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Burma Day August 8, 2008: Berkeley City Hall Burmese Flag Raising: 7:45-8:30 am; San Francisco Burma Day Rally: 4-7 pm
Photo Collection of 8888 uprising:
Events in Burma 1988/89:

Dear All,

It is amazing that many news articles published during the 1988 people's uprising can still be found in New York Time online site. Below are some of the articles that would help you go back 20 years in time.

Modern technology and equipments such as internet, websites, blogs, cell phones, digital cameras and computers have largely been credited for widespread information about last September protests and crackdowns in Burma. However, in 1988, in Burma, internet was unheard-of, and personnel computers were so rare. Of course there were no cell phones and no digital cameras. So, amid the regime's strict control of news, how could the people of Burma realized a massive nation-wide protests (known as 8888 on August 8, 1988) far larger in scope and scale then the one in last September. The credit largely goes to WAVE radios and foreign broadcasting stations. In fact, these are the only source of reliable news accessible by most people in Burma (they still are).

Among others, the last article pasted below, "
Making Revolution Happen" was an interview by Irrawaddy with Young BBC reporter (in 2003)  who lived in hiding in Rangoon during the 1988 uprising and reported/relayed daily news and messages to the people through BBC. Anticipating and listening to his reports had been part of our daily routine during 8888 protests.

Twenty years later, the people of Burma still remain oppressed  under the same dictatorship, but in far worse condition and oppression. Much of Burma's natural resources (then largely untouched: Gems, Fish, Forest, Oil and Gas) have been grabbed by the greedy neighbors. Besides, the UN is still wavering, and despite its sanctions, the US still let Chevron's Investment (regime's Cash Cow, lifeline and living example of dirty exploitation) continue to assist the regime.

No doubt that the people of Burma have suffered greatly and lost many battles; and the freedom they seek seems more illusive than ever. However, their cause is just, their will is strong and most importantly more and more people of the world (like yourself) is on their side if not the powerful governments and institutions. Let's make sure together the people of Burma win the war of Freedom sooner.

Please join the Bay Area 8888 uprising anniversary actions on August 8:

Nyunt Than

1. Economic Changes in Burma Spurring Unrest (September 15, 1987)
2. Tension Reported High In Burma After Clashes (July 2, 1988)
3. Five Reportedly Slain During Burma Unrest (AP, August 8, 1988)
4. Burma Names a Civilian as New Leader (August 20, 1988)
5. The Students Behind Burma's Revolt (August 21, 1988)
7. Burmese Revolt Seen as Spontaneous (September 10, 1988)
9. ROAD TO UPHEAVAL IN POLITICS FOR BURMESE (Published: September 11, 1988)
10. Many in Burma Say Ne Win Continues to Pull the Strings ( September 13, 1988)
11. Burma Unrest: A Chronology (September 19, 1988)
12. Burma's Army, Despite Foe, Appears to Control Capital (September 22, 1988)
13. Burmese Whose Silenced Voice Echoes: Aung San Suu Kyi (October 15, 1991)
14. Death of a Strongman: The Puppet Master of Burma (Time Asia: December 5, 2002)

15. IRRAWADDY: Making Revolution Happen
(Monday, September 1, 2003)

Photo Collection of August 8, 1988 uprising:
Events in Burma 1988/89:
Good collection of September 2007 Protest Photos:

Economic Changes in Burma Spurring Unrest

Published: September 15, 1987
LEAD: Burma, struggling with a rapidly deteriorating economy and the imminent danger of food shortages, has embarked on the most radical trade and monetary changes in a quarter of a century.

Burma, struggling with a rapidly deteriorating economy and the imminent danger of food shortages, has embarked on the most radical trade and monetary changes in a quarter of a century.

The steps have provoked student protests and led to confusion in the marketplace. All educational institutions have been closed indefinitely, according to Government radio broadcasts.

Over the last two weeks, the Government of Ne Win, who seized power in 1962, announced without warning that all restrictions on trade in staple foods were being lifted to get needed supplies into circulation.

Burmese were told on Sept. 1 that they are now allowed to buy, sell, store and transport rice, corn and bean crops free of Government control. Since 1966, most commodity prices and distribution systems have been set by the Ne Win administration. Some Currency Withdrawn

In addition, farmers will be required to pay taxes in foodstuffs, not cash, the Government said.

On Sept. 5, all currency notes except small denominations were withdrawn from circulation.

Reports reaching here from Rangoon, the Burmese capital, say that the cumulative effect of these decrees has thrown trade into confusion, with many shops closed. Students Voice Frustration

For the first time since 1974, there have been student disturbances in Rangoon, apparently prompted by the withdrawal of 25, 35 and 75 kyat notes, leaving only small bills in circulation. An American dollar is worth about 6.6 kyat at official rates, and six or seven times that amount on the black market.

On Sept. 6, a sweeping Government ordinance closed all universities, colleges, technical institutes, medical and dental schools, high schools, primary schools and part-time educational institutions, such as night schools and vocational schools, until further notice.

Students were reported to be voicing the frustrations of a wider public. Burmese interviewed earlier this year say many people have still not received new notes for bills turned in in 1985, when the Government changed the currency to cut down on black market trade. Students Join the Unemployed

Students, who say there are fewer and fewer jobs being created to meet their qualifications as the economy stumbles, are joining the unemployed or underemployed in large numbers.

Many are the children of parents who were formerly middle class, but who have seen their professions shrink under a military-dominated ''Burmese Way to Socialism,'' the official credo of the ruling Burmese Socialist Program Party. Most Burmese have been forced into some black market buying or selling to survive. High Literacy Level

Before the 25th anniversary, in March, of General Ne Win's seizure of power from a democratically elected government, Burma had asked the United Nations to classify the country as being among the ''least developed.''

Burma, with a high literacy level, is thought to have a per capita gross national product of about $180 a year -more than Vietnam's estimated $160 but far less than neighboring Thailand's $600. In recent months, the drought that is affecting much of Asia has added to food-production problems caused by what development specialists call a badly conceived Government rice-distribution system.

Signs that Burma's economy may be reaching a crisis came first in mid-August, when General Ne Win, as chairman of the Socialist Program Party, suddenly convened Government officials and announced that they must ''stop hiding the facts'' about the nation's economic failures.

International aid experts fear that if a significant part of this year's rice crop is lost, Burma - once one of the world's leading rice producers - could face famine for the first time. With few roads and minimal rail and air links, emergency relief could prove difficult.


NY Times: July 2, 1988

Tension Reported High In Burma After Clashes

LEAD: Western diplomats said today that an outward calm had returned to Burma after clashes between demonstrators and the police and military 10 days ago, but that tension remained unusally high.

