Aung San, Assassination of

   Around 10:30 A.M. on Saturday, July 19, 1947, four men armed with automatic weapons entered an upper-floor room of the Secretariat building (now the Ministers' Building) in downtown Rangoon (Yangon), where Aung San was holding a meeting of the Executive Council, Burma's interim government before independence. They killed Aung San, six other members of the Council, and two others, a crime that, from the perspective of Burma's subsequent history, was a major national tragedy. The country's most able political leader lost his life at the age of 32. The gunmen were followers of U Saw, a political rival, who, according to some accounts, wanted revenge after having been wounded in an assassination attempt that he believed was carried out on Aung San's orders. But at the trial of U Saw and his followers, it was revealed that he had ordered the killing of the entire Executive Council in the mistaken hope that, with Aung San and his colleagues out of the way, the British would appoint him independent Burma's first prime minister. Thakin Nu was another intended victim, but he was not in the Secretariat at the time of the attack.
   Like the assassination of U.S. President John F. Kennedy, the assassination of Aung San is surrounded by some controversy. Elements in the British army came under suspicion when it was discovered that U Saw was deeply involved in an arms-procurement conspiracy with a Captain David Vivian and other officers. Some Burmese suggest that Ne Win instigated the plot, using U Saw and his henchmen. But the evidence is scanty and contradictory. July 19 is commemorated annually as Martyrs' Day, though its importance has been deemphasized since the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) came to power in 1988.
   See also Aung San, Legacy of.

Historical Dictionary of Burma (Myanmar). . 2014.

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