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Posts Tagged ‘Regime

Dirty list of foreign companies supporting the regime in Burma

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the dirty list with company contact details

Dear friends,
We’ve just launched our new edition of the “Dirty List”. It’s the biggest list we’ve ever produced, containing 170 companies that directly or indirectly fund Burma’s brutal regime.
Thanks to your emails over the past year many companies have pulled out of Burma, depriving the regime of hundreds of thousands of pounds. Remember XL insurance? Cotton Traders? Arig insurance? They’ve all pulled out in the past year. So have others like Trailblazer Guides, Jet Gold Corp, CHC and Aquatic.

Please write to a few of these companies right now and tell them to stop bankrolling Burma’s generals:

Every single day foreign companies give millions of dollars to the regime; allowing them to buy the bullets, guns and supplies for the army that keeps them in power. These companies are financing a regime that rapes five-year-old girls, shoots peaceful protestors and leaves storm victims to die.

This is your chance to speak directly to the companies that fund the regime. Tell them why what they’re doing is wrong. Tell them why they must respect the wishes of Burma’s democracy movement and pull out of Burma now:

Do let us know if you receive any replies. You can send them to

Thank you for your continued support.

Johnny Chatterton

P.S. We also just published our monthly newsletter “Last month in Burma” which gives you the latest news from Burma over the last month. You can read them for free here:

Was this email forwarded to you by a friend? If you are not already a member of the Burma Campaign UK e-mail network, and would like to receive these updates directly, you can subscribe by sending a blank e-mail to:

If you would like to unsubscribe from this mailing list, please send a blank email to:

The Burma Campaign UK
Registered Company No. 3804730
Registered office address
28 Charles Square
London N1 6HT


Written by Lwin Aung Soe

December 12, 2008 at 2:20 pm

World focus on Burma (22 November 2008)

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South Africa’s Archbishop Tutu Gets Fulbright Award
Voice of America –
… but that the world’s revulsion for human rights violations in places like Darfur, Burma, Zimbabwe and Gaza shows that evil is not the norm. …

“But it’s a bigger joke on those abroad who still think ignoring repression in Burma will bring positive change,” he said.

Myanmar opposition calls for amnesty on national day
TopNews, India –
The National League for Democracy, Myanmar’s main opposition group, demanded the release all political prisoners including Aung San Suu Kyi and student …

Burmese comic gets 45 years
Chortle, UK –
… June and seized his computer after he organized a group of around 400 volunteers to provide disaster relief in the areas devastated by Cyclone Nargis. …

HMS Westminster arrives in capital for march
Portsmouth News, UK –
Westminster was also sent to offer help with the humanitarian effort in the aftermath of Cyclone Nargis. The full article contains 182 words and appears in …

Comedian gets 45 years – criticized Burma junta
San Francisco Chronicle,  USA –
… and 14 members of detained Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi’s party got 2 1/2 years each for calling for her release on her birthday in June, …

Comedian gets 45-year term as Burma punishes activism
Boston Globe, United States –
AP / November 22, 2008 RANGOON, Burma – Burma’s courts continued a crackdown on activists yesterday, giving a 45-year prison sentence to a comedian who went …

Burma Eats Its Young
New Yorker, United States –
After Aung San Suu Kyi, these two men are the leaders of Burma’s democracy movement, and a source of intense admiration and inspiration among the young …

Opposition big shots spurn 2010 elections
Shan Herald Agency for News, Thailand –
… the democratic opposition led by Aung San Suu Kyi and non-Burman ethnic states, was formed by exiles led by the late Chao Tzang Yawnghwe (1939-2004), …

Myanmar Gives Comedian 45-Year Sentence for Cyclone Comments
New York Times, United States –
Those sentenced have included some 70 members of the opposition National League for Democracy, the party of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the detained Nobel …

Rights group says Myanmar judges should be referred to ICC
Despite the September release [JURIST report] of more than 9000 political prisoners, human rights groups estimate that more than 2100 Burmese remain …

