YANGON, Myanmar (AP) — Subdued religious ceremonies by activists and pro-democracy politicians marked the anniversary Sunday of the 1988 uprising that was brutally crushed by Myanmar's military.
More than 1 million people rose up on Aug. 8 that year to protest an entrenched military-backed regime headed by Gen. Ne Win that had wiped out the savings of many by a sudden demonetization of the currency.
An estimated 3,000 people were killed before the demonstrations were crushed in September. Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar's detained pro-democracy leader, rose to prominence during the uprising.
"We are holding this religious ceremony in memory of those who had sacrificed their lives during the protest and in honor of those who are in prison for their beliefs and for those who had taken part in the nationwide protests 22 years ago," said Tint Hsan, a former student activist who organized the event.
The ceremony in an eastern suburb was attended by politicians and many activists, including some Buddhist monks recently freed from prison.
Yangon's streets were quiet, and residents went about their normal Sunday routines, with some having forgotten the anniversary date. Others gave food to Buddhist monks to mark the protests.
Student activists from the '88 generation managed to make their voices heard again in 2007 in an uprising led by Buddhist monks, which also was put down violently by the military. Many of them were given prison sentences of 65 years.
"I don't want people to go out on the streets and get killed or imprisoned again. We believe that we can bring about a change of government through elections," said Cho Cho Kyaw Nyein, general secretary of the newly registered Democratic Party.
The ruling junta has called for the first polls in two decades to be held later this year, though no date has yet been set. Critics have dismissed the election as a sham designed to cement nearly 50 years of military rule in Myanmar, also known as Burma.
Mrs. Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy party is boycotting the polls because of what it calls unfair and undemocratic election laws. It was disbanded in May because it refused to register.
The league swept elections in 1990 but was not allowed to take power. Mrs. Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, has been held under house arrest by the military government for about 14 of the past 20 years.