Death Railway museum opens 2016

MON STATE, 1 December 2015: A Death Railway Museum at the site of the World War II-era Death Railway in Thanbyuzayat Township in Myanmar will open in April next year.

Global New Light of Myanmar media reported the museum will showcase historic photos connected with the Death Railway, paintings and sculptures and 3D images of the daily life of prisoners of war who died during construction of the railway.

It will be very similar in design and content to the death railway museums in Kanchanaburi, Thailand.

Artists are putting the finishing touches to silicon statues of Japanese soldiers and prisoners of war, which will be displayed at the two-storey museum.

Talamon Company Ltd won the right to build and operate the museum together with a hotel, a restaurant and other tourist facilities on land near Thanbyuzayat. The construction of the museum began in April last year.

Hotels have yet to be built.

The museum will offer visitors the opportunity to see a coal-fired C-0522 railway engine, which was used on the Death Railway and a memorial to mark where the death railway line originated, the report said.

At present the only reminder of the railway is a signpost that states “Myanmar-Thailand-Japanese Death Railway line started here.” An old steam locomotive stands on a short section of track. A damaged statue of a soldier stands in tall grass.

During the World War II occupation, the Japanese army forced tens of thousands of prisoners of war from Britain, the Netherlands and Australia, along with many Burmese and other Southeast Asian nationals, to construct a railway connecting Thailand’s Kanchanaburi province with Mon State’s Thanbyuzayat Township.

More than 16,000 prisoners of war died during the construction, or about 38 prisoners for every kilometre of the 415-km railway. The death toll was the highest among conscripted labour from Thailand and Myanmar.

In Thailand, some reconstructed sections of the railway track at “hell-fire pass”, two museums and a memorial park draw thousands of international visitors.

Tala Mon Company is owned by wealthy Mon businessman, Min Banyar San, who controls local public transport through his Tala Mon Bus Company.

Mon State is an administrative division of Myanmar sandwiched between Kayin State on the east, the Andaman Sea on the west, Bago Region on the north and Tanintharyi Region on the south, and has a short border with Thailand’s Kanchanaburi province at its southeastern tip.

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