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Myanmar Celebrates the 70th Anniversary of Martyrs’ Day

Myanmar held the main state ceremony at the Martyrs’ mausoleum in Yangon on Wednesday (July 19) to mark the country’s 70th Martyrs’ Day to commemorate fallen independence heroes that included General Aung San and eight others who were assassinated on that day in 1947. General Aung San was leader of the majority Anti-Fascist Peoples’ Freedom League party (AFPFL), effectively the Prime Minister of Burma (now Myanmar). It is customary for high-ranking government officials to visit the Martyrs’ Mausoleum in Yangon in the morning of that day to pay respects. State Counselour Aung San Suu Kyi, the parliamentary speakers, senior officials and the military chief Min Aung Hlaing, attending the ceremony laid a lot of condolence wreaths bowing in front of the tombs of independence heroes and paying obeisance. General Aung San, the founder of Myanmar Armed Forces (the Tatmadaw), led the fight for Burmese independence from British colonial rule. Elections were held in April 1947 and while General Aung San emerged as the clear leader of the new government that would lead Myanmar toward independence.

On July 19, 1947, General Aung San, 32, was gunned down along with several colleagues by a political rival in one of the rooms at The Secretariat building while conducting a meeting of the Executive Council on the second floor of the Secretariat Building, for the transfer of power from British to Burma (now Myanmar). They were assassinated by four youths dressed in army uniformed carrying Sten and Tommy guns. The killers dashed upstairs and sprayed the room with blood, killing.

General Aung San, six cabinet ministers including his older brother, a cabinet secretary and bodyguard. He died at the tender age of 32 just months before the country gained independence on Jan 4, 1948. Galon U Saw, the former premier, was convicted of the murder of General Aung San as weapons found in his residence were the same weapons used in the murder; they had been stolen from the British army depot and supplied to him by Major Henry Young and Capt. David Vivien. David Vivien was sentenced to five years in prison but escaped and ended up in the UK. In prison, Saw, before hanging, sent a series of letters to Capt. Vivien threatening to disclose all and demanding money from British Council officer Stuart Bingley who used diplomatic immunity to evade questioning and was quickly packed of to the UK. Saw was executed in 1948 for his role in the assassination. Myanmar’s national flag was flown half-mast across the country on Wednesday to mark the event. Myanmar Radio and Television sounded a siren at 10:37 a.m. local time to observe the time of the assassination of the martyrs. The mausoleum, which has undergone renovations, was opened to the public to come and pay respects for three days starting Wednesday.