TUESDAY, 09 AUGUST 2011
Press TV, Chiang Mai – The uprising that began on August 8, 1988, was initiated by university students and joined by all segments of Burmese society.
People marched in hundreds of thousands throughout the country in defiance of the government and its policies.
The protests officially ended on September 18th of the same year after a deadly crackdown through a military coup that is estimated to have claimed thousands of lives. One of the most significant outcomes of the uprising was the emergence of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi as a national icon.
Following the uprising around 10,000 activists fled to the Thai-Burma border where the first alliances between ethnic and democracy movements were established.
Media, development and pro-democracy groups continue to operate from Thailand in the absence of basic freedoms inside the country.
Some of the Chiang Mai based groups gathered over the weekend to commemorate the anniversary of the protests.
Former student activists who now head leading human rights organizations recounted their experiences from 1988.
They emphasize the need for a unified voice amongst the various ethnic groups that constitute present day Myanmar.
Although the last year’s elections did not yield a pro-democratic atmosphere, they point to progress and room for growth.
It has been more than two decades since the start of quest for democracy but just over 3 months since the inception of a new government that has promised new laws to safeguard fundamental rights of the people.
But since election day in November 2010, fighting re-emerged in different ethnic minority regions where armed groups have refused to merge with state military.
A former resident of Shan state now living in exile and working as a journalist, describes the fighting that has been ongoing in Shan State over the past several months between armed groups and the state military.
Whilst latest reports assessing the new government criticize lack of real reform and point to the threat of civil war, the government itself has acknowledged that the economic and social challenges that lie ahead for Myanmar are enormous.