HC Deb 20 April 1931 vol 251 cc581-3

asked the Secretary of State for India what is the present position in regard to the armed rising in Burma?

15. Colonel HOWARD-BURY

asked the Secretary of State for India whether he has any further information with regard to the extension of the revolt in Burma to the Thayetmyo district?


I am circulating a telegram from the Government of Burma giving the latest information in my possession.


In view of the fact that information has been asked for on several occasions, and it has not been possible to give it, would the right hon. Gentleman consider publishing a White Paper giving full particulars, as there have been heavy casualties and a number of prisoners?


As a result of the Noble Lord's question, I addressed a special inquiry to the Government of Burma, and a long telegram in reply will be published in answer to the Noble Lord.


Is the origin of this rebellion economic or nationalist?


These questions are rather obscure, and the best thing I can do is to put at the service of the House the telegrams of the Government of Burma giving all the information that they have.

Following is the telegram referred to:

1. "The situation in Tharawaddy and Insein Districts is much improved. As is usual in a Burmese rising which began as an attempt to overthrow the Government the rebellion has now developed into dacoities by small bands of rebels and local bad characters. One or two large rebel bands are still believed to exist but three important leaders have recently been killed and captured. Even dacoities are now decreasing in number and resistance by villagers to dacoits is increasing. The problem now is to restore normal civil administration in the disturbed area and measures are being taken with this end in view. In the Henzada district the position is much the same. Dacoity still continues but, it is hoped, the situation is under control. The Pyapon District has been quiet since the defeat of rebels in January, and 100 persons are now under trial by a special tribunal. Over a thousand were arrested in the Tharawaddy, Insein and Henzada Districts. More than half, however, have already been released either because of lack of evidence or because it was clear that they had been coerced into joining rebellion.

2. The most serious development in the last fortnight has been the outbreak in the Thayetmyo District. Reports received indicated that the rising was fomented by a monk who had taken leading part in Henzada rebellion and who had escaped from that district. Secret preparations were made in the usual way by tattooing villagers. As soon as information was received the District Superintendent of Police proceeded to the area with a force of Military Police and rebellion broke out the same day. The police have come in contact with the rebels twice and have dispersed them on both occasions. Unfortunately in the second encounter Mr. Smith, the District Superintendent of Police, was severely wounded in the thigh. He is in Rangoon hospital and is said to be progressing favourably. Troops and Military Police have been sent to the area. Their aim is to localise the rebellion and local officers have sufficient forces at their disposal for this purpose.

3. These risings are of a kind formerly common in Burma. The superstition and ignorance of the peasantry were exploited and risings began as definite attempts to overthrow the Government. As soon as that failed it turned into indiscriminate dacoity in which local bad characters joined. Economic distress due to low price of rice and paddy, has helped to create conditions favourable to the risings. The conduct of troops and police has been excellent and their loyalty unswerving."

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