Campaign Links Myanmar’s 8888 Uprising With 2021 Anti-Regime Movement

By The Irrawaddy 6 August 2021

The Four Eights uprising, a historic protest movement in which the Myanmar people’s cry for democracy was heard around the world, will mark its 33rd anniversary on Sunday. It coincides with the six-month point since the start of the ongoing Spring Revolution to overthrow the new military regime.

Myanmar people are launching a campaign to mark the 8888 uprising anniversary in connection with the ongoing anti-regime movement, in which more than 900 civilians have been killed since the February coup. The campaign slogan is “Blood feuds from ’88 must be settled by 2021.”

The uprising in 1988 toppled General Ne Win’s one-party military dictatorship, but the democracy struggle failed as the country fell into the hands of another military dictatorship. The Sunday campaign slogan conveys the idea that the democracy that could not be achieved in 1988 must be achieved in 2021, as Myanmar is under military rule again.

Campaign poster for the 33rd anniversary of the ‘88 Popular Uprising.

The campaign has two parts—an eight-finger strike and a red campaign. The former asks the people to share photos of themselves showing eight fingers on social media, representing the revolutionary spirit of the 8888 Uprising. The latter asks the people to wear red clothes and throw red paint in the streets, representing the bravery and strong spirit of the 8888 movement.

In 1988, hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets across the country to oppose the Burma Socialist Programme Party led by military dictator Gen Ne Win, which destroyed the country’s economy over 26 years of repressive rule.

Some 3,000 people were killed in the movement as Ne Win’s henchman Sein Lwin, who was dubbed the “Butcher of Yangon”, ordered violent crackdowns on protesters. The fatal crackdowns continued after General Saw Maung seized power in September of that year. The military continued to rule the country until early 2011.

What is different from the 1988 uprising is that this time, peaceful protesters have taken up arms after the new military regime killed hundreds following its coup in February this year. Six months into military rule, anti-regime protests remain so strong around the country that coup leader Senior General Min Aung Hlaing has still not been able to impose his rule.

Anti-regime protests have taken different forms in Myanmar, including banging pots and pans, wearing the traditional Myanmar cosmetic Thanakha, the Milk Tea Alliance, wearing flowers for detainees and detained State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s birthday, cursing Min Aung Hlaing on his birthday and street protests.

The eight-finger strike campaign is not just a protest against coup leader Snr-Gen Min Aung Hlaing and his military council and caretaker government, but an act of opposition against the entire mechanism of the military regime that has persecuted the Myanmar people since 1962.

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