1898 – 1947
Who was U Razak?
U Razak was a Burmese politician and an educationalist. He was a cabinet minister in Aung San's pre-independence interim government, and was assassinated on 19 July 1947 along with six other cabinet ministers. July 19 is commemorated each year as Martyrs' Day in Myanmar. Razak was Minister of Education and National Planning, and was chairman of the Burma Muslim Congress.
Abdul Razak was born in Meiktila, Upper Burma, on 20 January 1898 to Sheik Abdul Rahman, an Indian police inspector and a Burmese Buddhist woman Nyein Hla. While his brothers and sisters chose to be Buddhists, he maintained the Muslim name Razak, in honor of his father. Although nominally Muslim, Razak was a secularist who deeply loved Burma and encouraged unity in diversity. He studied at the Wesleyan School in Mandalay, and continued his studies at the Rangoon College, earning a B.A. degree in English. Throughout his school years, Razak was involved in athletics.
In 1920, Razak was a leader in organizing the first Burmese student boycott to the British colonial education system. In 1921, he became headmaster of Mandalay National High School. Razak's natural charisma was effective in persuading the Mandalayans. Mandalay, where he taught, was a center of Burmese Buddhist faith and culture. Yet Razak, of ethnic Indian-Burmese origin, was fully accepted by the community. When Japan invaded Burma in World War II, he was imprisoned.