On the 23rd Anniversary of 1988 Protests, ANFREL Calls for Long Awaited Reforms

On the occasion of the 23rdanniversary of the 8888 people’s uprising in Burma, ANFREL wishes to express itssolidarity with the people that on that day twenty-three years ago todayexpressed their fundamental desire for democratic change.

What had begun primarily as a studentprotest expanded over time to include people from all walks of life taking tothe streets to demand greater freedoms and for a voice in choosing theirleaders.  A broad swathe of Burma’s people,whether they be monks, teachers, farmers, or housewives, rallied in citiesacross the country in what were ongoing protests demanding democratic andeconomic reforms. On this day, we also take time to remember the thousands thatwere killed when the military eventually crushed the protests.

Sadly, twenty-three years later,their calls for change remain unheeded. Despite an election in November of lastyear marketed by the regime as a “free election”, little has changed in thecourse of the 23 years since the 1988 protests. In the last few years alone,the military used its position of pass a constitution that makes permanenttheir position of prominence in public life. Additionally, they used virtually all elements of state power to tiltthe playing field to favor military backed candidates in the elections thatresulted in the expected, and entirely scripted, landslide in favor of themilitary’s party.  The new parliamentremains far from the actual center of power in the country and oppositionparties continue to face harassment.

Where there has been change, it hasbeen minimal and sporadic at best, with opposition political parties at leastbeing able to exist now whereas in the past all such political activity wasforbidden.  ANFREL wishes to encouragethese groups to continue their work and calls on the USDP and the military tocontinue to reform the political system so that the country may reach the truepotential that the people of the ‘88 generation were fighting for.  May we not forget their sacrifice or theideals they were fighting for.

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