Western diplomats said today that an outward calm had returned to Burma after clashes between demonstrators and the police and military 10 days ago, but that tension remained unusally high.

''There's a feeling of more to come,'' said a diplomat who returned recently from Rangoon, the Burmese capital.

Rangoon, Pegu, Moulmein, Prome and perhaps other cities are reported to remain under a 60-day, 6 P.M.-to-6 A.M. curfew imposed after the severe clashes on June 21.

All universities, colleges and high schools are said to be closed, and out-of-town students have been ordered to return to their villages. The military is out in force in the capital, a diplomat said. Toll Called Unreported

The clashes last month were set off by student demonstrations in the capital and other cities. The Government said nine people, including six policemen, were killed in the rioting in Rangoon, Mandalay and Pegu. Seventy-seven people, including 10 students, were reported arrested.

The diplomats and other experts on Burmese affairs say they believe both totals to be well short of the truth. But with a cowed population and the press wholly under Government control, reliable information is unavailable.

Some reports reaching here said unease was apparent not only among opponents of Gen. Ne Win's 26 years of draconian rule, but for the first time also in the military, which is the pillar of the Government.

The retired general, who seized power in a coup in 1962 and whose policy is called the Burmese Way to Socialism, dominates the country of 38 million through his position as chairman of the sole legal mass organization, the Burmese People's Program Party, and his unchallenged control over the military.

Diplomats and others interviewed, who are privy to the reporting of embassies in Rangoon or to word reaching Burmese here from relatives and friends inside their largely isolated country, said the military was reacting nervously to the widening and increasingly open popular resentment against the army that was evident in the clashes that took place last week. Further Trouble Expected

Evidence of more widespread support for student demonstrators than in the past is another element leading to an expectation of further troubles ahead for the Government.

A senior diplomat said officers feared that the military's deepening alienation from the people jeopardizes its expectation of continued military rule after General Ne Win leaves the scene. The general is at least 76 years old and is believed to have had two heart attacks or strokes.

At the same time, however, an embassy in Rangoon said there were no signs of splits within the army. ''The monolith appears intact,'' the embassy said.

Reporting about Burma is limited to secondary sources. This correspondent, like others known to be journalists, was refused a visa, as the Government has clearly increased its measures to guard against reporters even beyond its usual vigilance.

Visitors, resident diplomats and international officials say that since last year Burma's economic plight has severely worsened. As a result, opposition to General Ne Win's rule is reported to have spread from students and the deprived professional classes to the population at large. A 'Least-Developed Nation'

After a quarter century of the general's rule, the United Nations last year assigned Burma, a country rich in natural resources and talent, to its category of ''least-developed nations.'' Once the world's leading rice exporter, shipments abroad shrank last year to 150,000 tons, the lowest since independence from British rule in 1948. Distribution difficulties have led for the first time to reports of local food shortages.

Much of Burma's wealth in gemstones and precious woods leaves the countryside through border areas controlled by insurgents, without benefit to the national treasury. Much of what remains is said to be lost to the nation through widespread corruption from top to bottom of the military-dominated administrative structure.

The foreign debt stands near $4 billion; foreign-exchange reserves cover less than one month of imports.

Diplomats reported that this year, for the first time, ordinary citizens have demonstrated support for student protests.

Even Government announcements stressed that students, traditionally the vanguard of opposition, were ''a small group'' among ''a majority of civilians.'' Official reports said protesters wielding swords, sticks and slingshots had burned a police station, destroyed Government offices, factories, textile mills, stores and movie theaters and set fire to police family quarters. Police Brutality Reported

Diplomats reported considerable police brutality against the demonstrators. One unconfirmed report to an embassy asserted that 70 people, including 26 policemen, had been killed in Pegu alone.

The first incidents of open protest that rose to Burma's impoverished surface, largely placid since the last wave of serious student unrest in 1974, occurred last September. The Government, without warning, reduced to the value of scrap paper the highest denominations of banknotes. Bills that were worth $11.25, $5.25 and $3.75 were declared invalid and not exchangeable for new currency.

No explanation was given, but the action, which invalidated 60 to 80 percent of the money in circulation, was thought to have been directed partly against the extensive black market, which is at least as large as the official economy. Other targets of the action were believed to be inflation, which is very high but hard to calculate because of the extent of the unrecorded economy, and the cash holdings of the political and ethnic insurgents.

Whatever its main goal, the invalidation of the money also destroyed much of the nest eggs of the majority in a poor nation, whose people have no faith in the Government-owned savings institutions and keep their reserves in cash or gold.

Still, said a writer who specializes in Burma and has good contacts in the country, when students demonstrated in Rangoon and Mandalay and urged other Burmese to join, the response was feeble and the protests waned quickly. Started in Teahouse Brawl

But ill feelings persisted among students and spilled over into mass demonstrations on March 12. They began with a teahouse brawl between students and ruling party faithful at the edge of Rangoon and spread into marches to the center of the city.

Violent clashes took place over one week, during which, diplomats said, police brutality went far beyond the needs of crowd control. Male and female students alike were said to have been clubbed to the ground and savagely beaten. Some were reportedly beaten to death, and policemen were lynched.

The Government reported 2 dead and 140 arrested. People independent of the Government do not discredit a report circulated by Aung Gyi, a former associate of General Ne Win and now a dissident, that he knows of three police surgeons who said they had each performed 40 autopsies on riot victims.

During the March riots, much of the Rangoon public sided openly with the demonstrators. Many joined in marches, others gave shelter to students being chased by the police, and still others cheered the protesters from windows and balconies. Diplomats reported that police brutality, particularly toward women, was a major factor in turning sympathy in favor of the students. Protests on Campuses

Universities and schools were ordered closed. Reports suggest that in this period of enforced idleness an organized opposition movement was created among students and others. It became openly active when classes resumed May 30.

Protest meetings were held on campuses, during which students demanded the release of those in jail, the reinstatement of hundreds said to have been expelled and the right to form a student union.

The June 21 riot began with a meeting that led to a march downtown by perhaps 1,000 students. Once downtown, they were reportedly joined by many ordinary Burmese, including a significant number of Buddhist monks.

Diplomats, sensing a continuing air of what one called ''unfinished business,'' said the Government had reason to fear that July 19, commemorated as Martyrs' Day of the struggle for independence, may be the date of new anti-Government demonstrations.


