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20th Anniversary of the 8888 Uprising

20th Anniversary of the 8888 Uprising

Today (8 08 2008) marks the 20th anniversary of Burma’s largest national democratic uprising when millions of Burmese citizens bravely marched through the streets calling for freedom and democracy — the protests were brutally crushed by the military and thousands were killed.

For over twenty years, the political will of the Burmese have been brutally suppressed. For twenty years, the military regime has got away, literally with murder. This cannot and will not go on. The international community needs to use its own political freedom to promote the political freedom and expression of human rights in Burma.

Than Shwe’s (the military leader of Burma) regime has carried out brutal and gruesome attacks against the people of Burma. Among other atrocities, the regime has destroyed over 3,200 ethnic minority villages in eastern Burma (twice as many villages as those destroyed in Darfur), part of a scorched-earth military campaign that has sent millions fleeing as refugees and internally displaced.
Than Shwe has also tortured and locked up nearly 2,000 political prisoners, among them the world’s only imprisoned Nobel Peace Prize recipient, Aung San Suu Kyi. At the same time, his regime has recruited more child soldiers than any other country in the world. Imprisonment, attacks on civilians, and conscription of child soldiers continue to this day. Burmese citizens, despite their cheerful persona, live in constant and unadulterated fear.

China: A Cause for celebration or remorse?

Today also marks a cause for celebration for China with the opening of the Olympic Games. The games, long respected as an event that brings nations together is an important symbol of hope and prosperity for the world, and an example for all global citizens to strive for unity, compassion and respect.

However, for years, China has propped up the dictatorship of Than Shwe. China is the key arms supplier for Than Shwe’s regime, supplying over $2 billion in weapons and military equipment. The shipments have included tanks and armored personnel carriers, fighter jets, attack aircraft, coastal patrol ships, small arms and light weapons, logical and transportation equipment, and military advisors.

The United Nations has sought to convene peaceful negotiations between Than Shwe’s dictatorship, the pro-democracy movement led by Aung San Suu Kyi, and Burma’s ethnic minorities. However, the UN has repeatedly failed due to China’s veto of a more rigorous peace-building effort at the UN Security Council.

China’s involvement in this horrific political struggle cannot be ignored. China needs and must be convinced of the affects that its foreign policy and relationship of impunity with Than Shaw’s regime is doing to millions of Burmese citizens. It is the hope of millions of Burmese citizens and thousands of international campaigners that China will help break this political deadlock. We ALL have a part to play.

“Please use your liberty to promote ours.” Aung San Suu Kyi


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