08/06/2008, 00.00
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Burmese university students challenge junta, remember slaughter of 8 August 1988

On the eve of the 20th anniversary of the popular uprising in which 3,000 people lost their lives, students have prepared a pamphlet that commemorates the military junta’s massacres. Dissidents ask help from the West to end the country’s international isolation.

Yangon (AsiaNews/Agencies) – University students in Yangon have prepared an anti-government pamphlet and poster campaign to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the 8 August 1988 protests and the military dictatorship’s bloody crackdown.

During the protests in 1988 more than 3,000 people were killed; for this reason the government is at present tightening security measures to prevent any form of dissent.

Students at Yangon’s Dagon University sent a letter to its rector and vice-rector, asking them to participate in protest actions in commemoration of the uprising set for Friday.

Security appears tighter around all universities which confirms that the junta fears demonstrations like those led by Buddhist monks last September.

Former student movement leaders said they plan to wear black on 8 August in memory of the victims of 1988.

Prayers will be held at temples and offerings of food made to monks.

Twenty years later former students remember 1988 as a time when everyone was involved, when the “whole country was marching in the streets

Today that situation is not likely to be repeated. Indeed increasingly many are asking that the country not be isolated from the rest of the international community.

For some dissidents as the junta feels more threatened instead of opening to the world, it turns inward and towards those countries like China, Russia or India that have no qualms about human rights

“Isolation has pushed the Burmese military toward authoritarian regimes instead of democracies,” said Aung Naing Oo, who is now a political analyst in Thailand.

“So it's time for the West to think about these issues in perspective and try to engage the military” for the good of the Burmese people.

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