General Council of Burmese Associations

   Growing out of the General Council of Buddhist Associations, the peak organization of the Young Men's Buddhist Association (YMBA), the GCBA substituted "Burmese" for "Buddhist" in its English name at its March 1920 national conference in order to have a wider popular appeal. It was the major vehicle of Burmese nationalism before the Saya San (Hsaya San) Rebellion of 1930-1932 and, unlike the YMBA, was a political rather than a cultural-religious organization. Adopting the methods of the Indian National Congress, it led a boycott of the election of Burmese members to the Indian legislature in 1920 and also opposed the government act that established Rangoon (Yangon) University as a degree-granting institution. It had a network of 12,000 local branches in Lower and Upper Burma; worked closely with "political pongyis," including U Ottama; and played a major role in the national schools movement after the university boycott. During the 1920s, however, it was weakened by factionalism and power politics. It split in 1922 over the issue of whether to support or oppose dyarchy reforms, with the "Twenty-One Party" (21 members of the GCBA) participating in the 1923 dyarchy elections, while the "Hlaing-Pu-Gyaw GCBA" boycotted them. In 1924, a further split occurred over the issue of noncooperation in tax payment. The following year, the U Soe Thein faction, also known as the "Pongyis' GCBA," broke away from the mainstream GCBA, proposing a harder line, on against cooperation with the British. By the late 1920s, the GCBA had been largely discredited. In the years before World War II, many of its original leaders collaborated closely with the colonial state.

Historical Dictionary of Burma (Myanmar). . 2014.

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