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NGOs mark the 22nd Anniversary of 8.8.88 in Bangkok

By Burma Partnership  •  August 9, 2010

DSC01041On Sunday 8 August, 2010, several hundred activists, students, and members of civil society gathered today at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok to commemorate the 22nd anniversary of the 8.8.88 uprising in Burma. The event featured a keynote speech by Mr. Kraisak Choonhavan, President of the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Myanmar Caucus (AIPMC) and was hosted by Amnesty International Thailand, Thai Action Committee for Democracy in Burma, Altsean-Burma, Friends of Burma and B with Us.

There was also a panel discussion on the 2010 elections in Burma. Ko Win Hlaing, MP-Elect for the National League for Democracy, spoke about the problems with the 2008 Constitution, the regime’s unfair election laws, and the NLD’s position before and after the elections. Ko Min Min, former political prisoner and member of the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners – Burma, gave a moving account of his time in prison, the horrific treatment of political prisoners, and the lack of freedom of expression in Burma today. He ended with an appeal for the mostly Thai and foreigner audience to take action, quoting the famous line of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, “Please use your liberty to promote ours.”  The event finished with Mon and Shan dance performances, and snacks of laphetoke (tea leaf salad) and Burmese tea.

The event in Bangkok also marked the beginning of a new photo petition calling for a commission of inquiry into serious international crimes in Burma, including crimes against humanity and war crimes, and was only one of many happening around the world this weekend commemorating this historic occasion.

Burma Partnership coordinator, Khin Ohmar, remarked how it is truly amazing how the spirit of 1988 has not died. “It has been 22 years, but still people are not giving up in the push for democracy and freedom in Burma. 1988 was important because it planted the seed of change in the hearts of millions of people of Burma, which has grown so much over the years.” DSC00963Every year, 8.8.88 anniversaries highlight the vibrancy of the movement, and the commitment of the new generation of Burmese democracy activists to continue to seek to push for the change that captured the hearts of thousands of demonstrators all those years ago.

This year’s 8.8.888 anniversary is a particularly significant occasion; with the 2010 elections looming, the fundamentally undemocratic and divisive lead-up to the elections is an affront to the spirit of democracy, hope, unity and change that spread through the country in August 1988. The international community must nourish the spirit of 8.8.88 in honor of the all those brave demonstrators who banded together twenty-two years ago in the vision of a just and democratic Burma. Indeed, as a community we must use our liberty, to promote that of the people of Burma.

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