यू. थांट (मृत्यु- 25 नवम्बर, 1974)
यू. थांट ( जन्म- 22 जनवरी, 1909; मृत्यु- 25 नवम्बर, 1974) बर्मा के राजनयिक थे। वे संयुक्त राष्ट्र के तीसरे महासचिव थे। सितंबर, 1961 में जब संयुक्त राष्ट्र के दूसरे महासचिव डैग हैमरस्क्जोंल्ड का निधन हो गया, तब यू. थांट महासचिव नियुक्त हुए थे। संयुक्त राष्ट्र महासचिव के रूप में अपने कार्यकाल के दौरान उनकी सबसे उल्लेखनीय उपलब्धियों में से एक थी- 'क्यूबाई मिसाइल संकट के दौरान जॉन एफ कैनेडी और निकिता क्रुश्चेव के बीच वार्ता कराना', इससे एक बहुत बड़ी तबाही होने से बच गई थी। थांट बौद्ध धर्म के अनुयाई थे।
यू. थांट का जन्म 22 जनवरी सन 1909 को बर्मा के पंटानव में हुआ था। उनकी प्रारंभिक शिक्षा पंटानव के नेशनल हाईस्कूल से हुई। तत्पश्चात उन्होंने रंगून विश्वविद्यालय से इतिहास विषय के साथ उच्च शिक्षा प्राप्त की। वे एक चावल व्यापारी के परिवार में पैदा हुए थे। यू. थांट अपने चार भाइयों में सबसे बड़े थे। ब्रिटिश शासन काल के दौरान उनके पिता पो हानित ने कोलकाता से उच्च शिक्षा प्राप्त करने के बाद "दि सन रंगून" नामक समाचार पत्र को एक मानक के रूप मे स्थापित किया। जब थांट 14 वर्ष के थे, तब उनके पिता की मृत्यु हो गयी। विरासत के विवादों के कारण कठिन और विपरीत आर्थिक संकटों में उनकी माँ नान थोंग ने उनकी और अन्य तीन बच्चों की परवरिश की। उनके साथ-साथ उनके तीनों भाई यू खंट, यू थौंग और टिन मौंग भी आगे चलकर राजनेता और प्रखर विद्वान बने।
विश्वविद्यालयी शिक्षा प्राप्त करने के बाद थांट पंटानव लौट आए और नेशनल हाईस्कूल में अध्यापन का कार्य प्रारम्भ किया। पच्चीस साल की उम्र में ये उसी विद्यालय के प्रधानाध्यापक बने। इसी दौरान वे भावी प्रधानमंत्री यू नु के संपर्क में आए और उनके करीबी दोस्त बन गए। थांट ने थाइलवा के नाम से कई बड़े पत्र व पत्रिकाओं में नियमित रूप से आलेख और स्तंभ लिखे। कई पुस्तकें लिखीं, जिसमें से एक पुस्तक "लीग ऑफ नेशंस" का उन्होंने अनुवाद भी किया।
स्वतन्त्रता के पश्चात जब यू नु बर्मा के प्रधानमंत्री बने, तब उन्होंने 1948 में यू. थांट को रंगून आने का निमंत्रण दिया और एक महत्वपूर्ण दायित्व देते हुये प्रसारण निदेशक का उत्तरदायित्व सौंपा। अगले वर्ष में वे सूचना एवं प्रसारण मंत्रालय (बर्मा) में सचिव के पद पर नियुक्त हुये। 1951 से 1957 तक थांट प्रधानमंत्री के सचिव रहे। इस दौरान वे यू नु के लिए भाषण लिखने, उनकी विदेश यात्रा की व्यवस्था करने और विदेशी पर्यटकों के साथ बैठक आदि की व्यवस्था संभालते रहे। इस पूरी अवधि के दौरान वे यू नु के करीबी विश्वासपात्र और सलाहकार थे।
3 नवम्बर, 1961 को यू. थांट ने संयुक्त राष्ट्र महासचिव का पद ग्रहण किया, जब वे सर्वसम्मति से संयुक्त राष्ट्र महासभा और संयुक्त राष्ट्र सुरक्षा परिषद की सिफारिश पर संयुक्त राष्ट्र सुरक्षा परिषद के प्रस्ताव 168, संकल्प 168 के अंतर्गत डैग हैमरस्क्जोंल्ड के स्थान पर महासचिव नियुक्त किए गए। 30 नवम्बर, 1962 को उन्हें संयुक्त राष्ट्र महासभा के द्वारा प्रस्ताव पारित करके पुन: 30 नवम्बर, 1966 को समाप्त होने वाली अवधि के बाद हेतु महासचिव नियुक्त किया गया। इस पद पर वे 31 दिसम्बर, 1971 तक रहे। 1965 में उन्हें अंतर्राष्ट्रीय सद्भाव के लिए 'जवाहरलाल नेहरू पुरस्कार' प्रदान किया गया था।