Human rights calls
Bangkok Post, Thailand –
Asean governments will be urged next month to call for a Commission of Inquiry on Burma by the UN Human Rights Council. But the new Asean Human Rights Body …

Comedian gets jail for criticizing junta
Washington Times, DC –

AP RANGOON, Burma | Burma’s courts continued a crackdown on activists Friday, handing out a 45-year prison sentence to a comedian who went to the delta to …

Importance of ‘responsibility to protect’ outlined at conference
Irish Times, Ireland –
… invoking the principle – for example, in the aftermath of Cyclone Nargis in Burma last spring – had not helped to build wider acceptance of the idea. …

Chinese living longer but wealth gap widening: UN
ABC Online, Australia –
“You’ve also got trafficking of women from even poorer places, for example Myanmar (Burma) and Laos, into these villages in China now to provide wives for …

In short
Irish Times, Ireland –
(Reuters) RANGOON – A hip-hop star in military-ruled Burma has been jailed for six years for being part of a political group, the latest in a string of …

Burma jails comedian for 45 years
Independent, UK –
More than 100 activists, including Buddhist monks, students and members of the opposition National League for Democracy have been convicted in the past two …

Myanmar on US agenda
Straits Times, Singapore –
The United States refers to Myanmar as Burma, the name used before it was changed by the military junta. Mr Marciel’s visit to Japan will take place on Dec …

Tea room pours good cheer
East Valley Tribune, AZ –
“We have sent women to retreats, and we have sent women onto the Navajo Nation, and we have purchased property in Myanmar (formerly Burma) to help build a …

Journalist gets 45 years in prison, others sentenced
CPJ Press Freedom Online, NY –
New York, November 21, 2008–A Burmese court sentenced entertainer and activist Maung Thura–known by his stage name, “Zarganar”–to 45 years in prison …

Magazine Breaks News on Organ Harvesting in China
The Epoch Times, NY –
24 issue, “China’s Gruesome Organ Harvest ” by Ethan Gutmann, asks why the world’s media, human rights organizations, and governments are not investigating …

RIGHTS: Landmines Banned, And Still Kill Thousands
Inter Press Service, Italy –
Investigations by Human Rights Watch concluded that at least 16 civilians died as a result of these weapons, which are known to tear limbs off a victim’s …

Burma: Cyclone-hit monasteries in need
Spero News –
By IRIN Scores of monasteries in cyclone-affected Myanmar are in urgent need of repair almost seven months after the category four storm struck. …

PEN Canada Honorary Member and One Humanity Award winner ZARGANA …
Canada NewsWire (press release), Canada –
21 /CNW/ – PEN Canada is appalled by the forty-five year prison sentence handed down today by the Myanmar regime to Burmese poet and comedian Zargana (Maung …

Daily Press Briefing
US Department of State, DC –
Burma will also be discussed. He will travel to Tokyo to consult with Japanese officials regarding human rights, democracy, and other concerns in Burma on …

For Andrew K
The Young Turks, CA –
More than 100 activists have been sentenced over the past two weeks in a judicial crackdown across the spectrum of Burma’s pro-democracy movement. …

Myanmar Junta Jails Comedian for 45 Years
New York Times, United States –
By SHARON OTTERMAN A secret court run by Myanmar’s military leadership sentenced a prominent Burmese comedian and activist to 45 years in prison on Friday, …

Myanmar court hands comedian 45-year prison term
The Associated Press –
… for their jokes about the junta, and several other activists delivered donations of relief supplies to the Cyclone Nargis-shattered Irrawaddy delta. …

Top US Agenda at Asia-Pacific Meeting is the Financial Crisis
NewsBlaze, CA –
Topics of discussion will include follow-up from the G20 meeting; nuclear proliferation challenges from North Korea and Iran; developments in Burma, …

Insein prison trials called insult to rule of law and …
Reporters without borders (press release), France –
… trade unions and political activists.” They added: “All of Burma’s lifeblood has been neutralised and silenced by a subservient judicial system. …

