13 July 1947
General Aung San's Last Speech
people General Aung San
On July 13, 1947, U Aung San gave his last speech from the balcony of City Hall to supporters in Fytche Square (now Maha Bandula Park). He was assassinated six days later. (Most of the buildings in the background were demolished after WW2 bomb damage and have been replaced by the Centrepoint and AGD bank buildings.)
In his speech, he urged Burmese to be more disciplined in the face of challenges ahead. The country, less than two years from the Japanese surrender and the devastations of war, was already in the grip of multiple armed rebellions, including by communist militia and the pro-Pakistan Mujahideen in north Arakan (now Rakhine State). And the world was again becoming an uncertain place. In China, the communists had just seized the northeast and were preparing for final victory against Chiang Kai-shek. In Europe, the Cold War was looming, with the Soviets rejecting participation in the Marshall Plan. In India, the British had just agreed to partition and the creation of an independent Pakistan, uprooting millions of people. Indonesia was in the middle of a bloody fight for independence, Palestine was mired in rising violence, and in Vietnam Ho Chi Minh Viet Minh was battling the French colonialists. Burma was in bad shape, but no more than the rest of Asia. Over the next 70 years though, as nearly all Asia moved from strength to strength and most of its people enjoyed the peace and ever greater prosperity, Burma would be left behind.