Nu, U

Nu, U

Nu, U (o͞o no͞o), 1907–95, Burmese political leader, prime minister of Burma (1948–56, 1957–58, 1960–62). A nationalist, he was expelled by the British authorities from the Univ. of Rangoon law school in 1936 for his political activities. He taught school and then became a leader of the Burmese nationalist movement; he assumed the nationalist title Thakin [lord or master] and was known as Thakin Nu until he attained the honorific U. In 1942, with the growing threat of a Japanese invasion, he was imprisoned by the British. Released after the Japanese occupied Burma, he served as foreign minister in the puppet cabinet while organizing an anti-Japanese guerrilla force.

After the war he helped secure (1948) Burma's independence from Britain and was (1948–56) its first premier. He resigned in 1956, returned to power in 1957, but was forced to yield to the army, led by General Ne Win, in 1958. He was reelected in 1960 but in 1962 was deposed and arrested by Ne Win. Released in 1966, he organized (1969) and led from exile in Thailand a movement opposing Ne Win. U Nu continued in exile until 1980, when he returned to Burma (now Myanmar). In 1988 he announced the formation of a symbolic provisional government. The military retained control, however, and from 1989 to 1992 he was placed under house arrest.

A devout Buddhist, U Nu was long the popular spiritual leader of his country. Among his works are The People Win Through (1951), Burma under the Japanese (1954), An Asian Speaks (1955), and his autobiography (1975).


See R. Butwell, U Nu of Burma (1963, repr. 1969).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Nu, U


Born May 25, 1907, in Wakema, near Myaungmya. Burmese statesman and political figure.

Nu graduated from the University of Rangoon in 1929, and in the 1930’s he was president of the university’s student union and treasurer of the Dobama Asi-ayon (Our Burma Association). In 1943–44 he was minister of foreign affairs and in 1944–45, minister of publicity and propaganda in the Ba Maw government, which had been formed by the Japanese occupiers. Nu was speaker of the constituent assembly in 1947. He was vice-president of the Antifascist People’s Freedom League from 1945 to 1947, and he served as president of the league from 1947 to 1958. After the league split in 1958, Nu became leader of the Clean Party (known as the Union Party since 1960).

From August 1947 to January 1948, Nu served as prime minister of the provisional national government of Burma. He was prime minister of the Union of Burma from 1948 to 1956 and again in 1957–58 and from 1960 to 1962. After the Revolutionary Council came to power in 1962, Nu was imprisoned (1962–66). In 1969 he emigrated to Thailand and formed the Parliamentary Democracy Party (PDP). In 1970 he formed an “all nationalities liberation front,” aimed at the forcible overthrow of the government of the Revolutionary Council. In 1973, Nu resigned as leader of the PDP and went to live in India, becoming a Buddhist monk.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.