World focus on Burma (14 September 2008)

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The Asian century still a long way off
Sydney Morning Herald, Australia –
“The Thais, all they care about is money, nothing else,” one Burmese acquaintance told me in Rangoon, despite never having been to Thailand. …

Aung San Suu Kyi meets doctor amid health worries: witnesses

YANGON (AFP) — Myanmar’s detained democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi met for several hours with her physician Sunday, witnesses said, amid worries for her …

Myanmar loosens some strictures on Aung San Suu Kyi
International Herald Tribune, France –
By Seth Mydans BANGKOK: Myanmar’s military junta will allow the pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi to receive letters from her two sons as well as some …

Nobel laureate from Iran urges against military action
Los Angeles Times, CA –
… up political pressure on the military regime to democratize the nation and free Aung San Suu Kyi, the Burmese opposition leader and 1991 Nobel laureate. …

Rambo-type people less likely to survive disasters!
Entertainment and Showbiz!, India –
To reach the conclusion, Gonzales reviewed miraculous tales of survival from catastrophes like the Burmese cyclone, September 11 attacks and the Boxing Day …

Newspaper: 2 bomb blasts in central Myanmar kill 2
The Associated Press –
The military, which has ruled Myanmar, also called Burma, since 1962, has been widely criticized for suppressing basic freedoms.

Resources center will aid refugee influx
Some of its programs will be specifically for refugees from Myanmar, formerly known as Burma. Thousands of refugees from Myanmar have resettled in Fort …

Beloved Leader would be mourned by more than those in North Korea
Sunday Herald, UK –
… event of Kim’s demise – think a military-style junta along the lines of that seen in Burma – there would be inevitable tensions over the nuclear issue. …

Climate change challenges
The Daily Star, Bangladesh –
In December last year I visited Bangladesh and met people who had lost their homes, their possessions and in many cases their loved ones in Cyclone Sidr. …

Man sets out to retrace his ancestor’s trek around the world …
Chicago Sun-Times, United States –
Tempas, who has been in touch with the State Department, will skip Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, because of political unrest. …

Suu Kyi to appeal to Myanmar junta for her release: lawyer
YANGON (AFP) — Detained democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi will soon submit her first-ever personal appeal for release to Myanmar’s ruling junta, …

India ‘must not show weakness to China’, United Kingdom –
On India’s eastern flank, China has allied with Burma’s military regime and begun constructing another deep water port on the Bay of Bengal. …

Written by Lwin Aung Soe

September 14, 2008 at 1:48 am

World focus on Burma (6 September 2008)

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US and UK Anti-money Laundering Requirements Compared
International Law Office, UK –
The Burma sanctions currently in force in the United Kingdom target specific individuals and entities in Burma. The US sanctions are broader. …

NLD Calls Junta to Ensure Well-being of Suu Kyi
The Irrawaddy News Magazine, Thailand –
By AP RANGOON — The political party of detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi urged Burma’s military government Friday to ensure her well-being as she …

Junta Cracks Down on Monks, Activists
The Irrawaddy News Magazine, Thailand –
By SAW YAN NAING Perhaps fearing another uprising during the anniversary of last year’s demonstrations, Burmese security forces are now closely monitoring …

Around the world in eighty ways. . ., Ireland –
Burma had been hit by a cyclone, and China had had an earthquake. “We were kind of stuck, but two days after we arrived, the monarch was ousted and the …

So Far, It Just Isn’t Looking Like Asia’s Century
Washington Post, United States –
One of the most expensive pictures in Thai history, it told the story of an ancient Thai queen who died fighting Burmese invaders — and compounded Thais’ …

Myanmar: Two MMO members acquitted in Maungdaw
The Muslim News, UK –
Some locals believe that Dr. Nurul Hoque alias Dr. Tun Aung, the Chairman of Township Islam Religion Council (IRC) of Burma complained to the authorities …

Burma: Journalist Arrested After Article on Double Murder
UNPO, Netherlands –
… has voiced support for Burma’s military junta and said that international talks on the future of the country should be held without Aung San Suu Kyi.