Five Reportedly Slain During Burma Unrest

Published: August 8, 1988

LEAD: Official Burmese newspapers were quoted as reporting today that five people were killed and an undetermined number were wounded during anti-Government protests over the weekend. Students in Rangoon, the capital, reportedly called for a nationwide general strike Monday.

Official Burmese newspapers were quoted as reporting today that five people were killed and an undetermined number were wounded during anti-Government protests over the weekend. Students in Rangoon, the capital, reportedly called for a nationwide general strike Monday.

The official Chinese press agency, reporting from Rangoon, quoted official Burmese newspapers as saying that the police opened fire Saturday to quell protests in three cities.

The reports said that protests in Pegu, 50 miles north of Rangoon, were broken up when the police opened fire, and that two people were killed and one wounded.

In Yenangyaung, in central Burma, one person was wounded when the police fired on 2,000 protesters who defied a ban on demonstrations, the reports said. The reports did not describe the other casualties or say what happened in Thanatpin, the third city where unrest was reported.


August 20, 1988

Burma Names a Civilian as New Leader

LEAD: Burma named Attorney General Maung Maung, one of the Cabinet's two civilians, as the nation's new leader today, a week after widespread protests and violence forced his predecessor from office.

Burma named Attorney General Maung Maung, one of the Cabinet's two civilians, as the nation's new leader today, a week after widespread protests and violence forced his predecessor from office.

The first reports of reaction from Rangoon indicated that the people who have risen in protest remained unsatisfied and angry.

Diplomats in Rangoon said the selection of Mr. Maung Maung appeared to be an attempt to appease the protesters, who represent a broad cross section of the population and are calling for fundamental changes, including an end to 26 years of one-party rule.

But the diplomats said the students who led demonstrations last week, in which soldiers killed hundreds of people, issued a new call today for protests, including a strike similar to the one on Aug. 8 that touched off the violence. 'Things Have Gone Too Far Now'

''Things have gone too far now,'' said a Western diplomat reached by telephone in Rangoon. ''If all they're going to get is a shuffle of faces, the people have made it clear that this won't satisfy them.''

In a speech today reported by the official Burmese radio, the new leader did not directly address the main issues raised by the protesters. But he urged the ruling party to address the people's aspirations ''as soon as possible and as much as possible.''

''We need to review ourselves,'' he said, because it has become clear that ''consultation with the people has become weakened.''

Mr. Maung Maung is the third leader for Burma in the last month. On July 23, U Ne Win, who took power in a coup in March 1962, quit as leader of the Burma Socialist Program Party, citing a wave of protests that began in March. He was succeeded by U Sein Lwin, a former army general known for harsh suppression of dissent, but Mr. Sein Lwin resigned last Friday after a week of violent protests.

Mr. Maung Maung, 63 years old, was named President and leader of the nation's single party at a five-hour emergency session of the Parliament and party leadership today.

Some diplomats said Mr. Maung Maung, the fifth-ranking member of the Government, might have been chosen as a figurehead, with hard-line military men remaining in charge behind the scenes. Many diplomats say they believe Mr. Ne Win is still a power behind the Government. Member of the Ruling Clique

''They are seeking one of their own who might be acceptable to the people,'' one diplomat said.

The last week of Mr. Sein Lwin's 17-day tenure was marked by large, mostly peaceful demonstrations throughout the country that persisted despite shootings by the military. Hospital sources told diplomats they believed that more than 1,000 people were killed. Thousands more were arrested.

Mr. Maung Maung is a longtime associate and supporter of Mr. Ne Win, about whom he wrote a glowing biography, and is an author of the 1974 Constitution that enshrined the philosophies that have been so destructive to Burma.

Though the Government appeared to be making few concessions to the demonstrators, its radio station said a 10-man commission had been formed ''to study the economic, political and social wishes of the people.'' Question of Economic Revival

There was no indication that the one-party system would be changed, but the radio said ''qualified'' people who are not members of the ruling party could run for office.

In a half-hour speech to the 280-member party Central Committee that followed a brief address by Mr. Maung Maung, the deputy chairman of the Council of State, U Aye Ko, described at length economic changes begun by Mr. Ne Win before he left office.

These moves toward a more open economy do not appear to address the deep discontent and anger that have burst into the open around the country.

Mr. Maung Maung spoke in his address of plans for economic revival and said, ''If only the people had concentrated on these changes they would have been elated.''

A declaration by the nation's bar association this week listed seven demands, including creation of a multi-party system, an end to the state of emergency, the release of imprisoned students and Government critics, an end to the use of force against demonstrators, and an independent investigation and full disclosure of the casualties in recent killings.

Diplomats said Rangoon was tense and quiet today with a highly visible military presence.

August 21, 1988

THE WORLD; The Students Behind Burma's Revolt


LEAD: ''WE have no leader, we have no arms,'' said a Burmese student, lifting the bandanna that masked his face as he marched through Rangoon on a recent day of anti-Government protests. ''But one day we will remove this Government,'' he went on. ''They are shooting at us and we will die. But we will not die in vain.

''WE have no leader, we have no arms,'' said a Burmese student, lifting the bandanna that masked his face as he marched through Rangoon on a recent day of anti-Government protests. ''But one day we will remove this Government,'' he went on. ''They are shooting at us and we will die. But we will not die in vain.''

The students have been in the vanguard of a national uprising that drew support from workers, civil servants, the influential Buddhist clergy and, last week, in formal statements from the nation's lawyers and doctors. Unlike student movements in many parts of the world, students in Burma have always been close to farmers and workers, accepted as their forward ranks.

This month it is the students who, for the most part, have given their lives for political change. Hospital sources have estimated to diplomats in Rangoon that more than 1,000 people died in five days of demonstrations two weeks ago.

Most scholars and diplomats who watch Burmese events from neighboring Thailand believe that the movement the students have unleashed will not stop until broad political and economic changes are achieved.

Loosely organized in cells that mimic the structure of the nation's closed Government, the students succeeded in bringing down Burma's new leader, U Sein Lwin, on Aug. 12. On Friday, U Maung Maung, one of only two civilians in the Cabinet, was named to replace him in what was seen as an attempt to mollify the protesters. But the students called immediately for more demonstrations.

The student movement has roots that go back to the early decades of the century. A student strike in the early 1920's set in motion an independence movement that reached a peak in 1938, the ''year of revolution'' that marked the beginning of the end of British colonial rule. In that year, oil field workers marched on Rangoon to support the students, much as the population has rallied behind them this month.

The students have commonly shared the poverty of the rest of the people, living in hostels and rented rooms in marketplaces and sheltered by their neighbors when the authorities clamp down on them. Together with the bulk of the population, Burma's university students have remained separated from the country's small elite, whose children travel abroad to study. For the most part, graduates of Rangoon's colleges of arts, engineering and medicine face joblessness or work as taxi drivers, tourist guides or fortunetellers.

