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Mapping Rangoon: Bogyoke Market and the Aung San Thuriya

As mentioned in this week’s article on Scott’s Market, just as the market is now named for Bogyoke Aung San, its internal streets are named for winners of the Aung San Thuriya medal – the highest military honour in Myanmar, itself named to honour Aung San. It’s the equivalent to the Victoria Cross in Britain, or the Medal of Honour in the USA.

Only six of these medals have ever been awarded, and so the three streets that form the square around the market from the main road don’t actually have names.

It doesn’t look like they’ll be getting names any time soon too, as all the medals were won within the first three years after independence in 1948; in encounters with communist insurgents, Karen and Kachin forces, or the Kuomintang, who had moved into Shan after their defeat in the Chinese communist revolution. This hasn’t been the case with other medals, such as the second highest award; the Thiha Thura medal. As of 2017, 47 people had received the Thiha Thura, at least one of which was after 2003.

A slightly tired looking Aung San Thuriya medal, and its first two winners, Maj. Aye Cho and Lt. Taik Chun

I would suggest that the fact that no medals have been awarded since 1951 is at least partly due to government reluctance to further strengthen Aung San’s reputation – similar to his disappearance from bank notes following the 1988 protests and the rise of Aung San Suu Kyi. But just as he’s soon to be returning to the kyat, maybe one day we’ll see another Aung San Thuriya awarded – and a new street name in the market.

To learn more about the six medal winners, move your mouse over or tap the streets on the map above. Accessible information on the winners and the detail of their exploits is very limited, and I’d love to learn more. The Defence Services Museum in Yangon seems to have had a display on them, but the museum has now moved to Naypidaw. If anyone happens to be there, do let me know if you find anything.