Malta and International press digest
Times of Malta, Malta –
Irrawaddy reports that members close to Burma’s detained democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi say she has refused to accept food rations for the past three …

In Brief……. (Suu Kyi refuses food)
Dispatch Online, South Africa –
Sapa-AFP BURMA ’S detained democratic leader Aung San Suu Kyi had refused to accept food rations for three weeks, her party said yesterday, calling on the …

Aung San Suu Kyi reported on hunger strike
United Press International –
The league won parliamentary elections in 1990, but the military junta ruling the country formerly known as Burma refused to relinquish power. …

The sands of peace
National Post, Canada –
High oil prices arm despots against their own people, as with Burma’s military regime; they finance terrorism abroad, as with Iran; and they make dreams of …

Strong and ancient links with Burma
Scotsman, United Kingdom –
After Cyclone Nargis struck in May, the Scottish Government immediately backed the Myanmar (Burma) Cyclone Appeal and encouraged all Scots to do the same. …

A pioneering Scot who has dedicated his life to Burma
Scotsman, United Kingdom –
His third book, Pandaw: The Irrawaddy Flotilla Company & the Rivers of Myanmar, is about the company he helped revive and the history of the flotilla. …

Burma’s junta gave best help in cyclone, says UN
Financial Times, UK –
By Andrew Jack in London The Burmese authorities were by far the greatest providers of medical assistance to its population after cyclone Nargis despite the …

Country could face critical rice shortage
It all depends on how much the junta has stored for an emergency, and whether the ordinary Burmese people will rise up in protest if supplies run short. …

Women take up fight for equality
Calcutta Telegraph, India –
“The Indian government had promised us to help in our struggle for democracy against the Burma military regime. We thought it would do another East Pakistan …

Burma: Building upon success
ReliefWeb (press release), Switzerland –
Three months after Cyclone Nargis, the world has an outdated image of the situ¬ation inside Burma. Although aid agencies delivered assistance within days …

Which stones are substitutes for rubies?
National Jeweler Network, NY –

Answer: Rubies from Myanmar (still commonly called Burma) range widely in price, from top-value, high-clarity stones mined in the Mogok Stone Tract to small …

Helen hopes to cross finish line in marathon effort
Worcester News,  UK –

“I decided to run for the Red Cross back in May after seeing television footage of the Chinese earthquake and the cyclone that hit Burma. …

Burmese Regime Fails To Cooperate

Voice of America –

It is difficult to imagine any real political progress in Burma until the country’s leading democracy advocate is released. Indeed, Aung San Suu Kyi has …

World focus on Burma (3 September 2008)

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Daw Suu’s lawyer disputes regime account of meeting
Democratic Voice of Burma, Norway –
The state-run New Light of Myanmar reported on the meeting, stating that Daw Aung San Suu Kyi had had her request granted to meet her lawyer for 55 minutes …

Aung San Suu Kyi honoured with Dundee freedom award, India –
New Delhi – Burma’s imprisoned pro-democracy leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has been honoured with the ‘Dundee freedom award’ for her courageous struggle to …

Aung San Suu Kyi refuses to meet her doctor: Junta media, India –
New Delhi – Burma’s state controlled media on Wednesday said detained opposition leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has refused to meet her family doctor, …

Vershbow Calls for More Attention to Human Rights
코리아타임즈, South Korea –

“There are many Koreans who will support taking a principled position on Burma’s (Myanmar) human rights record, the treatment of North Koreans in China and …

Burma Expects Better Power Supplies After Hydro Plant Completion
RedOrbit, TX –
The plant is being built under a joint venture with a consortium of Chinese companies and Myanmar’s Department of Hydroelectric Power under the Ministry of …

