Originally published on Mohinga Matters
On Aug. 8, 2022, four youths from Yangon People’s Strike held black umbrellas with the number eight emblazoned on each umbrella. They roamed around Yangon’s iconic landmarks, took photos, and shared them on social media to remember the Myanmar people’s struggle for democracy on Aug. 8, 1988 – known as the 8888 Uprising.
These photos of 8888 umbrellas quickly went viral and the photos were so iconic that Myanmar diaspora groups all over the world imitated the idea and took photos at some of the world’s historical landmarks to share on social media. This included the Eiffel Tower in Paris, the Opera House in Sydney, the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, and Times Square in New York City. Starting with the four youths in Yangon, the 8888 umbrellas traveled across the globe, and so did the Myanmar people’s fight against the military regime.
On Aug. 9, 2022, the Yangon People’s Strike team wrote on their Facebook page that this protest was named “Umbrella Cooperation” during its planning stage, and after seeing how Myanmar people all over the world cooperated in this protest, they felt that the cooperation became more meaningful than they anticipated. They also felt encouraged to continue resisting and eventually abolish the military dictatorship by the collective effort of the Myanmar people. While many netizens overwhelmingly applauded the four youths and the Yangon People’s Strike, the four youths inevitably faced an unfortunate fate.
On Aug. 22, initial news was released that the youths who carried out the umbrella protests were arrested by the junta. Later that month, Yangon People’s Strike confirmed with Myanmar Now that one of its members and a freelance photographer were arrested in two separate raids. Han Nyein Oo, the pro-military Telegram channel, released photos of two young men forced to kneel down, with the 8888 umbrellas and a protest banner near them. One of them was covered in blood on his face. This shows that whenever pro-democracy forces do anything impactful and meaningful, the military is ready to retaliate in full force, and for one single act of resistance, we are paying the price with our lives.
On the 35th anniversary of the 8888 Uprising, we remember all the fallen heroes who had fallen in our struggle for democracy, we wish for the immediate release of anyone who has been arbitrarily arrested, we celebrate our resistance fighters who are taking the lead in armed revolution, and we hope the people remain resilient and have faith in our revolt against the military dictatorship.
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