Uncertainty Over Whether Suu Kyi Will Attend Martyrs’ Day Event

By The Irrawaddy 16 July 2021

Myanmar marks Martyrs’ Day on July 19 and it is unknown if detained State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi will be allowed to mark the assassination in 1947 of her father General Aung San and eight colleagues from the independence movement.

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi was put under house arrest for the first time on July 20, 1989, under the 1975 State Protection Act. She spent 15 years under house arrest between 1989 and 2010, with brief periods where she was released, under the State Law and Order Restoration Council and its successor the State Peace and Development Council, but was allowed by military dictator Than Shwe to attend Martyrs’ Day events.

It was often the only time citizens saw the democratic leader on television, wearing a light-colored, long-sleeve blouse, dark longyi and shawl, hurriedly laying a wreath at the Martyrs’ Mausoleum in Yangon.

Then she would be taken back to 54 University Avenue Road in Bahan, where she was confined.

In 2011, a year after her release from house arrest, pictures of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi attending Martyrs’ Day were first published in the state-run newspapers.

The event was only attended by ministers or Yangon’s mayor under military rule. A state-level ceremony was held under the quasi-civilian government in 2012 for the first time in five decades, presided over by a vice-president.

The Martyrs’ Day event was attended for the first time by the president in 2019, three years after the National League for Democracy took office in 2016.

Senior General Min Aung Hlaing salutes General Aung San and his eight murdered colleagues at the Martyrs’ Mausoleum in Yangon on July 19, 2016. / The Irrawaddy

In 2016, military chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing and wife Daw Kyu Kyu Hla were present when Daw Aung Suu Kyi offered meals to monks in remembrance of her father and his colleagues on July 19 at her home in Yangon. It was the first visit of a military chief to her house since then Senior General Saw Maung attended the wake for her mother Daw Khin Kyi in 1988.

In the years that followed, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing and the military-appointed vice-president laid wreaths with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and the president on Martyrs’ Day.

During the Feb. 1 coup, U Win Myint and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi were detained and military-appointed Vice-President U Myint Swe handed power to Min Aung Hlaing that day.

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, now being detained in an unknown location in Naypyitaw, faces up to 75 years in jail on multiple charges.

It remains to be seen if dictator Min Aung Hlaing, who was handpicked by Than Shwe, will allow Daw Aung San Suu Kyi to attend the coming 74th anniversary of Martyrs’ Day on July 19.

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