Legal group calls for an end to forcible disrobing of monks
Democratic Voice of Burma, Norway –
Sep 3, 2008 (DVB)–The Burma Lawyers’ Council has demanded that the junta abolish state law 20/90 on religious organisations and stop the practice of …

David Cameron: Democracy should be the work of patient craftsmanship, UK –
Liberal – because I believe in freedom, human rights and democracy, and I want to see more of these things in our world. But Conservative, because I believe …

Suu Kyi Continues Legal Battle
The Irrawaddy News Magazine, Thailand –
By WAI MOE Burma’s detained democracy leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, met with her lawyer yesterday to discuss a legal challenge to the ruling junta’s decision to …

Ceasefire groups pressured to surrender within 2009
Shan Herald Agency for News, Thailand –
There was a rumor that the Burma Army suspected Maha Ja group of having contacts with the anti-junta groups WNA and Shan State Army-South (SSA). …

Gambira to Snub Military Court
The Irrawaddy News Magazine, Thailand –
The military authorities’ bloody crackdown left at least 10 persons dead, although human rights groups claim up to 31 protesters may have been killed while …

Military backs embattled Thai government, for now
Vancouver Sun,  Canada –
… the system used by Indonesia’s former dictator president Suharto before he was ousted in 1998, and that being proposed by the military junta in Burma. …

Suu Kyi’s refusals indicate anger over slow reform
The Associated Press –
Myanmar, also known as Burma, has been in a political deadlock since 1990, when Suu Kyi’s party overwhelmingly won general elections but was not allowed to …

Suu Kyi rejects junta meeting: report
Sydney Morning Herald, Australia –
Burma’s detained democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi has refused to meet with the junta’s liaison officer and declined a visit from her personal physician, …

Monk Leader Requests Trial Under Buddhist Law (press release), New Zealand –
His lawyer, Aung Thein, is insistent that the military junta does not have a case against the monk leader. “There is no law in Burma forbidding persons from …

Anderson: Is our democracy healthy?
University Daily Kansan, KS –
… that entity is a democracy is like asking someone to refrain from criticizing the actions of North Korea or Burma because they’re not democracies. …

The True Test For Turtle Bay’s Burmese Connection
Wall Street Journal –
The opposition, led by the National League for Democracy leader and Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, won more than 80% of the vote in that 1990 election, …

City freedom ceremony for Suu Kyi
BBC News, UK –
Burma’s pro-democracy leader will not be able to attend because she has been under house arrest since 2003. In total, the Nobel Peace Prize winner has spent …

The man who would be president
The News – International, Pakistan –
Pakistan’s economy, the second-worst performing after Burma in Asia, cannot afford messed-up governance. Five, what systems are in place to making …

Refugee children’s artwork on display at ASU Museum of Anthropology
Arizona State University, Tempe –
Painted by youngsters from Burma to Burundi, the images on canvas and paper illustrate the scope of refugee children’s heartache, as well as their hope. …

Burma: More than 39 activists arrested, and 21 imprisoned during …
Asian Tribune, Thailand –
Ko Tate Naing, the secretary of the AAPP, said that even though UN high level representatives visited Burma to try to solve the problems of human rights …

Thai doctor gives free limbs and self-respect, Philippines –
Soon, his noble work reached as far as areas in neighboring countries like Malaysia, Laos and Burma (Myanmar). He also invented an apparatus that could …

Mounting concern over Aung San Suu Kyi’s health
Merinews, India –
There is mounting concern round the world over reports of Noble Peace Laureate and Myanmar democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi continuing to refuse food …

Can the Army really play the role of peacemaker
Nation Multimedia, Thailand –
… they held scores of people hostage, including Burmese diplomats and their families, demanding that the Rangoon junta release all political prisoners. …

World focus on Burma (1 Sept 2008)

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Daw Suu holds third meeting with lawyer
Democratic Voice of Burma, Norway –
Sep 1, 2008 (DVB)–Detained democracy leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and her lawyer U Kyi Win met for 30 minutes this morning, the National League for Democracy …

