Myanmar dissidents yesterday held a Buddhist ceremony in Yangon to mark the 18th anniversary of the military's brutal crackdown on pro-democracy protests that left hundreds, if not thousands, dead.
Amid tightened security in Yangon, Myanmar's former capital, more than 200 veterans of the so-called "8-8-88" crackdown and opposition politicians participated in an early-morning robe offering ceremony to Buddhist monks at the Tharthanatheikpan temple.
The ceremony, also attended by several Western diplomats, was led by former student leader Min Ko Naing, who spent more than a decade in jail for playing a key role in the nationwide anti-military demonstrations that rocked Myanmar 18 years ago and came to a bloody end on Aug. 8, 1988.
On that date Myanmar's military launched a brutal crackdown on increasingly belligerant pro-democracy protesters, killing hundreds -- possibly thousands -- and placing thousands more in jail.
The date, 8-8-88, was reportedly deemed auspicious by Myanmar's notoriously superstitious military hierarchy who have ruled the Southeast Asian nation since 1962 and continue to do so today.
In Bangkok, a dozen Burmese protesters gathered outside the Myanmar embassy to mark the anniversary and light prayer candles for the 8-8-88 victims.
Thailand, which neighbors Myanmar, has been the main refuge for Myanmar dissidents, with mixed treatment from various Thai governments, since Aug. 8, 1988.
Waving posters reading "8-8-88, Don't Forget, Don't Give Up," and pictures of Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, the protesters dispersed peacefully.
Suu Kyi has been under house arrest in her family's Yangon compound since May, 2003. Myanmar's ruling junta decided to extend Suu Kyi's imprisonment by another year last May, claiming her freedom would pose a threat to national security.