A government letter sent to political parties inviting their members to attend a Martyrs’ Day Commemoration on July 19 specified that attendees wear ethnic Bamar traditional dress, a requirement which ethnic nationalities have criticized.
The invitation to the 73rd Martyrs’ Day event came from the Union Election Commission and the government. It said that a requirement of attending would be wearing the Burmese traditional turban and a black Burmese traditional coat.
“This country is a multiethnic country,” Salai Ceu Bik Thawng, the general secretary of the Chin National League for Democracy (CNLD), told Khonumthung News. “Ethnic people have their own traditional and cultural dress. I completely oppose us being forced to wear the traditional dress of an ethnic group at a national level event. I think this is a kind of Burmanization.”
Salai Ceu Bik Thawng said that the CNLD will discuss whether their representatives will attend the commemoration.
“If I wanted to, perhaps I would wear the Burmese traditional dress, such as the cap, coat and sarong. If I am forced to wear this traditional dress, I will never wear it,” he said. “Does this country not recognize the traditional dress of other ethnic people? Does the country only recognize Burmese traditional dress?”
Martyrs’ Day is commemorated each year on July 19, the day in 1947 in which Gen Aung San and his cabinet members were gunned down while meeting at the Secretariat in Yangon. In addition to Aung San, those who were killed include Deedok U Ba Cho, U Ba Win, Mahn Ba Khine, Thakin Mya, U Razak, Sao San Htun, U Ohn Maung and Ko Htwe.