25 नवम्बर, 1974 को न्यूयॉर्क में फेफड़ों के कैंसर से यू. थांट की मृत्यु हो गयी। उल्लेखनीय है कि 2 मार्च, 1962 को यू नु की सरकार के तख्तापलट के बाद नि बिन ने बर्मा शासन को सम्भाला। इसीलिए तात्कालिक राष्ट्रपति नि बिन यू. थांट से ईर्ष्या करते थे। उन्होंने थांट की मृत्यु के बाद आदेश जारी किया था कि यू. थांट को किसी भी सरकारी भागीदारी या समारोह के बिना ही दफन किया जाये। यही कारण था कि जब न्यूयार्क स्थित संयुक्त राष्ट्र मुख्यालय से उनके मृत शरीर को रंगून ले जाया गया, तब रंगून हवाई अड्डे पर तात्कालिन उपशिक्षामंत्री के अलावा अन्य कोई सरकारी अधिकारी या बर्मा सरकार के उच्च पदस्थ व्यक्ति मौजूद नहीं थे। बाद में उस उपशिक्षामंत्री को तात्कालिक बर्मा सरकार ने बर्खास्त कर दिया था। कहा जाता है कि अंतर्राष्ट्रीय कद देकर बर्मी जनता ने उन्हें जो सर्वोच्च सम्मान दिया, वह किसी भी बड़े सम्मान से कहीं ज्यादा बड़ा है। वे आज भी बर्मी जनता के दिलों में बसे हुये है।
म्यांमार सरकार ने संयुक्त राष्ट्र के पूर्व महासचिव यू. थांट के यांगून स्थित आवास को संग्रहालय में तब्दील कर दिया है। यू. थांट की पुत्री अय अय थांट के नेतृत्व में एक दल संग्रहालय की देखरेख करता है। यह संग्रहालय, यू थांट इंस्टीट्यूट द्वारा संचालित किए जा रहे शैक्षिक कार्यक्रमों की जानकारी प्रदान करता है। यहां संयुक्त राष्ट्र के तीसरे महासचिव रहे यू. थांट की तस्वीरों और उनके दस्तावेजों को भी प्रदर्शित किया गया है। अंतर्राष्ट्रीय मंच पर यू. थांट को एक सर्वाधिक आदरणीय नेता माना जाता रहा है। उन्होंने म्यांमार और विश्व स्तर पर शांति प्रक्रियाओं में बड़ी भूमिका निभाई थी।
एम. एस. सुब्बुलक्ष्मी जो कि भारत के सर्वोच्च नागरिक सम्मान 'भारत रत्न' से सम्मानित होने वाली पहली भारतीय संगीतकार थीं, उन्हें अक्तूबर, 1966 में संयुक्त राष्ट्र के तत्कालीन महासचिव यू. थांट ने संयुक्त राष्ट्र महासभा में प्रस्तुति देने के लिए आमंत्रित किया था। सुब्बुलक्ष्मी वहां प्रस्तुति देने वाली पहली भारतीय कलाकार थीं।
U Thant ( 22 January 1909 – 25 November 1974), known honorifically as U Thant, was a Burmese diplomat and the third Secretary-General of the United Nations from 1961 to 1971, the first non-European to hold the position. He held the office for a record 10 years and one month (3,684 days).
A native of Pantanaw, Thant was educated at the National High School and at the Rangoon University. In the days of tense political climate in Burma, he held moderate views positioning himself between fervent nationalists and British loyalists. He was a close friend of Burma's first Prime Minister U Nu and served various positions in Nu's cabinet from 1948 to 1961. Thant had a calm and unassuming demeanor which won his colleagues' respect.
