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Histories of Burma, September 9 2012

Burma (including Shan State) and India traded for hundreds of years, and some Indian people moved to Burma Most of the current Indian population came during the time of British colonialism

The British ruled India since the early 1800s The British had important trading relationships and some political power in India since the 1600s The British used some Indian people to help work in other colonized countries, such as Burma

Chettyar (landlord and moneylender) this word is actually the name of a caste in India who work in business and trade Government workers Manual workers (people who work with their hands, such as rickshaw drivers or dockworkers) Soldiers Engineers Tailors Book makers Jewelry sellers And many more

Many Indians owned the land that Burmese farmers worked on. If the farmers could not pay their rent, then the Indian landlords could take the land The population of Indian workers was growing quickly, and creating competition for jobs and resources Some Burmese people didnt like the British, and saw the Indians as part of their rule

Indian workers had gone on strike at the docks in Rangoon (they had jobs helping load and unload ships coming to and going from Burma) Because the British needed workers, they gave these jobs to Burmese people

The Indians realized that the British would not give them what they wanted, so they came to the docks to take their jobs back At that time, the Burmese workers had already arrived at work. The British took away the jobs from the Burmese workers, and gave them back to the British

Some people say that the Indian workers laughed at the Burmese people, who now had no job and had to go a long way to get back home. This made the Burmese people very angry and a few started fighting with some of the Indians. The Indians fought back. This fighting turned into riots across the city against Indian people. Over 200 Indian people were killed, and over 2,000 were injured. Within 2 days, the riots had spread to other cities.

Anti-Chinese riots led by Burmese mobs started in Chinatown in Rangoon. It was reported that 12 people were killed, and 88 were hurt in the riots.

New violence against Indian people was started by Burmans in Burmas biggest cities General strikes by government workers, students and workers stopped the areas economy Riots started on July 26 in Rangoon, and lasted for a month, causing the deaths of 204 people, and injuries to over 1,000.

What are two reasons that Indian people have moved to Burma in the past? Why was there tension between people in Burma and people from India? Why did the riot at the dock start?

In small groups, please discuss the following questions. Take notes on your discussion. After 10 minutes, well discuss our ideas in a large group.

Do you think these riots could have been prevented? If so, how? If not, why not? Are there similar tensions today in Shan State or Burma? Between what groups? Why?