Friday, July 22, 2016

Myanmar honors a Muslim martyr




Myanmar has been a racist country since its independence from Britain. Muslims who joined the patriotic movement alongside Burma's founding father Aung Saan are rarely mentioned these days, and their contribution to the cause of independence ignored. Well, all these were true until very lately. Here is a news report that may show some positive movement in terms of commonality.

Thousands of people of all faiths cast aside religious and ethnic differences early Thursday to pay respect to the country's heroes of independence at the Martyrs’ Mausoleum in Myanmar’s commercial capital Yangon.

Each year on July 19, events take place countrywide, but for Myanmar's minority Muslim population Martyr's Day has taken on extra significance as many feel the secularism encouraged by one man is now under threat from a surge in Buddhist nationalism.

Of the eight men assassinated alongside the country’s founding father in 1947, one was a highly respected Muslim politician, Abdul Razak, who paved the way for what was initially a secular state in the majority Buddhist country.

“He deeply believed in secularism. He respected religion and the culture of others. That’s why everyone admires him,” Razak's son said of his father to Anadolu Agency at Yangon's Muslim cemetery.

“During their fight for independence, they just focus on national interest,” recalled Tin Myint, who was just six years old when his father died.

“No one looks at the religion at that time."

July 19 is a national holiday in Myanmar, as it marks the 69th anniversary of the death of Gen. Aung San -- State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi's father -- seven other leaders, and a bodyguard during a cabinet meeting of the pre-independence interim government.

The incident happened one year before the country became independent from colonial power Britain in 1948.

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