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Martyr’s Day in Burma observed in silence

New Delhi (mizzima) - Authorities on Sunday turned away several people, who had come to pay their respects to Burma’s Martyrs, including the country’s independence architect General Aung San, as they marched to Rangoon’s Martyr’s Mausoleum to pay tribute to the country’s heroes.

Several members of the opposition party – National League for Democracy – and well wishers on Sunday marched to the Martyr’s Mausoleum but were turned away by the authorities as they were wearing T-shirts with pictures of detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Ohn Kyaing, spokesperson of the NLD, said several of the party members, who wore T-shirts  emblazoned with the picture of Aung San Suu Kyi, were  barred at the entrance of the Martyr’s Mausoleum by authorities.

On the occasion of Burma’s 62nd Martyr’s Day, the NLD held a commemorative service where they paid tributes and honoured the martyrs.

Following the service, scores of members of the NLD and well-wishers including former party member Naw Ohn Hla marched towards the Mausoleum to lay wreaths and to salute the martyrs, but several of them were turned away by authorities as they wore T-shirts with Aung San Suu Kyi’s picture, Ohn Kyaing said.

“But others, who wore other dresses, were allowed into the Mausoleum to pay their respects,” he said.

During the commemorative service held at the NLD office in Rangoon’s Shwegondine Street, where hundreds of party members as well as well wishers and foreign diplomats came, authorities beefed up security and closely monitored the function.

Ohn Kyaing said dozens of plainclothes officials as well as members of the pro-junta civilian organization – Union Solidarity and Development Association and Swan Arrshin – were visible, hanging around the party head office, where the ceremony was held.

The commemorative service included offering of swan to monks at dawn, saluting the martyr’s at noon followed by a programme to honour the deceased independence heroes.

Meanwhile, at the government’s official commemoration service held at the Mausoleum, Rangoon’s Mayor Brig-Gen Aung Thein Linn laid wreaths along with bereaved family members and representatives of the martyrs.

On July 19, 1947, months before Burma officially got Independence from British rule, General Aung San, father of detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, also known as architect of Burma’s independence, along with seven cabinet members and a personal guard were assassinated on the orders of his political rival Galong U Saw.

The day came to be known as Martyr’s Day in honour of the fallen heroes of Burma, who fought for independence from the British rulers, and has been observed as a national holiday and a day of mourning with the government airing special programmes to mark the day.

But since 1988, following a coup by the current batch of military rulers, commemorative programmes including airing of General Aung San’s speech on the state-run radio and orders to hoist national flags at half-mast has been stopped.

With public activities to observe the day petering off, residents in Rangoon said, there are no signs to remind them that today is Martyr’s Day.

“I did not recall that today is Martyr’s Day until you called me,” a Rangoon resident told Mizzima on Sunday.

But Ohn Kyaing said, the essence of Martyr’s Day continues to exist in the hearts of the people, saying, “As we salute the martyrs facing the Mausoleum outside our office, people passing by stood silently with us.”

General Aung San is popularly known as the architect of Burma’s independence for his efforts to negotiate with the British rulers and his attempts at winning the trust of ethnic nationalities in forming a federal union.

Aung San is particularly known for his efforts to convene the historic Pang Long conference in Shan state, where ethnic leaders, particularly Chin, Kachin and Shan, agreed with him, as the Burma representative, to form a federal Union.

His untimely death pushed Burma into a burning civil war as leaders of ethnic nationalities began losing faith in the Union because the new leadership failed to implement the visions of Aung San.

Last Updated ( Monday, 20 July 2009 15:08 )  

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