He was appointed as Secretary-General in 1961, when his predecessor, Dag Hammarskjöld, died in an air crash. In his first term, Thant facilitated negotiations between U.S. President John F. Kennedy and Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev during the Cuban Missile Crisis (1962), helping to avert a global catastrophe. Later, in December 1962, Thant ordered Operation Grandslam, which ended a secessionist insurgency in Congo. He was reappointed as Secretary-General on 2 December 1966 by a unanimous vote of the Security Council. In his second term, Thant was well known for publicly criticizing American conduct in the Vietnam War. He oversaw the entry of several newly independent African and Asian states into the UN. Thant refused to serve a third term and retired in 1971.
Thant died of lung cancer in 1974. A devout Buddhist and the foremost Burmese diplomat who served on the international stage, Thant was widely admired and held in great respect by the Burmese populace. When the military government refused him any honours, riots broke out in Rangoon, but they were violently crushed by the government, leaving scores of casualties.
"U" is an honorific in Burmese, roughly equal to "Mr". "Thant" was his only name, per Burmese convention. In Burmese, he was known as Pantanaw U Thant, in reference to his hometown, Pantanaw.
Thant, the eldest of four sons, was born in Pantanaw, colonial Burma, to a moderately wealthy family of landowners and rice merchants. Educated in Calcutta, Thant's father Po Hnit was the only person in the town who could communicate well in English. He was a founding member of the Burma Research Society and had helped establish The Sun (Thuriya) newspaper in Rangoon. Although his family members were ethnic Bamars and devout Buddhists, Thant's father, according to Thant Myint-U (U Thant's grandson), had distant ancestors who were "people from both India and China, Buddhists and Muslims, as well as Shans and Mons". He hoped that all his four sons would each earn a degree. His other sons, Khant, Thaung, and Tin Maung went on to become politicians and scholars.
Po Hnit had collected a personal library of various American and British books and cultivated a reading habit among his children. As a result, Thant became an avid reader and his school friends nicknamed him "The Philosopher". Apart from reading, he enjoyed various sports including hiking, swimming and playing chinlone. He went to the National High School in Pantanaw. At the age of eleven, Thant participated in strikes against the University Act of 1920. He dreamed of becoming a journalist and surprised the family by writing an article for the Union of Burma Boy Scouts magazine. When Thant was fourteen, his father died and a series of inheritance disputes forced Thant's mother, Nan Thaung, and her four children into difficult financial times.
After the death of his father, Thant believed he would not be able to complete a four-year degree and instead worked for a two-year teaching certificate at Rangoon University in 1926. As the oldest son, he had to fulfill his filial duties and responsibilities of the family. At university, Thant, together with Nu, the future Prime Minister of Burma, studied history under D. G. E. Hall. Nu was told by a distant mutual relative to take care of Thant and the two soon became close friends. Thant was elected joint secretary of the University Philosophical Association and secretary of the Literary and Debating Society. In Rangoon, Thant met J.S. Furnivall, the founder of The Burma Book Club and The World of Books magazine, in which Thant regularly contributed. Promising a good post, Furnivall urged Thant to complete four-year university course and join Civil Service but Thant refused. After earning the certificate, he returned to Pantanaw to teach at the National High School as a senior teacher in 1928. He contacted Furnivall and Nu regularly, writing articles and participating in The World of Books translation competitions.
In 1931, Thant won first place in All Burma Teachership Examination and became the school's headmaster by the age of twenty-five. Urged by Thant, his friend Nu took the local superintendent of schools position. Thant regularly contributed to several newspapers and magazines under the pen name "Thilawa" and translated a number of books, including one on the League of Nations. His major influences were Sir Stafford Cripps, Sun Yat-sen and Mahatma Gandhi. In the days of tense political climate in Burma, Thant stood moderate grounds between fervent nationalists and British loyalists.
During the World War II, the Japanese occupied Burma from 1942 to 1945. They brought Thant to Rangoon to lead the Educational Reorganizing Committee. However, Thant did not have any real power and returned to Pantanaw. When the Japanese ordered making Japanese compulsory in Pantanaw high schools, Thant defied the orders and cooperated with the growing anti-Japanese resistance.
