News / Asia

Ruling Party Joins Burma Crackdown Event

Burma pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and 88 generation student leader Min Ko Naning (2nd L) attend an event on the 25th anniversary of the democratic uprising known also as '8888',  at Burma Convention Center in Rangoon, August 8, 2013.
Burma pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and 88 generation student leader Min Ko Naning (2nd L) attend an event on the 25th anniversary of the democratic uprising known also as '8888', at Burma Convention Center in Rangoon, August 8, 2013.
William Gallo / Colin Lovett
Burma's ruling party has for the first time joined public commemorations of the 1988 pro-democracy uprising that the military crushed.
 
Ruling party vice-chairman and former general Htay Oo joined pro-democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi and a crowd of more than 5,000 at an event in the Myanmar Convention Center in Rangoon Thursday. 

Min Ko Naing, a prominent student leader in 1988, spoke at the commemoration.

"For a time period, those who hold power could portray or write the history as what they want. But the truth would be revealed at last. It shows that how courageous people those joined today commemorate this special day,” the student leader said.
 
It is a huge shift from previous years, when the military government banned any public mentions of the bloody 1988 crackdown, in which more than 3,000 people died.
Since a nominally civilian government took power in 2011, Burma has released hundreds of political prisoners, reduced government censorship, and allowed democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi to successfully run for parliament.
 
Earlier, activists laid wreaths at Rangoon's Sule Pagoda, the site of the initial crackdown. Dozens of protesters also marched peacefully through Rangoon. 
 
  • Burmese police officers are surrounded by a small group of pro-democracy students marching to commemorate the August 8,1988 uprising, Rangoon, August 8, 2013.
  • Members of Burma's prominent 88 generation students group hold symbolic wreaths during a march in downtown Rangoon, August 8, 2013.
  • Burmese police officers and others take pictures of a group of pro-democracy students commemorating the 25th anniversary of the August 8, 1988 uprising, Rangoon, August 8, 2013.
  • People gather to take pictures of a wreath of flowers on a barbed-wired roadside barrier outside Rangoon City Hall commemorating the victims of August 8, 1988 pro-democracy uprising, Rangoon, August 8, 2013.
  • A wreath is kept on a barbed-wired roadside barrier outside Yangon city hall commemorating the victims of August 8, 1988 pro-democracy uprising in Rangoon, August 8, 2013.
  • Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and 88 generation student leader Min Ko Naning attend an event on the 25th anniversary of the democratic uprising known also as "8888", Rangoon, August 8, 2013.
  • Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi gives speech on the 25th anniversary of the democratic uprising known also as "8888", Rangoon, August 8, 2013.
 
Mark Farmaner of the Burma Campaign UK says despite recent reforms, Burma's government has never held accountable those responsible for the deaths.
 
"The government, the military, and President Thein Sein himself are not acknowledging that what happened was wrong, and they're not revealing what their own role was. There is no process of justice, accountability, truth or reconciliation at all," he said.
 
However, Farmaner said that increased openness is reflected in the government's willingness to allow what he calls unprecedented commemorations of the 1988 protests.
 
"It's one of the paradoxes that you've got in Burma at the moment. Basically, you've got the same people in charge, and you've got many of the same issues - people arrested for peacefully protesting, the Burmese army still attacking ethnic minorities," he explained. "Yet at the same time they're allowing more freedom of expression, there's a bit more political space in the country. People can talk more openly about the problems, but at the same time those problems are not being fully addressed."
 
Earlier this week, Human Rights Watch called on President Thein Sein to commit to an independent investigation and prosecution of those responsible for the deaths.
 
The New York-based group called the issue an "unaddressed open wound that challenges the government's rhetoric of reform." It said addressing the abuses is "absolutely necessary for Burmese society to move forward."
 
This report was produced in collaboration with the VOA Burmese service

You May Like

IS Militants Release 49 Turkish Hostages

Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency reports that no ransom was paid and no conditions accepted for the hostages' release; few details of the release are known More

Photogallery IS Attacks Send Thousands of Syrian Kurds Fleeing to Turkey

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says more than 300 Kurdish fighters crossed into Syria from Turkey to defend a Kurdish area from attack by the Islamic militants More

Video Sierra Leone's Ebola Lockdown Continues

Thousands of health workers are going door to door in the West African country of 6 million, informing people of how to avoid Ebola, handing out soap More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’i
X
Jeff Seldin
September 20, 2014 10:28 PM
Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid