Crowds of Burmese today gathered across the country to mark 23 years since the infamous 1988 uprising, which heralded the emergence of Aung San Suu Kyi but was brutally put down by the army.
Suu Kyi led tributes in Rangoon, where around 1000 people held a minute’s silence. According to AFP, she wrote in guestbook: “I would like you all to think about what has happened and not forget.”
More than 3000 people were killed by troops as they marched in urban areas across the country in what is now known popularly as the ‘8888 uprising’, given that it began on 8 August 1988.
The demonstrations started off as protests against Burma’s woeful economic situation and the shock devaluation of the currency by then dictator Ne Win, but quickly turned into wider anger at widespread human rights abuses.
That anger has not abated, according to National League for Democracy (NLD) member Than Aung, who attended an event in Magwe division’s Yaynanchaung township.
“The 8888 uprising is the event that spread talk of democracy across the country, and was joined by all members of the public, including students and monks. After 23 years, the desires of our fallen comrades who sacrificed their lives has not yet been fulfilled.”
Government authorities are said to have kept a close eye on events in Rangoon, although unlike past years no harassment has been reported.
Khin Moe Aye, who as a student marched in 1988 and helped organise the Rangoon event today, said: “I feel like we have our unity and strength back as now people are gathering here to mark the day, just the same way and with the same spirit they gathered in the pouring rain [back in 1988].”
Additional reporting by Min Lwin