Monday, August 12, 2013

Weekly Highlights: The Fallen Heroes and Heroines of 8888 Must Be Honored With Accountability


5-11 August 2013

Weekly Highlights

The Fallen Heroes and Heroines of 8888 Must Be Honored With Accountability

The week of 8888 Silver Jubilee has passed, with many commitments made for the future. Among the many commemorations of 8888 Silver Jubilee, this year Rangoon saw the largest public 8888 anniversary gathering in history with more than 4,000 activists from 88 generation forces and politicians from across the country, border areas and exile, leaders of ethnic armed groups, political parties, farmers, workers, and civil society representatives from different areas of the country as well as from exile attending the ceremony. After two days of open and lively discussions and deliberations on this special event initiated by 88 Generation Peace and Open Society and organized by various 88 generation and young generation activist groups, a crowd of 20,000 people quickly filled up the hall in the morning of 8 August and spilled out into the entrance of the hall to watch the event on a live television screen. Everyone remembers and, for the new generation, wants to remember the historical movement for democracy 25 years ago and the military regime's brutal crackdown on countrywide mass demonstrations that killed as many as 3,000 peaceful protesters.

Allowing such gathering as the anniversary ceremony of the people's uprising for democracy at the Myanmar Convention Center in Rangoon was a positive step taken by the government that should be welcomed. However, challenges are lined-up on the road towards meaningful reform. Unsurprisingly, a separate marching commemoration to Sule Pagoda was troubled by local authorities and three of the marchers are now facing charges. Moreover, in a panel discussion in the three-day commemoration event on national reconciliation in the three-day commemoration event, U Myint, Advisor to the President, discouraged the panelists and audience from "talking about the past." When asked by a participant whether the government has any plan to do anything for the people who lost their lives throughout the struggle for democracy, he replied that talking about the past is useless and that people should focus on the future.

"The current government should issue an official apology to the public for all killings and oppressions starting from 1988 uprising. Only then will the current and future Tatmadaw soldiers learn to not repeat its oppressive activities against the people and only then will our future be safe," said Moe Thway, a youth activist and President of Generation Wave. Indeed, the military crackdown during 1988 is just one of the country's many misfortunes for which there has never been justice, largely due to the deep-rooted system of impunity that was crafted by current and former military generals to escape prosecution for past crimes. However, the effect of the system of impunity is beyond what the generals can imagine. It has ruined the current state of the nation and put the country's future at high risk by allowing the state authorities and security forces to continue to commit crimes and encouraging the emergence of new oppressive authoritarian leaders. Modern-day crimes committed with impunity include the continuous attacks targeting civilians in Kachin State, the crackdown on Letpadaung Copper Mine protesters and the complicity of state authorities and security forces in ongoing killings and oppression of Rohingyas and Muslim people.

The 25th anniversary ceremony concluded with participants committing to the Declaration of the Silver Jubilee that reactivates and reaffirms the unfinished mission of 8888. Commitments in the declaration include working toward a genuine democratic federal union, revising the 2008 Constitution or drafting a new constitution, and holding an all-inclusive national convention.

All of these must include finding the truth. U Win Kyu, father of the 16-year old Win Maw Oo, who was shot and killed during the 1988 uprising along with many others, said his daughter will rest in peace only when real democracy is restored the country. The photo of the unconscious Win Maw Oo being carried away by two doctors remains a historical record of the bloody day in Burma in 1988. She indeed told her parents in her dying moment that they should not pray for the release her soul until Burma enjoys democracy. Uncovering the truth has always been a crucial step for a sustainable transition and meaningful and genuine reconciliation in any country: recognizing the past is the only way forward. This year's 8888 commemorations have sent a strong and clear message to the nation and its leaders that people want the truth, the acknowledgement of the truth, and the recognition of their sacrifices and commitment to democracy, starting from what happened in 1988.

News Highlights

Burma celebrates the silver jubilee of the 8888 uprising where civil society groups call for the establishment of a federal state and a government delegation attends the commemoration events

Three activists face charges after leading an unauthorized peaceful march through Rangoon to mark the anniversary of 8888


Inside Burma

Activists object to the draft Association Bill that will go before the Lower House of Parliament

The National Democratic Force announces that it will support the Media Bill drafted by the Interim Press Council if presented to the Parliament

Police shoot and wound at least three Rohingya in Arakan State

All Burma Students' Democratic Front signs a state-level ceasefire agreement with Karen State government representatives

The New Mon State Party meets with members from the Myanmar Peace Center that recently has warmed non-states armed groups of 'extreme' demands on constitution

The Burma Army discharges 68 child soldiers

Police raid a monastery near the Letpadaung copper mine in search of activists, four people are arrested and at least 15 others are injured



South Korea's state-run airport operator wins contract to build a new international airport in Burma

A bomb explodes in a Buddhist Vihara in Jakarta, injuring three people



US to begin military engagement with Burma later this month and extends a ban on imports of rubies and jade


What We Were Fighting For
By Aung Zaw
The Irrawaddy

A Democracy Still Waiting to Flower
Lindsay Murdoch
The Age

Latest from the Blog


25 Years On, Freedom of Association Remains an Illusion

By Burma Partnership



Villagers from Letpadaung copper mine project area issue a statement calling on Daw Aung San Suu Kyi to take responsibility for work undertaken by the Inquiry Report Implementing Committee

Garment workers at Delta Industrial Group in Irrawaddy Division protest for increased wages to 70,000 kyats (US$70) per month

TAKE ACTION! Write to Burma authorities asking for the immediate release of human rights defender Kyaw Hla Aung

TAKE ACTION! Write to Burma authorities calling for the charges against Aung Soe to be reviewed and for him to be released without delay

TAKE ACTION! Write to British Foreign Office Minister to ask him to secure the immediate release of Khin Mi Mi Khaing, Myint Myint Aye and for the release of all of Burma's remaining political prisoners

Statements and Press Releases

ရွစ္ေလးလုံး ဒီမိုုကေရစီအေရးေတာ္ပံုု ေငြရတုေၾကညာစာတမ္း
By 8888 Silver Jubilee

Statement by Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications Ben Rhodes on the Expiration of the Ban on Imports from Burma
By The White House, Office of the Press Secretary

Civil Society's Concerns on Draft MNHRC Law Must Be Adequately Addressed
By Asian NGO Network on National Human Rights Institutions

Thein Sein Should Come Clean On Role In Crushing 88 Uprising
By Burma Campaign UK

Statement of Endorsement for Declaration of 8888 Silver Jubilee
By Burma Partnership

Burma: Justice for 1988 Massacres
By Human Rights Watch

Message of KNU President, Gen. Mutu Say Po, on Occasion of 63rd Anniversary of Karen People Martyrs' Day
By Karen National Union

Progress of Preparation for the ASEAN Civil Society Conference/ASEAN People's Forum (ACSC/APF) 2014
By National Organizing Committee of ACSC/APF 2014

Shan Community Groups Fear Signs of Premature Refugee Repatriation
By Shan Human Rights Foundation, Shan Sapawa Environmental Organization, Shan Women's Action Network, Shan Youth Power and Shan Youth Network Group

Myanmar: UN Special Rapporteur in Official Visit to Assess Human Rights Situation Countrywide 
By United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Myanmar, Tomás Ojea Quintana


Business & Human Rights in Myanmar: A Round-Up of Recent Developments
By Business and Human Rights Resource Centre

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