Man­dalay ac­tivists mark pro-democ­racy re­volt with trib­utes, eye to­ward fu­ture

The Myanmar Times - - News - MAUNG ZAW maungzaw@mm­times.com

MAN­DALAY com­mem­o­rated the 28th an­niver­sary of the so-called “8888 Up­ris­ing” yes­ter­day, with ac­tivists gath­er­ing at the Dham­masala Hall to re­mem­ber Myan­mar’s fallen democ­racy cham­pi­ons and look ahead to the coun­try’s po­lit­i­cal fu­ture.

Par­tic­i­pants in the event took ad­van­tage of an at­mos­phere of greater open­ness un­der the Na­tional League for Democ­racy gov­ern­ment to talk pol­i­tics and read out pa­pers on the up­com­ing 21st-cen­tury Pan­g­long Con­fer­ence, which will con­vene on Au­gust 31 as the ad­min­is­tra­tion seeks to jump­start the nation’s peace process.

“The 28th an­niver­sary of the quadru­ple-eight event in­cluded a dis­cus­sion un­like past years. To be a help to the Pan­g­long Con­fer­ence, which is to be held soon, po­lit­i­cal groups of Man­dalay held a dis­cus­sion con­cerned with that,” said U Nyein Chan, a mem­ber of the event’s or­gan­is­ing com­mit­tee. “Hold­ing such events is in­tended to raise the aware­ness of youth about Myan­mar po­lit­i­cal ac­tiv­i­ties.”

The gath­er­ing, in the hall at the cor­ner of 84th and 31st streets in Myan­mar’s sec­ond-largest city, was opened with a morn­ing do­na­tion of meals to Bud­dhist monks. The pro­gram later in­cluded trib­utes to mar­tyrs of the pop­u­lar up­ris­ing, singing of po­lit­i­cal songs and dis­cus­sion of the late-Au­gust peace sum­mit.

In Man­dalay and else­where in the coun­try, peo­ple gath­ered yes­ter­day to mark the an­niver­sary of Au­gust 8, 1988, when pro-democ­racy ac­tivists or­gan­ised a gen­eral strike and tens of thou­sands took to the streets to protest the then-rul­ing junta. Se­cu­rity forces bru­tally cracked down on the sus­tained demon­stra­tions the fol­low­ing month, killings thou­sands and im­pris­on­ing many more.

“We need to keep re­mem­ber­ing the pains of the past. We must use those pains as forces to de­velop the nation,” said a po­lit­i­cal ac­tivist par­tic­i­pat­ing in yes­ter­day’s dis­cus­sion. “Po­lit­i­cal forces also need to pay more at­ten­tion by work­ing for peace and to be able to amend the con­sti­tu­tion. Now is a crit­i­cal time for devel­op­ment of the coun­try.”

The trauma of 1988 gave birth to the NLD, which har­nessed the power of its pop­u­lar leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi to earn wide­spread public sup­port, though she was later put un­der house ar­rest for the bet­ter part of two decades.

– Trans­la­tion by Kyawt Darly Lin

Photo: Maung Zaw

A po­lit­i­cal ac­tivist dis­cusses the Pan­g­long Con­fer­ence at an “8888 Up­ris­ing” com­mem­o­ra­tion event in Man­dalay yes­ter­day.

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