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Black July of Burma

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Message Zaw Nay Aung
Not everybody would know the historic incidents of Burma in July. Even the younger generation Burmese seems to have lack of knowledge about all the historic events in July which occurred almost half century ago. However, 19th July 1947, the day Burma's Independence Hero Bogyoke (General) Aung San (father of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi) and his colleagues were assassinated will be remembered by most Burmese as it has been celebrated as Martyr's Day in Burma since then.

But there is another Martyr's Day in July which was not allowed to celebrate.

The historic Students Union building in the campus of Rangoon University (now Yangon University) was demolished by the army and students were brutally gunned down on 7th July, 1962 about four months after the former dictator General Ne Win robbed the power from parliamentary government.

Same as always, Burmese intellectuals voiced for the freedom, student rights and denouncing the coup of General Ne Win and as a result hundreds of students were killed by machine guns and their refuge, Students Union building was demolished by the dynamite.

This historic, tragic and unforgettable event, widely known as 7th July Massacre among older generation Burmese seems to be forgotten nowadays. I read a news articles on the internet recently that security has been tightened and surveillance increased in Rangoon as anniversaries are looming.

First, I thought that the author mentioned about historic 7th July Massacre and Martyr's Day in 19th July, but in fact he mentioned about another popular day of countrywide uprising in August and last year "-Saffron Revolution' which occurred in September. However, the regime seems not forgetting 7th July event as their predecessor mile stoned more than forty years ago.

No matter how the regimes oppressed the students over the decades, students have been at the fore front of Burma's struggle for democracy and freedom.

Nevertheless, it is crucial to share the knowledge of students' role in Burma's political freedom and how the dictators violently crushed pro-democracy activities over the decades. July was the month of bloodshed in the history; Burma's martyrs have sacrificed their lives for freedom. Unfortunately, even the official Martyr's Day on 19th July has not been celebrated properly as the regime tried to block any activities that could rock their office.

Even the opposition leader, Aung San Suu Kyi did not have a chance to pay homage to her late father for the last two years. When the official Martyr's Day for assassinated Burmese leaders was not celebrated under complete freedom, the 7th July Massacre which was never allowed to celebrate would have been forgotten.

However, it is the responsibility of every Burmese who knows well about Black Days in July to share this historic event with younger generation and the whole world should be informed that how the military in Burma has been violent along the history.
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Zaw Nay Aung is director of London-based human rights advocacy and think tank, Burma Independence Advocates.
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