Shan - A Brief History
“Shan” comes from the Burmese rendering of “Siam” or “Siem” the name by which the ancient Khmer or Cambodians call the Tai or Thai People. The Shan are members of the Tai Speaking Peoples who today live in northeastern India, Burma & the Federated Shan States, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and south & southwestern China. In 1957, Premier Chou-en-lai said that there are over 100 million Tai or Dai Speaking Peoples in the People’s Republic of China.
Historically Shan or Tai Kingdoms & Principalities have stretched from northeast India through Southeast Asia and into south & southwestern China and the Shan today are linguistically and culturally closely related to modern Thailand and Laos.
In the late 19th century the Shan Principalities on the Shan Plateau were annexed by the British following their conquest of the Burmese kingdom of Mandalay and British Burma then consisted of the Shan States, “Burma Proper” and the Frontier Areas.
Administratively, the Shan States as a Protectorate ruled themselves & had autonomy in internal affairs separate from “Burma Proper” which was governed directly by the British Governor in Rangoon – and indeed Banknotes of British Burma were inscribed in English, Shan & Burmese.
After the end of WWII the Shan Princes & Representatives in 1946 convened the First Panglong Conference in the Shan States attended also by Leaders & Representatives of the British Burma Frontier Areas. A second Conference was called in 1947 to which the Burmese came as Observers and it was at this second Conference that General Aung San of the Burmese tabled a proposal to include “Burma Proper” in forming a Union. In the vote that followed, the Shan narrowly by a margin of 51:49%, voted for the Union of equal partnership and because of this decision take by the Shan, the Chin, Kachin & Karenni also ratified the Panglong Agreement which also specified the Right of Secession – a Right that is also recognized in the 1948 Union of Burma Constitution, Chapter X specifically stating the Shan State’s Right to Secede from the Union of Burma after 10 years.
Following the second Burmese military coup in 1962, the Shan State has lost all its autonomy and is now under Nazi-like occupation of the Burmese SPDC regime. In 2000, 2004 & 2006, Shan Leaders secretly and clandestinely held meetings and canvassed the people of the Se-Viengs or Counties of the Shan lands resulting in 2000 & 2004 in a 48:14 voting for independence and that majority rising to 54:8 or 87% majority for independence in 2006.
On April 17, 2005 President Prince Hso-khan-pha of Yawnghwe, under instructions from the Shan Leadership inside occupied Federated Shan States (consisting of Shan, Palaung, Pa-O, Kokang States and other ethnic communities), made a Declaration of Independence and the Shan Government is now working to fulfill its Mandate for Independence and to deliver humanitarian relief to the victims of Burmese SPDC atrocities and war crimes.