With this potentially rich nation's shrinking wealth reserved for the elite class, the students have become desperate and angry. The current protest clearly caught the Government by surprise. Since the 1970's, when student uprisings were crushed by force, the Government has succeeded in keeping order with rifles and bayonets. It plainly expected to succeed again. The first of the current round of student riots, last September, fizzled when the frightened population ignored the students' call to join them. It was at that time, say those who watch Burmese events from Bangkok, that the students began to organize the loose groupings that have proved successful in organizing recent rallies.

The groups fall under an umbrella called the All-Burma Democratic Students Association, whose leaders are not known. Another group, the Rangoon Students Union, is a secret revival of an organization crushed in the 1960's.

According to Westerners and Burmese here who are in touch with Rangoon, the students have organized separate groups to prepare leaflets, to collect money and food, to give first aid and to maintain security. But the cells have remained distinct from one another and apparently difficult for authorities to penetrate.

After an outbreak of protest in March, some students were sent into the countryside to organize support. Buddhist monasteries became clandestine shelters where placards and flags were made and plans were laid for coordinated protest.

The flashpoint came in July when U Ne Win, Burma's leader since 1962, resigned and was replaced by Mr. Sein Lwin, a former general who had carried out brutal suppressions of student uprisings. The anger was palpable among the students when the protests came to a head on Aug. 8.

As soldiers stood by, the order to fire not yet given, students carrying red flags, symbolizing courage, marched in the city center, ripping off their bandannas to scream their protests. Wherever they went, crowds applauded, tossing bunches of bananas and handfuls of cheroots in what had become a ritual of support for the students. The killings, far from ending the uprising, appeared only to have stoked the anger of the students, and that of the Burmese people now once again following their lead.


September 2, 1988


LEAD: Confrontation between the Burmese Government and its people intensified today as huge crowds filled the streets to demand democratic elections and the President responded on radio that no further concessions would be made.

Confrontation between the Burmese Government and its people intensified today as huge crowds filled the streets to demand democratic elections and the President responded on radio that no further concessions would be made.

Diplomats in Rangoon, the capital, said that the demonstration was one of the largest they had seen and that it included protesters from outside the city.

They said it was also significant because of the large participation of members of Government departments, notably the Ministry of Defense, who identified themselves with banners.

After the crowds had dispersed, the President and leader of the nation's only political party, U Maung Maung, said on radio that the Government would not alter its plan to hold a meeting Sept. 12 at which he would propose a referendum on the protesters' demand for free elections.

''This arrangement is the most that we can concede,'' he said. Interim Government Rejected

Mr. Maung Maung, a lawyer who helped draw up the nation's Constitution, said creation of an interim government to oversee elections, a step that has been widely demanded, would be unconstitutional.

In what diplomats said might have been a useful gesture at an earlier stage, Mr. Maung Maung said he welcomed the formation this week of a student union that revives an organization banned in the early 1960's.

He said the Government would build a union headquarters to replace the building that was dynamited in July 1962 in retribution for student protests.

Diplomats said they believed that none of this would have much effect on the masses of people who turned out in a monsoon downpour today.

The diplomats said they had heard unconfirmed reports of a similar demonstration and strike in Mandalay, the nation's second-largest city. Bank Official Reportedly Protests

An indication of the boldness of the protesters was a report that an official of the Foreign Trade Bank had participated at a rally in central Bandoola Park. Reuters said he appealed to the people to protect the bank from officials who were trying to withdraw $6 million. The Associated Press quoted an unnamed bank official as saying people close to the former Burmese leader, U Ne Win, were trying to withdraw about $3 million.

The Guardian, a Rangoon newspaper that has shrugged off censorship to take the lead in publishing news about the opposition, carried a statement on its front page credited to the staff of the Foreign Ministry demanding ''a true people's interim government.''

''We solemnly pledge to bring back the dignity Burma once had in the world community,'' the statement said. Opposition Tries to Organize

Another statement in The Guardian said that representatives of the official News Agency of Burma, the Government magazine Myawdi and the newspaper agreed to support the protesters.

Mr. Maung Maung's statement appeared to leave the fragmented opposition few options except to continue its strike and protests. And if these continue, diplomats warned, the result will soon be serious shortages of food and fuel.

But the Government, too, faces difficulties in carrying out its plans to propose a referendum. Even the first step, the Government meeting set for Sept. 12, appears to be in question, a diplomat said. Resignations of party officials around the country and reported death threats against others if they attend the sessions could make it difficult to gather a quorum.

The diplomat said it appeared that the only alternative to continued Government control would be a move by the military. But despite many rumors, there was no reliable information on how the armed forces, the country's most powerful institution, might act.


September 8, 1988


LEAD: Looters raided Government offices and warehouses in Burma today, as the United States and other countries drew up plans to evacuate relatives of diplomats endangered by growing turmoil in Rangoon.

Looters raided Government offices and warehouses in Burma today, as the United States and other countries drew up plans to evacuate relatives of diplomats endangered by growing turmoil in Rangoon.

Leaders of the Burmese opposition, who have called a nationwide general strike for Thursday, vowed to bring hundreds of thousands of demonstrators into the streets to protest repressive one-party rule. But the new President of Burma, U Maung Maung, resisted demands for his resignation. His Burma Socialist Program Party seized power in a military coup and has ruled for 26 years.

The State Department spokesman, Charles E. Redman, said there was ''a continuing deterioration of the law-and-order situation'' in Burma, with ''increasing reports of looting and robberies.'' Orders to Shoot Looters

As the Burmese Government appeared headed for another confrontation with its political opponents, it ordered security forces, armed with rifles and automatic weapons, to shoot looters but not to interfere with peaceful demonstrators. The state-run Rangoon radio reported that Burmese soldiers had killed five people ransacking food warehouses.

But there was growing evidence of discontent in the armed forces as 10 army battalions and an air squadron stationed in the town of Hmawbi, near Rangoon, pledged their support to students and other demonstrators seeking the resignation of Mr. Maung Maung. There are more than 100 battalions in the Burmese Army, which has a total strength of 170,000 soldiers.

Reports reaching the State Department indicated that the authority of the Government was breaking down as violence and looting spread through the capital. U Aung Gyi, a former brigadier general who is now a leader of the opposition, said, ''The situation in Burma is near anarchy.'' He spoke in a telephone interview with a Japanese television station.

