over a period of 150 years.

At the same time, we are also polite and kind hearted people. As a matter of politeness and courtesy we will be happy to lend our ears to whatever that Mr. Cameron chooses to speak on without any interruption on our part.

If Mr. Cameron intends to use the occasion of CHOGM to air human rights concerns with a sense of grievance, it would be a great irresponsibility on the part of Mr. Cameron to assume that countries that his forbears ruled as part of the British Empire have lost their sense of grievance or have closed that dark chapter for good.

With Power comes responsibilities and moral obligations. To use the simple words ‘We are sorry’ at the beginning will go a long way to heal the wounds stemming from colonial atrocities and misrule.

We are no longer prepared to accept without protest global legal systems that have been  established by the West largely for the benefit and protection of the people of the west and its appointees to ensure the people from western colonial countries escape having to answer for all crimes committed.

Where is the justice when not a single colonial official has stood trial for crimes committed in the colonial era?

Yet, Third World nations are once more being hounded on issues of “accountability” in UN fora totally ignoring the scale of crimes committed by the accusers. We illustrate here as an example the colonial crime in Burma where British complicity ended the life of Burma’s national hero Aung San.

Murder of General Aung San

The incident took place on Saturday 19th July 1947 in Rangoon. The time was 10:40a.m., Aung San the Deputy Chairman of the Burmese interim government was conducting a meeting of the Executive Council on the 2nd floor of the Secretariat Building in Rangoon preparing for the transfer of power from Britain to Burma. Four youths dressed in army uniform carrying Sten and Tommy guns dashed upstairs and unloaded their weapons spraying the entire room with blood killing Aung San, six of Aung San’s cabinet ministers including his older brother, a cabinet secretary and bodyguard. In a matter of moments the entire youthful leadership of post-independence Burma was mercilessly wiped out. So how was Britain involved in the murder of Aung San?

U Saw the former premier was convicted of the murder of Aung San as the weapons found close to his residence revealed that these were the same weapons used  in  the murder that had been stolen from the British army Depot and supplied to him by Major Henry Young and Capt David Vivien. David Vivien was sentenced to 5 years in prison but he “escaped” and ended up in the UK. U Saw while in prison before hanging sent a series of letters to Capt Vivien threatening to disclose all and demanding money from British Council officer Stuart Bingley who used diplomatic immunity to evade questioning and was quickly packed off to UK.

His death in 1979 sealed any information of his involvement. U Saw’s personal ties with the British Governor Dorman-Smith and several discussions with the British to upstage Aung San further accentuated links of complicity. Moreover, a secret telegram sent by the British ambassador to Whitehall all but  confirmed British   collaboration in the murder. Moreover, British police officers not part of the conspiracy like Carlyle Seppings were told not to question any British officers about the crime “This has got too big for both you and me” his boss had warned him. “If you dig deeper, you’re going to tread on some very important corns”. Whilst Chau Zau one of Aung San’s colleagues now exiled in China revealed to the BBC2. “The British government killed Aung San…it was their plot” This is what should scare every Third World nation and their leaders.

Meanwhile, Fergal Keane in the London Guardian, writes that the very same British Lords who  conspired to  murder Aung San, also set up the British covert support apparatus among the ethnic hill tribes of the Golden Triangle to set into motion civil war against the very government to which it was simultaneously granting independence. This was how the British while showing statesmanship in granting independence set up the Friends of the Burma Hill Peoples to undermine that very independence.

Can such Colonial Governments be trusted when on the surface, support is shown but underneath even murder is plotted?

Accusations that British companies in Burma with the tacit approval of the British Government helped U Saw is also not ruled out because these companies wanted to remain in Burma even post-independence. If U Saw was backed by the British to carry out the murder it becomes no different to the backing given by the CIA and MI5 to Moise Tshombe to get rid of Congo’s martyr Patrice Lumumba just as Osama Bin Laden was backed by the CIA against the Russians, Saddam Hussein was backed to attack Iran and how eventually these very friends turned out foes and were all silenced before they could disclose to the world the truth.

BBC Documentary (1997)

So when 50 years after the assassination, the BBC Channel 2 releases a documentary in 1997 focusing the world’s attention towards the murder confirming what many believed was the complicity of the British government  in the murder of Aung San what purpose does it serve decades later if the perpetrators remain free and “unaccountable” for the crimes committed? These revelations appear to be nothing but  subtle threats implying about what the West can do to nations and national leaders if they come between Western agendas.

