Aung San of Burma

Welcome India

On behalf of the people of Rangoon and Burma, I feel very happy indeed to welcome to this land of ours, Mr. Sarat Chandra Bose, a well-known leader of Bengal and India and, what is more, a great brother of a greater leader and patriot of India - Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. Mr. Sarat Bose has come to this city to offer the benefits of his legal talents in what is popularly known as "I.N.A. trials." But unfortunately the fascistic bureaucracy in this country, for fear of being exposed in their true, naked colours, cannot persuade themselves to allow patriots of India like Mr. Bose to come in and plead for their compatriots now on trial for "supposed" high crimes and offences committed during the days of Netaji's Provisional Government of Azad Hind. A considerable number of our people in this country too are at this moment facing the same sort of trials for the same kind of "alleged" offences and crimes. Where, in the event of a free India and a free Burma, these people now on trial would have been treated as patriots, they are now taken for such patriotic action that they displayed during the three or four years of the World War which ended a year ago or so, apparently for the satisfaction of bureaucratic pride and retributive justice. We all know very well that these I.N.A. prisoners or the prisoners of our country similarly situated are truly decent and honest citizens incapable of doing wilful wrong to anybody. But then in the eyes of foreign imperialist bureaucracy ruling both our countries, they have become great sinners; almost unpardonably, it seems. Unhappily, such facts serve but to remind us, with relentless pertinacity, of the chains of slavery that bind our two nations still.

During the recent World War II, we heard a lot about "Freedom" and "Democracy". Immediately after war even, we heard so much of "let us forget and forgive" attitude. To our country the British Government declared in their Parliament at that time that they came back not as conquerors but as liberators. During these few months, British Government have been busy staging many a "dumb show and noise" in India, proclaiming to all the world with their hands on their hearts that India would be granted independence if she so desires. But if I shall not be far wrong, all these proclamations will come to nothing in the end and at any rate have not, to our eyes, so far produced any visible result that can lead India as speedily as possible to her goal of national freedom. Instead we have these trials by digging up the past during which they left us to our fate, the past of which they knew nothing and did not care to know anything. And let me ask those highly-placed people responsible for bringing about these trials, this question: Is it how they are directed by the British Government to show their goodwill to India and Burma and to prove their sincerity of purpose in relation to Indian and Burmese Freedom? But I forget, they are our master still, today, whatever they may be tomorrow and therefore what they do as our masters must only be right. For have they not the immortalised motto of their legal wisdom, which says: "The king can do no wrong". And are not their courts of law administering the King's justice in the King's name? It is all a question of bureaucratic pride which, in fact, is no longer impressive to us in any way. But certainly, this is not the right way of showing their goodwill and proving their sincerity of purpose, and they will have themselves to blame if they do not and cannot get any responsive echo from us by having such trials and lawless laws in the world of the words of the late Deshbandhu C.R. Das, such as Defence of Burma Act and emergency laws in our country.

But today, I am not so much concerned with things like goodwill and sincerity of our foreign rulers. In spite of our foreign rulers, in spite of their sincerity or insincerity, both India and Burma will be free in a not too distant future and then, doubtless, all such patriotic prisoners as are now on trial in India and Burma and elsewhere will be free and honourably acquitted. There need be no doubt about this. For the tide of history has now pushed India and Burma inevitably and irresistably to the path of immediate freedom, and that tide cannot be turned back any longer by British imperialism which is today extremely weak economically and militarily. British imperialism, however still hopes to be able to divide our ranks and rule us still longer. We in this country are fully determined to face this prospect and defeat the imperialist game of manoeuvre decisively in a not too distant future. We will not allow ourselves to be divided any more, we will win our freedom none too long. For is it not the inherent right of any people anywhere in the world to strive to win their own freedom, and have they not the right to revolt against any and every form of tyranny, oppression and exploitation, foreign as well as domestic? No nation has the right to rule another nation, and if any oppressed nation attempts to overthrow their oppressors, why should that act be considered treasonable or traitorous? When Netaji Subhas Bose attempted to drive out foreign rulers from his own country during the past three or four years, it was perfectly right of him to do that as a patriot of India. When we did the same sort of thing in our country, both in regard to the British imperialist rule and Japanese Fascist domination, we feel thoroughly justified to have taken such courses, and we pride ourselves for such deeds. There may be some among us in India as well as in Burma who may not agree with what we did because they do feel that we took the correct steps. But who can deny or challenge the patriotism of Netaji or ourselves, who can say definitely that we took the wrong paths? Only history, and none of us, who are too close to events, can definitely give the true verdict. I knew Netaji, even before I met him for the first time in Calcutta in 1940 by reading various accounts of his life of sacrifice and struggle and, last of all, his own book "The India Struggle" which was in these days banned in India and Burma. I knew Netaji, as I came into close and frequent contacts with him during this recent World War. I knew him and I knew his burning love of his country and his people, and his unflinching determination to fight for freedom of his country. I knew him also as a sincere friend of Burma and Burmese peoples. Between him and myself, there was complete mutual trust; and although time was against both of us so that we could not come to the stage of joint action for mutual objects of the freedom of our respective nations, we did have an understanding in those days that, in any event, and whatever happened, the INA and BNA should never fight each other. And I am glad to tell you today that both sides did observe the understanding scrupulously on the whole, during the days when we were up in arms against the Japs.

We have today with us and amongst us the great brother of this great patriot and leader of India - I mean, Mr. Sarat Chandra Bose. We welcome him with open arms. We welcome him with all our heart and soul. We welcome him as one of the leaders of India himself, and we welcome him as a great brother of a great Indian. Let me take the opportunity of telling him that, as far as the AFPFL of which I am President and which is admitted on all lands to be the only popular political organisation in this country is concerned, our policy towards India and Indias in this country is one of the broadest conception and generosity, and Mr. Sarat Bose may find it for himself in the statements, resolutions and speeches of AFPFL which I have presented to him. We have no axe to grind, we nurture no feelings of racial bitterness and ill-will. We stand for friendly relations with any and every nation in the world. Above all, and after all, we stand for more than friendly relations with our neighbours. We want to be not merely good neighbours, but good brothers even, the moment such course should become possible. We stand for Asiatic Federation in a not very, very remote future, we stand for immediate mutual understanding and joint action, whatever and whenever possible, from now for our mutual interests and for the freedom of India, Burma and indeed all Asia. We stand for these, and we trust Indian national leaders in India implicitly. A few months ago, that is, I think, in March, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru stopped for one night in Rangoon on his way back to India from Malaya. At that time, I met him and we discussed these questions for about two hours. And now I am glad to have this further opportunity of having Mr. Sarat Bose in our midst so that we can still elaborate so many of our joint plans and actions together and so that we may hasten the days of Indian and Burmese freedom even much more speedily than they would come. Therefore, once again, on behalf of the people of Rangoon and Burma, I offer Mr. Sarat Bose a heartiest welcome to this city and our land. I would ask Mr. Bose to make himself perfectly at home during his stay in Rangoon for these few days, and he may rest assured that we will do everything possible to make him completely at home.