Burmese Martyrs' Day
|Next time||19 July 2014|
Martyrs' Day (Burmese: အာဇာနည်နေ့, pronounced: [ʔàzànì nḛ]) is a Burmese national holiday observed on 19 July to commemorate Gen. Aung San and seven other leaders of the pre-independence interim government—Thakin Mya, Ba Cho, Abdul Razak, Ba Win, Mahn Ba Khaing, Sao San Tun and Ohn Maung—all of whom were assassinated on that day in 1947. It is customary for high-ranking government officials to visit the Martyrs' Mausoleum in Yangon in the morning of that day to pay respects.
On July 19, 1947, at approximately 10:37 a.m., BST, several of Burma's independence leaders were gunned down by a group of armed men in uniform while they were holding a cabinet meeting at the Secretariat in downtown Yangon. The assassinations were planned by a rival political group, and the leader and alleged master-mind of that group Galon U Saw, together with the perpetrators, were tried and convicted by a special tribunal presided by Kyaw Myint with two other Barristers-at-law, Aung Thar Gyaw and Si Bu. In a judgment given on 30 December 1947 the tribunal sentenced U Saw and a few others to death and the rest were given prison sentences. Appeals to the High Court of Burma by U Saw and his accomplices were rejected on 8 March 1948. In a judgment written by Supreme Court Justice E Maung (1898–1977) on 27 April 1948 the Supreme Court refused leave to appeal against the original judgment. (All the judgments of the tribunal, the High Court and the Supreme Court were written in English. The judgment of the tribunal can be read in "A Trial in Burma" by Dr Maung Maung (Martinus Njhoff, 1963) and the judgment of the High Court and Supreme Court can be read in the 1948 Burma Law Reports.)
The President of Burma Sao Shwe Thaik refused to pardon or commute the sentences of most of those who were sentenced to death, and U Saw was hanged inside Rangoon's Insein jail on 8 May 1948. A number of perpetrators met the same fate. Others, who had played relatively minor roles and were sentenced to various terms of imprisonment, also spent several years in prison.
The assassinated were:
- Aung San, Prime Minister
- Ba Cho, Minister of Information
- Mahn Ba Khaing, Minister of Industry
- Ba Win, Minister of Trade
- Thakin Mya, Minister of Home Affairs
- Abdul Razak, Minister of Education and National Planning
- Sao San Tun, Minister of Hills Regions
- Ohn Maung, Deputy Minister of Transport
- Ko Htwe, Bodyguard of Razak
Tin Tut, Minister of Finance, was seriously wounded but survived. Many Burmese believe that the British had a hand in the assassination plot one way or another; two British officers were also arrested at the time and one of them charged and convicted for supplying an agent of U Saw with arms and munitions enough to equip a small army, a large part of which was recovered from a lake next to U Saw's house in the immediate aftermath of the shooting.
Soon after the assassinations, Sir Hubert Rance, the British governor of Burma appointed U Nu to head an interim administration and when Burma became independent on 4 January 1948, Nu became the first Prime Minister of independent Burma. July 19 was designated a public holiday and to be known as Martyr's Day.
Poem for Martyr's Day
Aung San Zarni
Born on February 13 was he
- "63rd Anniversary of Martyrs' Day Held at the Martyrs' Mausoleum, Yangon". Bi-Weekly Eleven (in Burmese) 3 (13). 2010-07-23.
- "Who Killed Aung San?, an interview with Gen. Kyaw Zaw". The Irrawaddy. August 1997.