Burma’s main opposition party, the National League for Democracy, celebrated Union Day at Doyoya Restaurant in Rangoon on Wednesday. A traditional Shan dance competition was held at the event, which was attended by the 88 Generation Student leaders and NLD chairperson Aung San Suu Kyi.
Union Day is marked on Feb. 12 every year in Burma to commemorate the signing of the Panglong Agreement in 1947 by independence leader Aung San—Suu Kyi’s father—and the ethnic Shan, Kachin and Chin peoples.
The agreement granted ethnic regions political autonomy and the right to secede after 10 years; it was envisioned to expand to other ethnic groups in Burma. After Gen. Aung San was assassinated in July 1947 Burma descended into civil war and the agreement was never fully implemented.
Previous military governments celebrated Union Day as a key date in the establishing Burma’s independence but rejected the ethnic regions’ demands for autonomy, giving rise to decades of internal conflict.