Mr. Redman said the State Department was ''considering procedures for the departure of Americans from Burma, in light of the present conditions.'' Diplomats at the American Embassy in Bangkok, Thailand, said dependents of American Embassy employees in Rangoon would be evacuated as soon as possible.

Mr. Redman said there had been ''no final decisions regarding the time or number of people'' to be evacuated. He added, ''Regardless of who or how many are withdrawn, we intend to maintain the operations of our embassy in Rangoon.''

Representative Stephen J. Solarz, Democrat of Brooklyn, who visited Burma over the weekend, said the upheaval there was a spontaneous manifestation of ''people power.''

''There is wall-to-wall support for the establishment of genuine multiparty democracy in Burma,'' said Mr. Solarz, who is chairman of the Asia subcommittee of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. ''The Government there has completely unraveled,'' he said. ''We are at the dawn of a new era, and it is very much in the interest of the United States to make it as clear as possible, as quickly as possible, that we are strongly on the side of democracy rather than dictatorship in Burma.''

Mr. Solarz said that U Ne Win, who led Burma into isolation and economic ruin during 26 years of authoritarian rule, ''continues to call the shots'' even though he stepped down as chairman of the Socialist Program Party on July 23. ''He seems to be the pre-eminent leader of the country,'' the Congressman said.

On Aug. 11, the United States Senate approved a resolution that condemned recent killings and mass arrests by the Burmese Army and urged President Reagan to encourage restoration of democracy in Burma. Mr. Solarz is introducing a similar resolution in the House. 'Revolution,' Moynihan Says

Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, author of the Senate measure, said: ''The protests in Burma are so widespread and so profound that they can only be characterized as a revolution. After 26 years of oppression, the people of Burma are now crying out to the world for democracy and human rights, for dignity and the chance for economic growth.''

In an interview, Mr. Moynihan, a New York Democrat, said the Reagan Administration ''did not welcome my initiative, did not welcome it at all.''

The Administration was apparently concerned that the measure might harm American relations with Burma. But a State Department official said today that the Administration would probably not oppose the resolution offered by Mr. Solarz.

The House resolution says the Administration should reconsider the wisdom of American aid programs in Burma. The United States gave Burma $14.3 million in aid last year. Half was for economic development, and half was for antidrug programs.

Diplomats in Rangoon said Italy and Israel had decided to evacuate dependents of embassy employees. Japan and Thailand were said to be considering similar moves.

Even though there have been many violent incidents in Burma in the last few weeks, American diplomats were not targets. Indeed, Mr. Solarz said that crowds in Rangoon cheered when he and the American Ambassador, Burton Levin, rode by in a car flying an American flag.

September 10, 1988

Burmese Revolt Seen as Spontaneous

LEAD: Experts on Burma portray the upheaval there as a spontaneous revolution by people craving democracy, and they say the only mystery is why it took the Burmese so long to rise up against an oppressive, authoritarian Government.

Experts on Burma portray the upheaval there as a spontaneous revolution by people craving democracy, and they say the only mystery is why it took the Burmese so long to rise up against an oppressive, authoritarian Government.

Prof. Josef Silverstein at Rutgers University, one of the few Burma scholars in the United States, said: ''This is one of the few examples of a pure popular revolution that we are seeing anywhere in the world. There are no leaders, there is no organization and there is no international movement outside the country pushing the people one way or the other.''

''What surprised me is that the Burmese Government has held on for so long, that this upheaval did not come at an earlier point,'' said Mr. Silverstein, a political scientist. U.S. Evacuates Dependents American experts assessed the situation there as the United States today evacuated 46 relatives of American Embassy employees in the midst of growing instability. They flew from Rangoon, the capital, to Bangkok, Thailand, on a commercial airliner. State Department officials said that another group of about the same size would leave Burma on Saturday. Before the evacuation, there were about 150 American embassy personnel and dependents in Burma.

Charles E. Redman, the State Department spokesman, said, ''I'm not sure that there are any ministries functioning these days'' in Rangoon. Nevertheless, he said, the American Embassy will continue to operate so it can send information to Washington.

Demonstrators in cities and towns across Burma, including many students, are demanding the immediate resignation of the president, U Maung Maung, and the establishment of an interim government to pave the way for multiparty democracy. Mr. Maung Maung is the leader of the country's only political party, the Burma Socialist Program Party, which seized power in a military coup and has ruled for 26 years.

John H. Badgley, curator of the Southeast Asia collection at the Cornell University library, said Mr. Maung Maung would be lucky to retain power for another week. Government 'Basically Defunct'

''The Government is basically defunct,'' Mr. Badgley said. ''There is a genuine collapse of government as we know it.'' In Mandalay, he said, a committee of students and monks under 30 years old is maintaining order and performing other functions of government.

Many people, including employees of Burmese embassies in Singapore, Japan and other countries, have resigned from the Socialist Program Party. Information reaching the State Department here indicates that scores of Burmese Government employees and at least several hundred members of the Burmese armed forces joined anti-Government demonstrations in Rangoon this week.

Mr. Badgley visited Burma last December and again in January and February of this year. ''I got a sense of a very short fuse on a stick of dynamite, and I was surprised that it had not exploded long ago,'' Mr. Badgley said in an interview.

U Ne Win, who ruled Burma from 1962 until his resignation in July of this year, led the country into isolation and economic ruin by following what he described as ''the Burmese road to socialism.'' Mr. Badgley said this was ''an autarkic ideology patterned after the economic systems of Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Poland.'' Stalin's 'Ideological Framework'

It became clear as early as 1963 that Mr. Ne Win did not want to bring Burma into the mainstream of the international economy through trade and development projects with other countries, Mr. Badgley said. For the last quarter-century, he said, ''Burma's leaders have been anti-Communist, but they viewed the economy with the ideological framework of Stalin.''

American experts on Burma said they believed some type of provisional government would soon emerge, probably with political and financial backing from Japan.

''Key Japanese officials want to stabilize the situation in Burma, hope Burma will open its markets to foreign investment and have indicated a preference that U Tin Oo should emerge as the leader of Burma,'' Mr. Badgley said. ''In foreign policy, this may be the most aggressive political maneuver Japan has engaged in since World War II.'' Mr. Tin Oo was chief of staff of the Burmese Army when he was removed by Mr. Ne Win in 1976.

Several Burmese opposition leaders said today that they had established a provisional government under the leadership of U Nu, who was ousted in the military coup 26 years ago, but diplomats in Rangoon said it was not immediately clear whether the maneuver would succeed.

Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan said today that President Reagan should take immediate action to withhold American aid from the Government of Mr. Maung Maung.

