69th Martyrs’ Day commemorated without restrictions across Myanmar

YANGON (Myanmar Eleven/ANN) - Grand celebrations marking the 69th Martyrs’ Day were held across the country without restrictions for the first time since 1988.

Over the last 16 years, successive Myanmar governments held ceremonies for Martyrs’ Day on a small scale, discouraging public participation. People were prohibited from sounding sirens to signal a minute of silence at 10:37am - the time when nine prominent independence leaders were assassinated on July 19, 1947. The current government organised an official state event for the occasion.   

Vice President Myint Swe, Lower House Speaker Win Myint, Upper House Speaker Mahn Win Khaing Than, Union Chief Justice Tun Tun Oo and Commander-in-Chief of Defence Services Senior General Min Aung Hlaing attended the ceremony in honour of the 69th Martyrs’ Day at the Martyrs’ Mausoleum in Bahan Township, Yangon Region, and laid the wreaths in tribute to the martyrs.

Aung San Oo, the son of General Aung San, did not attend the ceremony. However, on behalf of Aung San Oo and his wife Lei Lei Nwe Thein, an anonymous man laid the wreath and paid tribute to the martyrs.

Aung San Suu Kyi, the daughter of General Aung San, who is also the state counsellor in the Myanmar government, attended the event, laid a wreath and paid tribute to the martyrs. Relatives of other martyrs did the same, as did members of parliament, Union ministers, the chief minister of Yangon Region and officials from political parties, foreign embassies and NGOs.

The ceremony was the first during the term of the new government led by the NLD, and the Martyrs’ Mausoleum was packed with tens of thousands of people. Similar events were held in Mandalay, Magway, Hinthada, Mawlamyine, Homalin, Myaungmya, Dawei, Taunggyi, Myawady, Indaw, Hpa-an, Taungdwingyi, Pyay, Meikhtila, Ann, Gwa and Taungup.  

The unrestricted celebration of Martyrs’ Day was meant to showcase liberty, the unity of state leaders and consolidation between the government and the people.

“I see a delightful day coming on which we can build a country together. Buddhists, Muslims and Christians were among the martyrs who sacrificed their lives. All the martyrs represented the whole country. The government formed by Bogyoke Aung San can be considered the true Union government. The martyrs represent all ethnicities and all religions. The leaders of the country attending such a ceremony will be a good sign for national unity. Bogyoke Aung San stressed the need to form a cabinet comprising people of different ethnicities and religions. Now is the time to build the country together. Trust and unity are the main factors in building the country,” said political observer Dr Min Nyo.

Yangon-based university students gathered at Maha Bandoola Park this morning and marched toward the Secretariat Office. They sounded a siren at 10:37am to signal a minute of silence.

“Today’s ceremony is the one filled with full political essences. The students’ unions are satisfied as they were allowed to enter the Secretariat Office to pay tribute to the martyr leaders,” said Nan Lin, a Dagon University student.

Statues of General Aung San and the Bogyoke Museum in Yangon were teeming with visitors on Martyrs’ Day, which fell on July 19. The Secretariat Office, where Bogyoke Aung San and his comrades were assassinated, was also packed with visitors.