Dr. Dr. Manmohan Singh
Honourable Prime Minister of India
23rd Anniversary of Burma’s 8-8-88 protest rally
August 8, 2011
Today democracy still-deficient Burmese people around the world hold the 23rd anniversary of the People’s Uprising which took place on 8-8-88. The Burmese pro-democracy movement in India issues this memorandum to let the regime of Burma, the government of India and the people of Burma and around the world know our desire and demands.
In September 1987, the then military dictator General Ne Win who has ruled Burma for 26 years and made the country the poorest revoked certain Burmese currency notes unexpectedly. That did not improve Burma’s moribund economy but brought about protests spearheaded by the University students. On 8th August 1988 hundreds of thousands of people from all walks of life participated in the historic nationwide uprising. The people demanded for end of one-party rule and democracy.
Eventually, General Ne Win resigned but he made a last warning that when the army shoots, it shoots to hit. On 18 September 1988, the Army seized power and gunned down protesters by killing at least 3,000 citizens including young school-children, nurses, monks and housewives.
When the people were allowed to vote more or less freely in the election held in 1990, they voted for the National League for Democracy (NLD) and the political parties of the ethnic nationalities. However the military failed to concede but ruthlessly suppressed the opposition. The elected Parliamentarians, the students, the monks and the activists in thousands were arrested and imprisoned.
Meanwhile the military made a long-term groundwork. Keeping Aung San Suu Kyi and all opponents in check, the dictators tried to write a constitution of their choice. While a devastating Cyclone was killing 134,000 people, the referendum was held in 2008. After all major political parties which won landslide in 1990 were prohibited to contest, an election was held in 2010. The vote counting was utterly diabolical and the army-back USDA party was announced as sole winner. The selected army officers took off uniforms and are sitting in the parliament. To gain outside recognition Daw Aung San Suu Kyi was finally released in November 2010.
It has been 23 years but the people of Burma can’t forget those killing days as the killers continue ruling the country in different names and dissimilar clothes. It shows now that the new set-up has new problems among themselves, the government Vs the army. The decade-old ceasefire agreements broke down and gun fires flood back in Kachin, Shan and Karen areas. New regime has old hands and not-new policies. It continues keeping over 2,000 political prisoners including the 88-Generation student leaders.
It was the “Pinglong spirit” that united all nationalities and the country gained independence. It was the “8888 spirit”, which could unite the entire nation and bring down the incumbent junta. It is time to revive those spirits among all of us.
We, Burmese pro-democracy movement in India strongly demand:
We urge all the people inside and outside Burma to team up in unison to fulfil our demands. We also appeal to the government of India and the international community to effectively support the political initiatives of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.
Long live 8888 spirit!
Daw Thin Thin Aung
Presidium Board Member
Women’s League of Burma
WZ-110/A, Budhella, Vikas Puri
New Delhi- 110018