Burmese blogger conference banned
Democratic Voice of Burma, Norway –
The conference was organised by the Myanmar Computer Experts Association and was to be held at Rangoon’s International Business Centre, situated on the bank …

Mandalay puppeteers raise funds for cyclone victims
Democratic Voice of Burma, Norway –
Aid donations to victims of the cyclone which swept the Irrawaddy delta area of Burma and killed more than 100000 in early May have been gradually …

Business Roundup (September 1, 2008)
The Irrawaddy News Magazine, Thailand –
“Asean aspires to become an EU-like entity but that’s going to be impossible as long as member Myanmar [Burma] is controlled by a military dictatorship. …

Solo demonstrator sentenced to 2 years
Democratic Voice of Burma, Norway –
U Kyaw Ho, a National League for Democracy leader in Bassein, said Aye Win was first charged under sections 505(b) and 143 of the penal code for disturbing …

Free movie, popcorn offered at Pilgrim Congregational
Lexington Minuteman,  USA –
Perhaps one of the most beautiful anti-war movies, the Burmese Harp is set in Myanmar (formerly Burma) during World War II’s last days. …

Burma: Joe Biden and Burma
UNPO, Netherlands –
He met detained democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi in the 1990s in Rangoon. In May [2008], McCain said of the Cyclone Nargis disaster: “It does highlight the …

Between McCain and Obama, an Energy Gap
Human Events, DC –
McCain is suspicious of Beijing’s significant military buildup and its “…relations with pariah states such as Burma, Sudan, and Zimbabwe. …

Aung San Suu Kyi’s lawyer says she’s lost weight
International Herald Tribune, France –
Myanmar, also known as Burma, has been in a political deadlock since 1990, when Suu Kyi’s party overwhelmingly won general elections but was not allowed to …

Lawyer meets Suu Kyi, says she is thin but well
The Standard, Hong Kong –
Burma’s detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has lost some weight but is feeling well, her lawyer said after a 30-minute meeting with her today. …

Democracy, voting and informed consent
United Press International, Asia, Hong Kong –
Burma is an easy example; but it is also not difficult to judge whether Thailand’s elections are democratic or not. The answer is a resounding “no” if …

‘It’s not special to me’ First Monday in September not a holiday …
Waukegan News Sun, IL –
“It’s not special to me,” said Chit Po, a native of Myanmar, the Southeast Asian country also known through history as Burma. “I’ve been here almost five …

Authorities ban Taunggok NLD meeting
Democratic Voice of Burma, Norway –
Sep 1, 2008 (DVB)–Local authorities in Arakan state’s Taunggok township prevented the local National League for Democracy from holding their regular monthly …

4 Political Prisoners Expected to be Used for Forced Labor at …
Narinjara News, Bangladesh –
The associate said, “They are politicians and they are supporters of the Burma democracy movement, so authorities want to give them a lesson on avoiding …

ENC: Rigged election results won’t make lawful regime

Shan Herald Agency for News, Thailand –
“Unless and until the people of Burma can freely and fairly express their true will, there can be no legitimate government.” It instead urges the people “to …

CINEMA ‘59 – Jamyang Norbu
Phayul, Tibet –
An interesting film on the conflict in Burma between the military junta and the dissident democracy movement. Ignore the contrived story of the “troubled” …

UN’s Burma envoys have been a complete failure
Bangkok Post, Thailand –
The meeting would then be in the nature of a prison visit, as undertaken by UN human rights investigators in Burma. A free and frank discussion could then …

Asian Tribune, Thailand –
BIMSTEC’s members today consist of Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka and Thailand ( the original members) who have now been joined by Bhutan, Nepal and Myanmar. …

7 top Asians, group receive RM Awards for 2008
Manila Bulletin, Philippines –
Other winners have come from Bangladesh, with nine; Sri Lanka, eight; Hong Kong, six; Vietnam and Nepal, with four each; Burma and Cambodia, …

