July 19 is Martyrs’ Day in Burma — a day in which the country remembers the assassination of independence hero Gen. Aung San and seven other leading figures of the country’s independence movement.
In recent weeks, rumors had spread that the military was planning to use the day to present Aung San Suu Kyi to the public, and that she would be transported to her home on Yangon’s New University Avenue.
Such hearsay did, predictably, turn out to be just that — Gen. Aung San’s daughter appears to have spent Martyrs’ Day 2022 in a custom built cell in Naypyidaw Prison.
In Yangon itself, U Wisara, Dhammazedi, and Shwegondaing roads and U Htaung Bo roundabout — usually pulsing with crowds on Martyr’s Day — were blocked off by security forces, according to locals.
The junta had previously announced that visitors who wanted to visit the Martyrs’ Mausoleum on the 75th anniversary of Martyrs’ Day would be allowed access if following COVID-19 prevention measures. In the event, however, media outlets reported that security was tightened near landmarks linked to the occasion, with soldiers barricading access roads and conducting inspections of passersby.
A number of civilians had been killed and injured in explosions in Yangon and other major cities on July 11 and 12 immediately preceding Martyrs’ Day; as a result a heightened military presence meant that crowds, who traditionally mourn the deaths of the country’s independence leaders at 10.37 a.m., were absent from Yangon’s streets. Despite this, car horns sounded in many areas of the city at the allotted time.
Visitors were banned from entering The Secretariat building and security forces blocked off and guarded Thein Phyu, Mahabandoola, Anawrahta and Bo Aung Kyaw roads in downtown. T
he SAC had announced that it would allow people to visit the Aung San Museum and house on Natmauk Road, yet relatives of the general failed to attend a ceremony organized by the military at Martyrs’ Mausoleum this morning.
Min Aung Hlaing also failed to make appearances at the memorial.