''At such time as a democratic government is established, we should release the monies and offer increased support as well,'' said Mr. Moynihan, a New York Democrat.

The United States gave Burma almost $14.3 million in aid last year: $7 million for economic development, $7 million for anti-drug programs and $260,000 for military training. Moynihan Urges Aid Cutoff

Mr. Moynihan said the United States should not provide any more money to the Burmese Army because it had ''murdered peaceful demonstrators.'' He also said the Burmese armed forces ''use our assistance'' to spray carcinogenic herbicides on members of ethnic minority groups in opium-growing areas of northern Burma.

Diplomats at the Burmese Embassy here did not return telephone calls asking for comment on Mr. Moynihan's charges.

Discontent has been spreading in Burma for years. But Mr. Silverstein said the situation became intolerable for the Burmese people last September, when the Government took currency measures that had the effect of reducing the value of assets that many people held in cash by 70 to 80 percent.

The Government said the step was designed to curb narcotics traffic and the black market in Burma. But it set off protests by students, who have been in the forefront of political activity since they fought for Burma's independence from Britain in the late 1940's.



Published: September 11, 1988

LEAD: Following is a chronology of events leading to the decision today by the Burma Socialist Program Party to end its 26-year monopoly on power:

Following is a chronology of events leading to the decision today by the Burma Socialist Program Party to end its 26-year monopoly on power:

March - Hundreds of students and others riot in Rangoon campuses and streets, and unofficial reports say as many as 100 are killed by security units.

June - Hundreds stage demonstrations and battle riot police in Rangoon and other cities. The Government says nine people are killed, but Western diplomats say the figure is higher. The Government closes most campuses.

July 23 - Gen. Ne Win, who has ruled Burma since a 1962 coup, resigns as chairman of the ruling Burma Socialist Program Party. He cites the anti-Government riots and announces a referendum on one-party rule.

July 26 - Gen. Sein Lwin, who reportedly led forces that suppressed the riots in March, is named to succeed General Ne Win.

July 30 - The authorities detain the most prominent Government critic, U Aung Gyi.

Aug. 3 - Martial law is declared in Rangoon after thousands of students protest the appointment of Mr. Sein Lwin.

Aug. 10 - The radio says 66 people have been killed, 160 wounded and 1,500 arrested in Rangoon street battles over the preceding two days.

Aug. 11 - The radio reports another 15 killed in anti-Government riots in Rangoon, bringing the official death toll to about 95. Other sources say hundreds have died in rioting. The military commander, Gen. Sau Maung, delivers a radio address warning of anarchy. A guerrilla leader calls for a nationwide revolt.

Aug. 12 - Mr. Sein Lwin resigns as President and party chairman.

Aug. 19 - U Maung Maung is named Burma's first civilian leader in 26 years. Students demanding an end to one-party rule call for a nationwide strike.

Aug. 24 - Mr. Maung Maung lifts martial law and curfews in Rangoon and other cities and announces a Sept. 12 congress of the ruling party to consider a referendum on multiparty elections.

Aug. 25 - The Government releases Mr. Aung Gyi and other political prisoners.

Aug. 26 - Insein Jail burns. Looting begins. Widespread anti-Government protests continue over the following two weeks.

Sept. 9 - Former Prime Minister U Nu says he is forming a provisional Government and calls for elections Oct. 9. About 500 servicemen leave barracks and join protesters in the first major military defections. Embassies evacuate more than 230 dependents and nonessential employees.

Sept. 10 - Ruling party declares an end to its monopoly of power and calls for multiparty elections.


September 13, 1988

Many in Burma Say Ne Win Continues to Pull the Strings

LEAD: Shortly before the announcement Saturday that free elections would be held in Burma, official cars were seen entering Ady Road, where the country's retired strongman, U Ne Win, maintains a lakeside residence behind heavy military guard.

Shortly before the announcement Saturday that free elections would be held in Burma, official cars were seen entering Ady Road, where the country's retired strongman, U Ne Win, maintains a lakeside residence behind heavy military guard.

Mr. Ne Win himself has not been seen in public since he announced his surprise resignation July 23, and it is impossible even to confirm that he is still in Burma.

But after some initial confusion, few people in Rangoon now appear to have any doubt that the 77-year-old former general remains as firmly in control of the Government as he has been since he seized power in a coup 26 years ago. Growing Skepticism

Diplomats say this sense has fueled a widespread mistrust of the Government and of the apparent concessions it is making in the face of broad-based, nationwide protests.

On the streets of Rangoon, the diplomats find a suspicion among the Burmese that such moves are little more than maneuvers by the men who have manipulated them for so many years.

''Whatever changes they announce, it all means nothing as long as Ne Win is still there,'' said a diplomat in describing the prevailing attitude. Large Protests Continue

Underscoring this attitude, hundreds of thousands of people once again marched in the streets of the capital today to reject the Government's offer of the multiparty election the protesters had demanded.

Three opposition figures who have not always agreed in the past issued a joint statement insisting that fair elections could only be held under the supervision of a neutral interim government.

''The people have the feeling that their Government has tricked them for too long,'' a diplomat said. ''They don't see these as concessions but as traps.''

One of the few outsiders who has met the current Burmese leader, U Maung Maung, was the Democratic Representative from New York, Stephen J. Solarz. He said his visit last week convinced him that Mr. Ne Win ''continues to call the shots.''

''Virtually everybody I spoke to said he was not managing day to day affairs, but there was the sense that no decision may be made without his consent,'' Mr. Solarz said.

Unlike the final days of Ferdinand E. Marcos in the Philippines, neither Mr. Solarz nor, so far as is known, any other foreign official, has met with Mr. Ne Win in his time of crisis.

Because of this, Mr. Ne Win has isolated himself from the international pressure that contributed to the departures of men like Mr. Marcos when their populations turned against them.

Without such pressures, diplomats and other Burma-watchers say they believe that Mr. Ne Win will seek to continue to exercise power through the small group that has surrounded him since before his resignation. Case of Sein Lwin

At the top of this group, they say, is U Sein Lwin, the former general who was Mr. Ne Win's sergeant-major and aide in the postwar Fourth Burma Rifles that formed his initial power base.

The closeness of the two men, between whom there is said to be a father-son relationship, indicates that Mr. Sein Lwin was selected as a surrogate when he succeeded Mr. Ne Win as party leader and President in July, the diplomats said.

But his reputation as the man who carried out brutal suppression of student protests on behalf of Mr. Ne Win aroused anger, and he was forced by continuing demonstrations to resign after just 17 days in office.

