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Activists name day after teen girl shot dead in 1988 protests

New Delhi (Mizzima) – Burmese pro-democracy activists in the Indian capital have named September 19 as Win Maw Oo Day or Burma’s National Heroes Day after the high-school student shot dead on that day by Burmese soldiers during a bloody crackdown on nationwide pro-democracy protests in 1988.

winmawoo-22-ceremonyThe demonstration organised by Burmese activists in India on Sunday protested against the ruling junta, its upcoming elections and to commemorate the death of Win Maw Oo. The photo of the 16-year-old girl’s bloodied, limp body being carried to hospital after she was shot by troops has become an icon of the massive anti-junta uprisings across Burma in 1988. 

“The main objective of our protest is to commemorate martyrs including Win Maw Oo who lost their lives in the peaceful protests against the military dictatorship. In honour of Win Maw Oo, we have called the day ‘Win Maw Oo Day’ or ‘Burma’s National Heroes Day’,” presidium board member of the Women’s League of Burma, Thin Thin Aung, said.

About 30 pro-democracy activists participated in the protest on Sunday, which went ahead amid heavy monsoonal rain.

One day after the Burmese junta staged a military coup in 1988, Win Maw Oo was shot by troops at the corner of Sule Pagoda and Merchant roads.

“As soon as the army started shooting, chaos broke out. Some students dived to the ground. At the time, Win Maw Oo was kneeling and holding a picture of national hero General Aung San. She was then shot in her left thigh and calf and fell all the way down, but she still held on to the picture of Aung San and tried to stand up again,” Thin Thin Aung, who took part in the protest, said.

The injured Win Maw Oo was carried to Rangoon Hospital by medical students Min Thein and Saw Lwin at 1 p.m., but she died at around 5:30 pm. Junta forces killed more than 3,000 protestors across the country within the few days following the coup, and an estimated 10,000 were killed by the end of 1988, with many more missing.

Win Maw Oo was born on November 19, 1972, the eldest of five siblings of parents Win Kyu and Khin Htay Win. She lived in Pan Pin Gyi Street in Kyeemyindaing Township and studied at that town’s High School No. 4, later joining the students’ union organised in 1988.

Also on Sunday, her family offered alms to monks at their home in Hlaingtharyar Township, in her memory. 

A statement from the Burmese pro-democracy activists in New Delhi condemned the junta’s refusal to transfer power to the National League for Democracy (NLD), which won a landslide victory in the 1990 election. It said the junta should not hold elections on November 7 without releasing the more than 2,100 political prisoners languishing in Burma’s jails.

The activists also criticised the junta for electoral laws that reserve for military personnel 25 per cent of the seats in all parliaments and aim to give priority to the junta-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP).

The election would neither be free nor fair, the statement said.

All political prisoners must be released immediately and the election process should be fully inclusive. The junta should let all people co-operate in the political process including opposition and ethnic leaders, it demanded. 


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