On This Day

When Ethnic Areas Joined ‘Burma Proper’ for Independence

By Wei Yan Aung 20 March 2019

The period between March 19 and April 21, 1947 was an important time in Myanmar’s independence when in accordance with the Aung San-Atlee Agreement, the Rees-Williams Commission was formed and tasked with determining whether Myanmar’s “frontier areas” would gain independence from British rule together with Burma proper.

The Rees-Williams Commission, officially called the Frontier Areas Committee of Enquiry, held hearings during this period in Yangon and Pyin Oo Lwin, then called Maymyo. Despite varying wishes from different ethnic groups—including to stay out of Burma even after independence—the committee’s final report concluded that the majority of ethnic groups in the frontier areas would gain independence along with Burma proper.

The governor’s executive council and the British government accepted the report by the committee which was made up of leaders from Burma proper and frontier areas and led by Labor Party lawmaker Rees-Williams. Myanmar became an independent country in January 1948.