There’s The Rub : Winds of change / Conrado De Quiros, Philippines –
He vows to liberalize Malaysia and turn it into a full-blown democracy. I met Anwar’s wife and daughter when they came here many years ago, seeking support …

In shadow of Olympics, Myanmar mourns failed ‘88 uprising

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In shadow of Olympics, Myanmar mourns failed ‘88 uprising

Demonstrators gather in central Rangoon to protest against the government, in 1988

Hundreds of thousands of anti-government protestors take it to streets of downtown Rangoon (Yagon)

Exiled Myanmar students hold a rally outside the Myanmar embassy in Bangkok

Ne Win


6 August 2008

BANGKOK (AFP) — As China celebrates the start of the Olympics on Friday with much fanfare, activists in neighbouring Myanmar will silently mourn the bloody end of an uprising that crushed their dreams of democracy 20 years ago.

In August 1988, cities and villages across the country then known as Burma were bursting with optimism.

The military dictator Ne Win had just stepped down after decades of iron-fisted rule, and Burma was inspired by a prophecy that it would become a free nation on August 8 — known as 8-8-88.

Students who had already protested for almost a year against Ne Win’s socialist government called for a national uprising on the auspicious date, drawing activists, Buddhist monks, and even young military cadets into the streets clamouring for freedom.

“On August 8, it was not just one city or one area, it was all over Burma — everywhere, even the remote villages. It was not just students or monks or workers. Everybody was there,” said Win Min, then a medical student who helped organise the protests, and now a university professor in Thailand.

“We had high hopes that the situation could change, high hopes that democracy could come to Burma, high hopes that our economic problems would be solved,” he said.

But the euphoria was short-lived.

After dark on August 8, soldiers began shooting protesters in the streets of the then-capital Rangoon, beginning six weeks of bloodshed that left an estimated 3,000 dead.

The protests rumbled on amid the violence, powered by anger at the regime and the once-promising economy it had hammered into the ground.

In the swirl of near-anarchy, a new national leadership emerged in a country under dictatorship since 1962.

The previously obscure and expatriate daughter of a liberation hero, Aung San Suu Kyi, stood before crowds outside the golden Shwedagon Pagoda on August 26, making an eloquent call for democracy and instantly becoming the public face of the movement.

She was joined by veteran politicians and ethnic leaders, including some top generals who had grown disillusioned with the regime.

Without Ne Win, the government struggled to contain the unrest. A series of leaders within the regime rose and fell, until finally a group of generals seized power in a coup on September 18.

The new regime, calling itself the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC), officially allowed the creation of opposition parties and moved to create a market economy.

But in reality, the junta clamped down on the democracy movement, placing Aung San Suu Kyi under house arrest in July 1989. Twenty years later, she is still confined to her home, having only enjoyed a few brief years of freedom.

Even with their leader locked away, her followers in the new National League for Democracy (NLD) won elections in 1990, but were never allowed to govern.

Many student leaders were imprisoned and only released in 2005, when they quickly returned to activism.

They launched new protests against the ruling junta last August, only to be arrested again. Buddhist monks took over the protest movement, but were shot and beaten by security forces in September.

Tun Myint Aung is among the activists, now known as the ’88 Generation, who escaped arrest and continues to try to campaign against the regime while living in hiding.

“The only change has been to a worse condition,” he told AFP, when asked to asses his country’s progress in the past 20 years.

“Now the military junta and their relatives and cronies, this small group exploits our country’s riches. There are great gaps between a handful of military troops and the masses of people.”

The situation in Myanmar now appears worse than ever.

The democracy movement is in shambles after last year’s protests were crushed. The economy is moribund, and huge swathes of the country are still reeling from a devastating cyclone that hit three months ago.

Despite the grim outlook, Win Min says he still believes his country can change — eventually.

“Look at China’s progress,” Win Min said. “Myanmar is where China was 30 years ago.”

“If the economic situation of the people is not improved, there will be demonstrations again.”

Written by Lwin Aung Soe

August 6, 2008 at 3:41 am