Political activists in Burma and overseas are planning to mark the 20th anniversary this Friday of a bloody pro-democracy uprising that left nearly 3,000 people dead.

On August 8, 1988, hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets of cities and villages across Burma, demanding an end to the military dictatorship.  

Government forces violently crushed the mass protests, opening fire into crowds of students and Buddhist monks.

A new group of generals seized power in Burma following the crackdown and have been in control of the government since 1988.

Burma's ruling junta allowed elections in 1990, but refused to recognize the results of that race and the victory of the opposition National League for Democracy.

The 1988 protests pushed opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi into the political limelight and helped her found the National League for Democracy party to challenge army rule.

Aung San Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace laureate, has been under some form of detention for most of the past 18 years since the 1990 election.