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Opposition holds ceremonies to mark 23rd anniversary of ‘8888’ uprising


Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – On the 23rd anniversary of the nationwide pro-democracy uprising––despite the government’s silence––opposition groups in Burma and foreign countries on Monday held ceremonies to mark the anniversary.
 
Politicians in Rangoon, including Burma’s pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, held a robe donation ceremony at the Sadu Monastery in Kyimyindaing Township on Monday morning.

Protesters hold placards and shout slogans as they gather during a demonstration to mark the 23rd anniversary of the 1988 uprising in Burma in London on Monday, August 8, 2011. The activists  called for the release of all imprisoned political prisoners and student leaders and cooperation with political opponents and ethnic groups.  Photo: Burma Campaign UK 
Khin Moe Aye, one of the 88-generation student leaders, said that many political groups, musicians, artists and social organizations attended the ceremony that included more than 3,000 people.
 
Organizers donated robes and food to 118 monks including the monastery’s abbot, Bhaddanta U Oakgantha, and 10 monks who were arrested and imprisoned in the “Saffron Revolution” in September 2007.
 
Abbot Bhaddanta U Oakgantha, 81, said: “Don’t be greedy for unusual food, unusual clothes and unusual places. Just think unusually, think boldly and think successfully. Then, you will not accept all the things you are given, you will not eat all the food you are given and you will not be afraid when you are threatened and you will not be conceited when you are flattered. Then you can take a step further and you will be able to seek reconciliation and establish peace.”
 
 Aung San Suu Kyi signs a guestbook during a ceremony to mark the 23rd anniversary of the “8888” pro-democracy uprising at the Sadu Monastery in Kyimyindaing Township in Rangoon on Monday, August 8. Photo: MizzimaAung San Suu Kyi wrote in the monastery guestbook, “I want everyone to think of the reasons and why we cannot forget [the 8888 pro-democracy uprising].  
 
The nationwide pro-democracy protest against the Burma Socialist Programme Party (BSPP), founded by the deceased dictator Ne Win, started on August 8, 1988. The BSPP-ruled Burma lived for 26 years with a one-party system. The anti-government protest initiated by university students ousted three consecutive governments within 31 days. But the army launched a bloody military coup, killing at least 3,000 people.
 
The current military-dominated government led by a former military officer, President Thein Sein, is the successor of the former military junta that launched a coup in 1988. The government did not say anything about the anniversary of the ‘8888 pro-democracy uprising. The National League for Democracy (NLD), the strongest opposition group that has been officially dissolved by authorities, organized the robe donation ceremony at the monastery.
 
Myo Yan Naung Thein, one of the organizers of the ceremony, said, “Two facts; our brothers Min Ko Naing, Ko Ko Gyi, Htay Kywe, Min Zeya and Jimmy could not attend the ceremony, and there are political prisoners in Burma; they have raised doubts that the government can establish a genuine democracy.”
 
Similarly, groups of young people jointly held a ceremony at the Kantakkone Masoeyain Monastery in Yemontaung Quarter in Mandalay to mark the anniversary. They donated eight robes to Abbot Bhaddanta Tayzawbartha; donated food to eight monks and donated 96,000 kyat to eight orphans for their one-year education expenses. They also served vermicelli soup to more than 800 students from the monastery’s school, said an organizer on the condition of anonymity.
 
“We don’t forget ‘8888’. Regarding it, we have duties to be carried out. That’s our aim,” the organizer said. More than 100 people attended the ceremony. Poet Ko Lay (Innwa Gonyi) gave an inaugural speech at the ceremony.
 
Protesters hold placards and shout slogans as they gather during a demonstration to mark the 23rd anniversary of the 1988 uprising in Burma in front of the Burmese embassy in Bangkok on Sunday, August 7, 2011. The activists  called for the release of all imprisoned political prisoners and students leaders and cooperation with political opponents and ethnic groups.  Photo: AFPThe All Burma Students' Democratic Front (ABSDF), a resistance armed group formed by students who fled to neighbouring countries after the ‘8888’ pro-democracy uprising was suppressed, held a ceremony to mark the anniversary in the area controlled by the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO), which is now fighting against the Burmese government. This was the first ceremony marking the ‘8888’ uprising in Laiza, a Sino-Burmese border town. More than 200 people including KIO members, Kachin community leaders and women’s unions attended.  
 
Hla Sai of ABSDF (North) told Mizzima, “These days people are suffering. Our ally is fighting [against the government]. Today, we held the ceremony here to mark the ‘8888’ uprising to show that we are ready to fight.”
 
Currently, the ABSDF (North) has reorganized their activities again in Kachin State after 17 years of being inactive.

Similarly, Burmese pro-democracy activists in India and Israel on Friday staged protests against the Burmese government to mark the ‘8888’ pro-democracy uprising.
 
In India, about 80 Burmese refugees protested at Juntar Mantar Park in New Delhi. In Israel about 30 Burmese activists held placards reading “We won’t forget” and “We won’t give up” and shouting slogans protested in front of the Burmese Embassy in Tel Aviv for two hours. They called for the release of all political prisoners including student leaders
 
Pai Thu Win, a leader of Burma Action for Israel, told Mizzima: “Pro-democracy groups urged the SPDC military junta to hold a political dialogue for 23 years, but nothing happened. I want to deliver a message that like Arab countries, we should oust the SPDC junta via a people’s movement.”
Last Updated ( Monday, 08 August 2011 23:58 )  

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