In 1948, Burma gained independence from the United Kingdom. Nu became the prime minister of the newly independent Burma and appointed Thant as director of broadcasting in 1948. By then, civil war had broken out. The Karen insurgency began and Thant risked his life to go to Karen camps to negotiate for peace. The negotiations broke down, and in 1949 the advancing insurgents burned his hometown, including his house. The insurgents pushed the front to within four miles of the capital Rangoon before they were beaten back. In the following year, Thant was appointed secretary to the government of Burma in the Ministry of Information. From 1951 to 1957, Thant was secretary to the prime minister, writing speeches for U Nu, arranging his foreign travel, and meeting foreign visitors. During this entire period, he was U Nu's closest confidant and advisor.
He also took part in a number of international conferences and was the secretary of the 1955 Bandung Conference in Indonesia, which gave birth to the Non-Aligned Movement. From 1957 to 1961, he was Burma's permanent representative to the United Nations and became actively involved in negotiations over Algerian independence. In 1961, Thant was named Chairman of the UN Congo Commission. The Burmese government awarded him the title Maha Thray Sithu as a commander in the order of Pyidaungsu Sithu.
In September 1961, United Nations Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld was killed in a plane crash en route to Congo. The Security Council hurriedly searched for a new Secretary-General, but over the next few weeks it was in a deadlock, with the United States and the Soviet Union unable to agree on any candidate proposed by other members. The superpowers backed down when representatives from smaller nations and the Non-Aligned Movement proposed Thant to fill Hammarskjöld's unexpired term.[ On 3 November 1961, Thant was unanimously appointed as acting Secretary-General by the General Assembly, on the recommendation of the Security Council in Resolution 168. On 30 November 1961, the General Assembly unanimously appointed him secretary-general for a term of office ending on 3 November 1966. During his first term, he was widely credited for his role in defusing the Cuban Missile Crisis and for ending the civil war in the Congo. He also said that he wanted to ease tensions between major powers while serving at the UN.
Thant died of lung cancer in New York on 25 November 1974. By that time, Burma was ruled by a military junta which refused him any honours. The then Burmese president Ne Win was envious of Thant's international stature and the respect that was accorded him by the Burmese populace. Ne Win also resented Thant's close links with the democratic government of U Nu which Ne Win had overthrown in a coup d'état on 2 March 1962. Ne Win ordered Thant be buried without any official involvement or ceremony.
From the United Nations headquarters in New York where he was laid in state, Thant's body was flown back to Rangoon, but no guard of honour or high-ranking officials were on hand at the airport when the coffin arrived except for U Aung Tun, deputy minister of education, who was subsequently dismissed from office.On the day of Thant's funeral on 5 December 1974, tens of thousands of people lined the streets of Rangoon to pay their last respects. Thant's coffin was displayed at Rangoon's Kyaikasan race course for a few hours before the scheduled burial. The coffin of Thant was then snatched by a group of students just before it was scheduled to leave for burial in an ordinary Rangoon cemetery. The student demonstrators buried Thant on the former grounds of the Rangoon University Students Union (RUSU), which Ne Win had dynamited and destroyed on July 8, 1962.
During the period of 5–11 December, the student demonstrators also built a temporary mausoleum for Thant on the grounds of the RUSU and gave anti-government speeches. In the early morning hours of 12 December 1974, government troops stormed the campus, killed some of the students guarding the makeshift mausoleum, removed Thant's coffin, and reburied in Kandawmin Garden Mausolea near the Shwedagon Pagoda, where it has continued to lie.Upon hearing of the storming of the Rangoon University campus and the forcible removal of Thant's coffin, many people rioted in the streets of Rangoon. Martial law was declared in Rangoon and the surrounding metropolitan areas. What has come to be known as the U Thant crisis—the student-led protests over the shabby treatment of Thant by the Ne Win government—was crushed by the Burmese government.
In 1978, Thant's memoirs, View from the UN, were posthumously published, initially by Doubleday.
In April 2012, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon paid his respects at U Thant's mausoleum during a visit to Yangon.