I have always been intrigued in Burma. I came close to traveling to Burma in March, 1988 but failed to get a visa to visit the country. While trying to get to the Burmese embassy, we got suck in a massive traffic jam in a tuk tuk in Bangkok. (Bangkok is known for its' traffic, pollution and especially tuk tuk exhaust--like so many Asian countries I have traveled to.)
When we finally arrived at the Burmese embassy it was closed . Later we learned that this monstrous traffic jam was caused by a huge student demonstration protesting outside the embassy...This was moments before the 8888 uprising.
Triggered by brutal police repression of student-led protests causing the death of over a hundred students and civilians in March and June 1988, widespread protests and demonstrations broke out on August 8 throughout the country. The military responded by firing into the crowds, alleging Communist infiltration. Violence, chaos and anarchy reigned. Civil administration had ceased to exist, and by September of that year, the country was on the verge of a revolution. The armed forces, under the nominal command of General Saw Maung staged a coup on September 18 to restore order. During the 8888 Uprising, as it became known, the military killed thousands. The military swept aside the Constitution of 1974 in favor of martial law under the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) with Saw Maung as chairman and prime minister.
Here we are 20 years later...
The demonstrations, which at their height early last week brought an estimated 100,000 people into the streets of Yangon to demand an end to military rule, were sparked by widespread anger over steep fuel prices in August and swelled as Buddhist monks took a leading role.
In an effort to shut down the flow of news from the closed and tightly controlled nation, the authorities have cut off Internet connections and have harassed and arrested local journalists.