x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Aung San Suu Kyi leades 3,000 democracy supporters in Myanmar march

March from the headquarters of Suu Kyi's National League for Democrac yin honour of her father, the nation's independence hero, was ' biggest public demonstration since 2007, when junta launched a bloody crackdown on pro-democracy protesters.

Aung San Suu Kyi arrives with a wreath to pay her respects to her father, the late General Aung San, and eight other leaders who were assassinated on July 19, 1947, at the official ceremony marking the 64th anniversary of Martyrs' Day at a mausoleum near the Shwe Dagon Pagoda in Yangon yesterday.
Aung San Suu Kyi arrives with a wreath to pay her respects to her father, the late General Aung San, and eight other leaders who were assassinated on July 19, 1947, at the official ceremony marking the 64th anniversary of Martyrs' Day at a mausoleum near the Shwe Dagon Pagoda in Yangon yesterday.

YANGON // More than 3,000 democracy supporters led by Aung San Suu Kyi marched in Myanmar's biggest city yesterday in honour of her father, the nation's independence hero.

The short march from the headquarters of Ms Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy to the Martyrs' Mausoleum was the biggest public demonstration since 2007, when the military junta launched a bloody crackdown on pro-democracy protesters.

Ms Suu Kyi earlier attended the government's ceremony at the mausoleum for Martyrs' Day, which marks the anniversary of the 1947 assassination of Gen Aung San and colleagues during a Cabinet meeting shortly after Britain agreed to grant independence to what was then known as Burma.

It was the first time in nine years that Ms Suu Kyi, 66, attended the ceremony. She was under house arrest from May 2003 until last November.

Ms Suu Kyi's prestige as Aung San's daughter vexed the country's military rulers, who ceded power only early this year to an elected but army-backed government. The state-controlled press, which used to carry lengthy tributes to the nation's founding father, stopped such coverage.

It also used to be a tradition for factories to blow their sirens and public activity to stop for a minute in memory of the martyrs. On yesterday, in the vicinity of the march, the tradition was revived, and traffic nearby stopped at 10.37am, the time of the 1947 attack, for a minute of silence.

Yesterday's official ceremony was held under tight security. At least nine truckloads of riot police carrying batons and shields were deployed near the mausoleum and roadblocks set up along the route to the monument. Reporters entering the mausoleum were not allowed to carry phones and bags.

Wearing a white blouse, a black longyi - a Myanmar-style sarong - and a black shawl, Suu Kyi walked up a flight of stairs at the mausoleum accompanied by a police officer.

After saluting before the mausoleum, she paid respects in front of her father's tomb and left three baskets of yellow and red roses.