August 8, 2008

Burmese Rise Against Oppression

Arrests as Burma marks uprising
At least 20 people have been arrested in the Burmese town of Taunggok after staging a silent protest on the 20th anniversary of a major uprising.
They were detained after marching while wearing T-shirts which referred to the date of the uprising - "8/8/88".
Activists outside Burma are marking the anniversary with demonstrations.
The 1988 protests drew hundreds of thousands of people onto the streets, but ended with a violent clampdown and the deaths of at least 3,000 civilians.
The date 8 August 1988 was significant for the numerologically minded Burmese, and marked the start of six weeks of rallies against military rule.
[…] The BBC is banned from Burma - also known as Myanmar - but reports from opposition sources inside the country say at least 20 people were arrested in Taunggok, and that the number could be as high as 50.
[…] Three activists staging separate protests are said to have been detained in the vicinity of Rangoon.
In the city itself, opposition sources said they were concerned for the welfare of a young woman seen walking in the streets wearing a T-shirt bearing an image of detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
There have been few such open signs of the significance of the date in Burma, with reports suggesting monks and laypeople met in private for secret ceremonies to remember those who died.
Nyan Win, a spokesman for Ms Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD), told AFP news agency that the anniversary marked "an important historical turning point".
Until the 8/8/88 protests, Ms Suu Kyi was only known as the daughter of liberation hero Aung San, but her speech to the assembled protesters during the rallies propelled her to the centre of the pro-democracy movement.
Anti-China protests
Elsewhere in Asia, human rights groups and activists who fled in the aftermath of the 1988 protests held demonstrations outside Burmese and Chinese embassies.
"We are here because China is the main supporter of the military regime," Kyaw Lin Oo, a Burmese activist, told reporters outside the Chinese embassy in Bangkok.
"We want the Chinese government to understand the actual cost of their support to the people inside of Burma," he added.
Anti-junta protests also took place in Manila, Tokyo, and Delhi, and protesters joined wider demonstrations to mark the start of the Olympics in London, Brussels, Berlin and Hong Kong.
"As the world celebrates the opening of the Beijing Olympics, people should pause to remember the atrocities in Burma 20 years ago," said Elaine Pearson, deputy Asia director of Human Rights
Burma, 8/8/88

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