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July 18, 2019

Thoughts come from Bagan, our national heritage

  • The UNESCO’s inclusion of Bagan on the World Heritage List at its 43rd Session has made the people of Myanmar proud. Besides Bagan, there are several sites which hold great cultural and historical importance for the country. The Students’ Union Building at the Yangon University is one of them.
    Built around 57 years ago, the building was the centre of the revolution that helped us gain our independence from colonial rule. The building produced several leaders and vanguards of the anti-colonial and the anti-fascist movements. The building stood testimony to the heroes who sacrificed their lives for truth, human rights, and democracy over successive eras.
    Therefore, we can say our independence was intrinsically tied up with the developments in the Student’s Union Building.
    Just as Myanmar accelerated efforts post independence to rebuild itself and work towards stability and development, while balancing the political, economic, social, and cultural sectors, there was a military coup. After the coup d’état, the country’s parliamentary system was abolished.
    From then, the democratic rights of the people declined, and thus, the military coup was the beginning of the dark age of democracy in Myanmar.
    Again, it was the students who launched protests against military rule. The then government cracked down on student protests at the Yangon University, and its uncommonly strong reaction against the students produced some undesired results.
    The Students’ Union Building, which had played an important role in the independence struggle and was considered our country’s historic and national heritage, was blown up to suppress protests, and many students were arrested. These actions created bitter enmity between the students and the then government.
    The Students’ Union was the vanguard of the revolution against the colonialists and the struggle for independence. The Students’ Union Building was the right place for calls of a revolution to emerge. We can say that the building was enshrined with historic values and the essence of independence. But, such an important national heritage has vanished from the scene. There are similar examples in Myanmar.
    Buildings with cultural and historical significance still remain in the country. In fact, they are our cultural, historic, and cultural heritage.
    The country’s people must conserve the heritage buildings and sites in our country. Our cultural heritage must not be allowed to disappear due to lack of understanding about our cultural values and out of self-interest.
    The time has come to enforce laws which can guarantee our heritage thrives.

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