His selection is seen by some diplomats as the first of a series of blunders that demonstrate that if Mr. Ne Win is indeed, as Mr. Solarz said, calling the shots, he is seriously misreading the national mood.

Mr. Sein Lwin was replaced by Mr. Maung Maung, one of two civilians in the Cabinet, in what may have been an attempt to mollify the protesters.

But diplomats said his image as an honorable man and a moderate were apparently not enough to overcome public rejection of him as a member of Mr. Ne Win's inner circle. ''As long as the people think Ne Win is still there, none of his front men are going to be acceptable,'' a diplomat said. Loyalty Is Said to Pay

Mr. Ne Win has assured the loyalty of men like these over the decades by bonds of gratitude and by outright payments of large sums of money, which are said to have been deposited in Swiss bank accounts, according to diplomats and Burmese exiles here.

He is also said to have provided for himself and his family - he has married seven times, twice to the same woman - with property in Austria and West Germany and Swiss bank accounts.

The many stories Burmese tell about Mr. Ne Win include the assertion that he has first picks of the pearls, emeralds and rubies at the annual gem auction in Rangoon.

Though the extent of his wealth is not known, some Burmese say, probably with a good measure of exaggeration, that he could singlehandedly pay off the national debt of $4.4 billion.

During a general strike and protest earlier this month, officials of the Foreign Trade Bank said his associates were trying to withdraw a sum variously put at $3 million and $6 million.

While assuring the loyalty of the men around him, Mr. Ne Win has methodically removed any of his associates who might have become a threat to him. Two such men, U Aung Gyi, a former brigadier, and U Tin Oo, a former Defense Minister, are now leaders of the opposition.

Mr. Ne Win has similarly assured the vital loyalty of the top ranks of the military, experts on Burma said.

''The top commanders in the army are all like Ne Win's children,'' said Bertil Lintner, a Bangkok-based Swedish journalist who is an expert on Burma. ''He has fed them and raised them since they were young.'' Seen as Father Figure

In the population at large, one Burmese exile said, Mr. Ne Win is seen as a godfather, but a capricious and frightening one. ''Even though he is so awful, he is our father and we must respect him,'' the exile said.

Mr. Ne Win has relinquished formal power before with no apparent diminishing of his authority, when he gave up the Presidency but retained the chairmanship of the single party in 1981.

His warning to his colleagues then might apply today: ''Though I will not be in the Parliament or the Council of State, I shall be watching from the party and when I give advice where needed, do things with discretion. I shall continue to do things, but all those who would be directly concerned with the practical aspects of the work should exercise utmost caution.''

The prevailing analysis of Mr. Ne Win's resignation from the party leadership in July is now that he saw the coming Burmese crisis and hoped to deal with it from behind the scenes in a way that would preserve his good name for history.

September 19, 1988

Burma Unrest: A Chronology

LEAD: The coup in Burma yesterday was preceded by months of upheaval that began last spring. These were some of the key events:

The coup in Burma yesterday was preceded by months of upheaval that began last spring. These were some of the key events:

March and June - Street and campus protests break out in Rangoon and other cities; security forces kill as many as 100 demonstrators, according to unofficial reports.

July 23 - Gen. Ne Win resigns as chairman of the Burma Socialist Program Party and announces a referendum on one-party rule.

July 26 - Gen. Sein Lwin, a hard-line ally of General Ne Win, is named to succeed him.

Aug. 3 - To stem continued protests, martial law is declared in Rangoon.

Aug. 12 - Mr. Sein Lwin resigns as Burma's leader.

Aug. 19 - U Maung Maung, a civilian, is named the new leader, but students persist in their demand for an end to one-party rule. Within a week, martial law and curfews are lifted, and prominent political prisoners are released. But the protests continue.

Aug. 26 - A jail is burned and looting begins.

Sept. 9 - Military defections are reported. A former Prime Minister, U Nu, says he is forming a provisional government.

Sept. 10 - The ruling party declares an end to its monopoly of power and calls for multiparty elections.

Sept. 12 - Mass demonstrations reject the party plan for elections, which have been endorsed by Parliament.

Sept. 16 - Amid huge demonstrations, the ruling party announces changes in membership rules that would loosen the party's hold on power.

Sept. 17 - The opposition rejects the latest Government move; troops fire at demonstrators.

Sept. 18 - Rangoon Radio announces a military takeover.


September 22, 1988

Burma's Army, Despite Foe, Appears to Control Capital


The Burmese Army appeared today to be consolidating its control over the capital, Rangoon, but opposition leaders remained defiant and diplomats said militant students might be preparing for guerrilla warfare.

Gen. Saw Maung, the leader of Sunday's military takeover, was named Prime Minister by his own nine-member Cabinet, the Burmese radio announced. He is the third man to head the embattled Burmese Government in two months.

Diplomats say they believe that General Saw Maung - like his two predecessors, U Sein Lwin and U Maung Maung - is acting on the orders of U Ne Win, who led the country for 26 years until he resigned his as party chief on July 23.

The diplomats, reached by telephone, said sporadic shooting could be heard throughout the city today, though the violence that they said had killed hundreds since Sunday had subsided. Fighting Reported in Mandalay

They said they had heard unconfirmed reports of heavy fighting in Mandalay, the country's second largest city, which has in effect been under the control of students and Buddhist monks for weeks.

A military spokesman, Kyaw San, said soldiers had killed 67 people, wounded 37 and arrested 100 on Tuesday and today ''in the course of the Government's law and order restoration work.'' The Rangoon radio reported Tuesday that 59 people had been killed that day alone.

The figure brought the Government's count of deaths to at least 144, since Sunday, according to U Sein Win, the former editor of The Guardian, a Burmese newspaper, who now reports for The Associated Press. Reuters quoted a Burmese radio report listing 170 killed since the weekend.

Western journalists have generally been barred from entering Burma, and accurate casualty counts are impossible to obtain in the confused and dangerous situation. Diplomats say the Government's counts have consistently been unrealistically low. Protests From the West

Reuters reported that the United States Ambassador, Burton Levin, called for the Burmese party leadership to condemn army killings of unarmed civilians, including women and children. It also said the Ambassadors of France, Britain, Italy, the Netherlands and West Germany had delivered a note to the Foreign Ministry in Rangoon that said, ''We must protest in the strongest terms at the renewed killing of unarmed demonstrators in defiance of respect for human rights.''

The military takeover appeared for the moment to have succeeded in halting the anti-Government demonstrations and in subduing much of the civilian resistance.

Gunfire was reported at the campus of Rangoon University, but travel in the city remained dangerous and the reports could not be confirmed.

