Burmese Independence Leader U Ottama Remembered

By Khin Oo Tha 10 September 2014

Events in Arakan State, Rangoon and overseas on Tuesday marked the 75th anniversary of the death of Sayadaw U Ottama, an ethnic Arakanese Buddhist monk who was a key leader in Burma’s fight for independence.

The Arakan State government commemorated the Sayadaw’s demise at U Ottama Hall in Sittwe, and members of social organizations and political parties, locals and students paid tribute to a statue of U Ottama at the park in the state capital named after him.

About 1,000 monks, Arakanese and admirers of the monk attended a ceremony at the MCC Hall in Rangoon.

The attendees in both Sittwe and Rangoon called for the name of Kandawmin Park in Rangoon—near the south entrance to the Shwedagon Pagoda—to be changed back to U Ottama Park. They also want the introduction of U Ottama’s biography into the school curriculum, and the designation of Sept. 9—the day of his passing in 1939—as a public holiday to be known as U Ottama Day.

The anniversary is marked to revive the faded history of Sayadaw U Ottama, who took a lead role in Burma’s independence struggle. He was imprisoned on several occasions by British colonial authorities, and his patriotic fervor and courage inspired younger generations of Burmese, who finally won independence in 1948.

Likewise, the anniversary was held on a grand scale across Arakan State in Kyaukphyu, Taungup, Manaung, Kyauktaw, Ramree, Thandwe, Mrauk-U, Buthidaung and Maungtaw townships, according to local people.

The anniversary was also marked in ceremonies in Thailand, Malaysia, Bangladesh and Japan. Sayadaw U Ottama was born on Dec. 28, 1879 in Sittwe and passed away on Sept. 9, 1939.