Myanmar activists mark 1988 uprising anniversary

AP News
Posted: Aug 08, 2011 7:12 AM
Myanmar activists mark 1988 uprising anniversary

Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi and other activists marked the anniversary Monday of the anti-military uprising that inspired their still uncompleted crusade to bring democracy to Myanmar.

The low-key commemoration came a week before Suu Kyi's first planned political trip outside of Yangon since her release from house arrest last November, a proposed action that has drawn strong warnings from the state-controlled press.

Suu Kyi, her colleagues and 350 followers gathered at a monastery in western Yangon to recall how about 1 million people rose up on Aug. 8, 1988 to protest an entrenched military-backed regime that had wiped out the savings of many by a sudden demonetization of the currency.

An estimated 3,000 people were killed before the demonstrations were crushed the next month.

"We must not forget those who had sacrificed their lives in the democratic struggle and we should never lose sight of our original aim of ending military dictatorship and establishing a democratic system in the country," 82-year-old Win Tin, a prominent journalist and opposition party leader, told The Associated Press.

Suu Kyi, the daughter of Myanmar independence hero Gen. Aung San, rose to prominence during the 1988 uprising. Her National League for Democracy faced continuous repression under the military government, with Suu Kyi under house arrest for most of the time since 1989.

The organization no longer exists as a political party after not participating in last year's general election, but it continues to press for democratic reforms and the release of about 2,000 political prisoners.

Last year's election was widely viewed as unfair and undemocratic, and the elected, civilian government that took office earlier this year is dominated by the military.

Authorities have generally tolerated ceremonies like the one held Monday, but Suu Kyi's first political trip outside Yangon on August 14 poses a larger challenge.

She will visit Bago, 50 miles (80 kilometers) north of Yangon and a town nearby to open libraries and meet supporters and party members, her spokesman Nyan Win said.

In June, state media warned that her planned tour could trigger riots.

Her last trip in the countryside in 2003 was ambushed by junta supporters. Several of her followers were killed and Suu Kyi was later detained. The army denied it organized the attack.