Kentucky Burmese community commemorates people's rebellion
By CAROLINE EGGERS
Aug. 04, 2018
BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (AP) — 8. 8. 88.
Myanmar's resistance began with the Nationwide People of Burma Pro-Democracy Protests, commonly known as the 8888 Uprising, when hundreds of thousands of Burmese people marched through the streets to protest the militant regime of Gen. Ne Win.
Thirty years later, Bowling Green's Burmese community will honor the revolutionary occasion with friends, family and food at the Buddhaovada Monastery at 1170 Craighead Lane in Bowling Green.
"We have this kind of ceremony every year to commemorate those who were killed, wounded or imprisoned," said Khin "Jimmy" Maung Nyunt, a local leader of the Burmese community and chairman of the event's organizing committee. "We invite all of the Burmese community and those close to us."
On Aug. 8, 1988, Burmese people chanted and sang in Myanmar's former capital, Rangoon, to protest 26 years of police brutality, government corruption and widespread oppression. Before midnight, troops opened fire on the crowd and killed an estimated 3,000 unarmed people.
Despite the horrors of that night, demonstrations continued through the country and the militant regime known as the junta collapsed. Although it wasn't long until the military reclaimed power, the event is thought to have sparked a lasting rebellion that continues today, according to various historical accounts.
In 2015, the country held its first official democratic election. The people elected Aung San Suu Kyi as state counselor of Myanmar, which is the equivalent of a prime minister, in 2016 — a wish the people had supported since the Nobel Peace Prize laureate founded the National League for Democracy in 1988.
Today, tribal conflicts continue to intensify and refugees continue to flee the country. Last October, The New Yorker reported that 400,000 Rohingya Muslim refugees fled Myanmar with accounts of "indiscriminate slaughter and mass rape."
Nyunt wants people to be aware that Myanmar is not yet a democratic, de-militarized nation.
"We would like to remind our people we haven't reached the ideas or objectives of the 1988 national uprising," Nyunt said. "We have to go through obstacles. We have to have unity, understanding. It's an unfinished task."
The event starts at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday with a variety of religious rituals for different faiths, including Buddhism, Christianity, Islam and others. A brief lunch will follow.
The opening ceremony begins at noon. There will be a salute to the flags and to fallen heroes of the uprising, and then Nyunt will make a speech.
Family, friends and members of the Burmese community will then reminisce about the uprising and Myanmar's past, and discuss messages of the country's present and future — which hopefully will include the establishment of a democracy founded on fundamental human rights, freedom and equality, according to Nyunt.
"There is still a lot to be done to reach our final destination," Nyunt said. "The military dictatorship can come back one way or the other."
Information from: Daily News, http://www.bgdailynews.com