Ministers’ Building, home to the Burmese Martyrs
The Ministers Building, situated in Yangon, was formally called the Secretariat. It was previously the home and administrative seat of British Burma.
Although it is closed to the public, I felt compelled to visit the Ministers Building due to the history. Built in stages between 1889 and 1905, this striking building is made from red bricks and is situated on a 6.5 hectare block of land.
It was where General Aung San, who is considered the Father of the Nation of modern-day Myanmar, spent his working days. General Aung San founded the Communist Party of Burma, and was responsible for bringing about Burma’s independence from British rule. Tragically, he died six months before independence.
On the 19th of July 1947, while in a meeting of the Executive Council at the Ministers Building, General Aung San, the Minister of Information, Minister of Industry and Labor, Minister of Trade (General Aung San’s older brother), Minister Without Portfolio (unofficially the Deputy Prime Minister of Burma), Minister of Education and National Planning, Minister of Hills Regions, Secretary of State Transport and a bodyguard were killed by a gang of armed paramilitaries of former Prime Minister U Saw. These murderers broke into the Minister’s Building and conducted the massacre using guns sold to them by low-ranking British officers.
The building was mostly abandoned when the capital moved to Nay Pyi Taw in 2005. It is now closed off by fences, and is in ruin, with moss overtaking the side buildings. When we visited, there was restoration work happening as it was selected as a heritage building by the Ministry of Construction.
Once a year on the 19th July, the public are able to enter the section where General Aung San’s office was located, and the room where he and his cabinet were gunned down. This day is known as Martyr’s Day.