Mandalay activists mark pro-democracy revolt with tributes, eye toward future
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
A political activist discusses the Panglong Conference at an “8888 Uprising” commemoration event in Mandalay yesterday.