Young Dissidents Remember Aung San
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Sunday, March 29, 2020
Burma

Young Dissidents Remember Aung San


By SAW YAN NAING Thursday, February 12, 2009


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An underground dissident group in Rangoon has voiced its continued support for Burma’s independence hero, Gen Aung San, on the eve of the 94th anniversary of his birth.   

Speaking to The Irrawaddy on Thursday, Moe Thway, a spokesman for the dissident organization Generation Wave, said, “Gen Aung San is a hero who opposed oppression. The current Burmese leaders are trying to hide his image.”

Since November, Generation Wave has launched a series of underground activities honoring Aung San, the father of detained pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, in defiance of the ruling junta.

The activities include circulating notes of currency stamped with Aung San’s image and distributing postcards in Rangoon bearing slogans such as “We won’t forget Aung San’s birthday!” “Don’t forget Martyrs’ Day!” and “Accept the legacy of Aung San!” 
 
Generation Wave was founded after the Saffron Revolution in 2007 by Rangoon youths, including Burmese celebrities. However, several members were arrested and jailed, and the group remains underground. It frequently provides information to exiled media, including The Irrawaddy.

“We launched these activities because we want to show that we hadn’t forgotten the spirit of Gen Aung San,” said Moe Thway.

Aung San, the founder of the Union of Burma, was born on February 13, 1915, in Natmauk in Magwe Division in central Burma.

He was highly respected—not only by Burman people, but also by the various ethnic groups of Burma—for his efforts in winning independence from Great Britain. However, he was assassinated by an armed group along with six comrades at a cabinet meeting in Rangoon on 19 July, 1947, a date now commemorated in Burma as Martyrs’ Day.

The anniversary of Aung San’s birthday, February 13, is recognized as Children’s Day in Burma and is celebrated throughout the country. 

However, despite the symbolic celebrations for Children’s Day on Friday, many observers have said that conditions for children have worsened in Burma in recent years.

In 2007, according to a UNICEF report, Burma’s child mortality rate was the fourth highest in the world, eclipsed in Asia only by Afghanistan.

Burmese children are also subjected to human rights abuses, including forced labor, and have been recruited as soldiers.

Burma’s military rulers have forbidden Children’s Day to be associated with the country’s founding father. Burmese teachers usually do not tell their students stories about Aung San for fear of reprisals, said a source.

“The junta would just as soon erase Aung San’s name from Burmese history books and forbid his birthday being celebrated altogether,” she said.      

On Thursday, in his message to the public on the Union Day of Burma, junta chief Snr-Gen Than Shwe made no mention of Aung San, even though he was the founder of Union Day and of the Burmese armed forces.

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