This Sunday, marks the anniversary of theinfamous 8/8/88 protests in Burma, wherein droves of people, many of themstudents, took to the streets of Rangoon to demand democracy. The peacefulprotests were brutally put down, by the ruling military junta, who openedfire into the crowds and killed in excess of 3,000 people.
Hearing Waihnin, whose father was one ofthe student leaders, and is currently in prison serving 65 years talkingon Radio Four’s Woman’s Hour this week, about her determination to continueher public speaking and overt dissent, despite the fact that it means shecan not return home, was incredibly moving and humbling. Her father hadnot been released from prison long, for his part in the 1988 protests whenhe once again took to the streets at the head of a band of new students.
This was the new generation of activist,picking up the torch where their forebears left off, with renewed vigourin 2007. Peacefully marching, and asking to be heard. There was genuinehope that change was approaching then, too. But it was not to be. Onceagain, the protests were repressed with disproportionately violent means,and a new generation locked up.
Depressing ground-hog-day stuff, on one level.But on another level it is this constant unrelenting pressure from eachnew generation of Burmese students, and adults which inspires the greatesthope.
I was reminded of how young many of the activistswe are campaigning on behalf of are, similar ages to Waihnin, herself astudent, how young and how brave. People like Htay Kywe, Mie Mie and ZawThet Ko Ko, who you can learn more about, and take action for, here.
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