YANGON — For the first time in decades, visitors to Yangon’s Secretariat building on Martyrs’ Day will get a glimpse as to how Gen Aung San’s office once looked just before the independence hero and his Cabinet were assassinated there 70 years ago.
The Cabinet meeting room inside the western wing of the complex was in use by various administrations since 1905 and served as Gen Aung San’s office. The assassins gunned down him, seven of his Cabinet members, and a bodyguard in that space during a meeting on July 19 in 1947, shortly before the country became a free republic. The date continues to be marked annually as Martyrs’ Day.
The room, once filled with meeting tables and chairs for politicians, has changed much over seven decades. It has been converted into a prayer hall with a Buddhist shrine.
Ma May Thadar Win, a spokesperson of Secretariat Conservation Group, told reporters at a press briefing on Wednesday that the furniture that was in the room during the time of the assassination will be placed exactly as it was during the tragic event in commemoration of the 70th anniversary of Martyrs’ Day.
“Later, we will renovate the room to make it the same as it was in 1947. The family members of the deceased martyrs also agreed to this,” she added.
The furniture, which has never been on display in public and has been kept by the National Museum, will be loaned for one day to the Secretariat for public display.
On the occasion, Ma May Thadar Win said visitors will also be able to see the interior of the partially restored first parliament house, located within the Secretariat compound. It housed the nation’s legislature from 1935 until 1962. Its grounds hosted the ceremony ushering in Myanmar’s independence on January 4, 1948, when the Burmese flag was raised for the first time in front of the parliament house.
The Secretariat was opened to the public for the first time on Martyrs’ Day in 2014, and remains closed for the rest of the year.
In the past, the public has not been allowed to see the room where Gen Aung San and his comrades were assassinated, and access was also limited regarding the parliament house.
An art exhibition will be held for the first time in the Secretariat as well, where 40 paintings by students aged 10 to 14 will be on display, Ma May Thadar Win said.
The Secretariat will be open to the public from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm on July 19.