While BBC Channel 2 is commended for the investigative documentary the question that surfaces is what good is the revelation of the involvement of Britain if nothing is going to be done about it and nothing has changed the criminal tendency. Aung San was murdered in 1947 but that guilt did not stop other murders. The deaths of Congo’s national hero Patrice Lumumba and UN Chief Dag Hammerskjold for which CIA, MI5 and Belgium in a combined Anglo-American effort was involved. UN chief Dag Hammerskjold who took the side of post-independent nations was eliminated signaling a clear message that rule of law is dictated and run by the West according to Western agendas ONLY. Thereafter, all UN Secretary General’s role became nothing but functioning as a puppet for Western agendas. It is believed that 50 such foreign leaders have been assassinated over the years by Western run agencies.

Even after openly acknowledging the guilt for these crimes none of these crimes have been internationally investigated and perpetrators openly accused and punished.

If Aung San was not the first or only foreign leader killed in mysterious circumstances what makes the assassination important is the manner in which foreign intelligence continues to set up organizations to fund locals to overthrow governments and tarnish images of leaders draws parallel to incidents of the past.

Nothing gets said about the foreign funded operators subtly working towards regime change – the National Endowment for Democracy (gets $2.5million annually and has admitted funding key opposition media including the New Era Journal and the Democratic Voice of Burma Radio), the George Soros Open Society Institute, Freedom House and Gene Sharp’s Albert Einstein Institute are all working for US strategic interests. We recently questioned in what ways the Rs.600million given to 3 NGOs in Sri Lanka also was used for Sri Lanka’s regime change!

Where is the accountability for these crimes?

In such a scenario, where is the justice and to whom can nations today in particular the Third World can actually appeal to when the doors of what we believe to be righteousness are operated and controlled by the West whose crimes are never revealed until decades later when officials responsible are either dead or when evidence remains locked up as classified information!

Can we then trust the handshake of goodwill extended by the West to Third World nations when we are well aware of how they plan and plot murders of all leaders that have the ability to unite a nation against western imperialism? Only Gandhi escaped possibly because India was too vast for Gandhi to unite and the British were quick to realize the nature of Indian sepoy mentality and how Indians could easily be made to worship White rule – the assumption holds true for both India and Colombians of Sri Lanka, it is only the nations of Africa that are now rising against servile attitude to challenge the West.

Far more important than the complicity of the British is the fact that Britain and the West are on a witch hunt today of Third World nations pointing fingers and using international media and western biased human rights organizations to project nations as perpetrators of human rights violations when their own past misdeeds are nicely swept under the carpet and their present misadventures never get listed for accountability in international courts that function to protect them.

Democracy has become the marketable tool to descend upon nations – the people of Kosovo, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Egypt have realized too late the lies.

The reality is that for the West the region from Burma to Banda Aceh in Indonesia is likely to become one of the world’s most strategic chokepoints – West is eyeing to control these waters to control China’s energy supplies and explains why China has increased its assistance to Burma as one of its key “strings of pearls”. Oil and gas is another feature that parachutes the West towards Burma. When Obama  champions Aung San Suu Kyi as Burma’s Mandela we know who the West has tapped.

The assassination of Gen. Aung San was investigated by British journalists of the BBC’s Channel 2. It brought to light the manner that Western Governments function and questions natives who adapt “sepoy” attitude whereby despite knowing the calculated manipulations of these Western governments they continue to be mesmerized by the Western attire, Western mannerisms that outwardly hide a dark past of crimes against humanity. It is these individuals who end up bestowed with foreign assignments because they are ever willing to  betray and turn their back on their own nations to function as colonial- servants abandoning the futures of their nation and their fellow citizens.

The West stands guilty of carrying out cold-blooded killings of foreign leaders and has the audacity to fund international media campaigns ridiculing and humiliating nations amongst the world’s masses. Thus, Burma’s protests are described as “saffron-robed revolution”, its leaders are ridiculed because they prefer not to strike deals with double-crossing Western diplomats, they are slapped with sanctions because Burma refuses international monetary systems and every country that says “no” to the west and asserts national sovereign rights enters the West’s list of “repressive governments” and “dictators”. The West today backed by Saudi oil wealth is engaged in a diabolical game of de – constructing ‘Nation’ status and using ‘Human Rights’ as a pretext to intervene  using the formula ‘R2P’ (Responsibility to Protect) in clear violation of national sovereignty. Are we now digressing back to the repressive colonial era?

We cannot accept accountability if accountability excludes crimes against humanity carried out by colonial rulers and the scale of current crimes committed wholesale by the West that include use of banned chemicals (Depleted uranium), intentional aerial strikes on civilian infrastructure, drone attacks that kill civilians, challenge to Westphalian sovereign status of nations, sanctions that have killed millions of children and civilians – so long as none of these crimes are ignored there is no meaning to accountability, and respect for public international law will continue to plummet in third world countries due to its perceived clear lack of neutrality.