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Myanmar marks 21st anniversary of failed student uprising

world Updated: Aug 08, 2009 17:02 IST

AFP
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Exiled Myanmar nationals in Bangkok on Saturday called for democracy at home as they marked the 21st anniversary of the 1988 uprising with their leader Aung San Suu Kyi behind bars.

Some 50 activists outside the Myanmar embassy in the Thai capital donned white T-shirts and red head scarves, shouting: "We want democracy!", with similar actions planned around the world, including Japan, Canada and France.

The demonstrations mark the anniversary of the student-led uprising against Myanmar's military rulers that began on August 8, 1988, and was crushed that September by the army, killing more than 3,000 people.

However, in Myanmar's main city Yangon Saturday, the streets were quiet amid tightened security for the anniversary, with police trucks patrolling overnight as state media denounced anti-government groups.

"The government and the people have had to work hard together for a long time to make our nation what it is today. Therefore, we can't let anyone to destroy it," an editorial in English-language newspaper the New Light of Myanmar said.

The 1988 uprising made Suu Kyi a national hero, but the Nobel Peace Prize laureate has been locked up for nearly 14 of the past 19 years. She is now awaiting a verdict, due Tuesday, in her trial on charges of breaking the rules of her house arrest.

She is being tried over an incident in May when American national John Yettaw swam to her lakeside home -- he says to inform her of a vision he had that she would be assassinated.

Yettaw is currently being treated for epileptic fits in Yangon General Hospital but is also on trial alongside her and two of her female aides. All four face up to five years in prison.

British foreign office minister Ivan Lewis Saturday released a statement to coincide with the anniversary, calling again for Suu Kyi's release and that of more than 2,100 other political prisoners in Myanmar.

"I want to pay tribute to all Burma's political prisoners. Their courage and resilience in the face of the abuse of their fundamental human rights is humbling," Lewis said, referring to the country by its former name.

Lewis also recalled the brutal crackdown in November 2008 when monks led mass protests in Myanmar before being beaten back by security forces.