The Thai authorities reported that hundreds of Burmese students had crossed into Thailand at border towns, saying the military was rounding up students. Opposition Figures at Homes

But leading opposition figures remained at their homes, guarded by cordons of militant students. They issued statements saying they rejected the new military administration.

They said that they would not take part in elections administered by the current Government and that although street demonstrations had ceased, strikes would continue.

An aide to one opposition leader, U Tin Oo, said he was at home awaiting a response from General Saw Maung to a request to meet him together with the other main opposition figures, Aung San Suu Kyi and Aung Gyi.

The military has moved back to Oct. 3 its deadline for striking workers to return to their jobs. Diplomats said that date had now become the latest in a series of confrontational deadlines set by both sides over the last six weeks. BLOCK LEADERS ORGANIZED

NEW DELHI, Sept. 21 (Special to The New York Times) - Burmese students and other protest leaders have organized networks in almost every block of Rangoon to provide food to demonstrators and pass on information about Government movements, travelers arriving here say.

''Every area has a leader who organizes food, there are different leaders for different organizations and they get their supplies from the business people,'' one of the travelers, Dari Keivom, the wife of the ranking Indian diplomat in Rangoon, said today.


October 15, 1991

WOMAN IN THE NEWS; Burmese Whose Silenced Voice Echoes: Aung San Suu Kyi


Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the daughter of the founder of modern Burma, always understood that she had a special obligation to her father, U Aung San, martyred by an assassin's bullet in 1947 when she was only 2 years old, and to her country. But for many years the nature of that responsibility was unclear to her.

In 1988, however, after nearly 30 years of isolationist, autocratic rule under U Ne Win, a revolution swept her up and pushed her forward, until she became its leader and most potent symbol. Paradoxically, she is even more powerful today, after more than two years of forced silence and isolation under a repressive military regime.

When she married her British husband, Prof. Michael Aris, in 1972, "I made him promise that if there was ever a time I had to go back to my country, he would not stand in my way," she said in an interview in December 1988 in Yangon, formerly known as Rangoon. "And he promised."

Listening then in the house of her mother at 46 University Avenue, where Mrs. Aung San Suu Kyi would be detained incommunicado starting in July 1989, Professor Aris broke in to say: "That's true. She made me promise." Separated From Her Family

But it is unlikely that Professor Aris could have understood at the time the personal cost of the commitment and courage that would earn this year's Nobel Peace Prize for Mrs. Aung San Suu Kyi. Mr. Aris and their two teen-age sons have not been allowed to visit Mrs. Aung San Suu Kyi since Christmas 1989, and the Burmese authorities have tried to play on her love of family to persuade her to abandon her political goals and leave the country voluntarily.

At the same time, the military has publicly scorned her marriage to a foreigner, a national of Burma's former colonial power, and made other derogatory remarks about her private life.

Aung San Suu Kyi was born in Rangoon on June 19, 1945. She left Burma in 1960, when her mother was named Ambassador to India. After studying in India she attended Oxford University in Britain, where she took a degree in politics, philosophy, and economics, and met Professor Aris, a scholar of Tibetan anthropology. He is currently a visiting professor at Harvard University.

After their marriage in 1972, they lived in Bhutan, where he was a tutor to the royal family, and in Japan, where she was a visiting scholar at Kyoto University, before returning to in 1974 to Oxford, where her husband accepted a teaching position. Returned to Burma in '88

It was family that drew Mrs. Aung San Suu Kyi (pronounced awng sahn soo chee) back to Burma, now called Myanmar, in 1988.

She and her husband had made a home at Oxford. But when her mother, Daw Khin Kyi, became gravely ill, Mrs. Aung San Suu Kyi returned to Burma in April 1988 to nurse her. She slept by her side every night for four months, as protests against the regime of Mr. Ne Win gathered pace.

Her involvement was gradual. "I obviously had to think about it," she said in the 1988 interview. "But my instinct was, 'This is not a time when anyone who cares can stay out.' As my father's daughter, I felt I had a duty to get involved."

She also felt her mother would have understood. "I'm sure this is what she would have wanted," Mrs. Aung San Suu Kyi said. She recalled that her mother was attending a meeting when she was informed that her 9-year-old son had died in a drowning accident. "She stayed and finished her work," she said.

After a harsh crackdown by the armed forces in August and September of that year, in which more than 3,000 protesters are estimated to have been killed, the military regime promised elections and a gradual return to democracy, which had been stifled since a 1962 coup by Mr. Ne Win.

Mrs. Aung San Suu Kyi, a politician virtually by chance in the manner of President Corazon C. Aquino in the Philippines, came to articulate the aspirations of ordinary Burmese. Elegant and well-spoken in Burmese and English, she often demonstrated her courage, facing down armed soldiers who threatened to disrupt her rallies.

As secretary general of a newly formed National League for Democracy, she described her political philosophy as a continuation of her father's hopes for a democratic, progressive Burma, at peace with its ethnic minorities and its history.

She portrayed herself and the League as an alternative to Mr. Ne Win's distortion of her father's legacy. But when she began to criticize Mr. Ne Win directly, she was put under house arrest, disqualified from running in any election and kept incommunicado.

Despite the arrest and disqualification of most of the leadership of the National League for Democracy, it won nearly 82 percent of the seats at stake in elections finally held in late May 1990. Mrs. Aung San Suu Kyi was the party's central, silent symbol.

Startled, the military regime effectively repudiated the results. It set extremely complicated conditions, including another round of elections.

Her trademark short jacket and Kachin longyi, or sarong, have become chic fashion statements in a country where overtly political ones are dangerous. Many Burmese wear miniature pins bearing her photograph, and young people, especially in the countryside, often wear T-shirts showing the symbol of her party, a peasant's hat. 'For My Father'

"I'm doing this for my father," she said in the 1988 interview. "I'm quite happy that they see me as my father's daughter. My only concern is that I prove worthy of him."

In an essay she wrote to be included in a volume published in honor of her father, Mrs. Aung San Suu Kyi gives readers a glimpse of the mettle that has sustained her. "Fearlessness may be a gift," she wrote, "but perhaps more precious is the courage acquired through endeavor, courage that comes from cultivating the habit of refusing to let fear dictate one's actions, courage that could be described as 'grace under pressure' -- grace renewed repeatedly in the face of harsh, unremitting pressure."

Before they married, Mrs. Aung San Suu Kyi told her husband that her name meant, "A Bright Collection of Strange Victories." To someone who was tending her family in an academic town only four years ago, the Nobel Peace Prize is a significant addition to that collection, but it is likely to bring little pleasure to her unless it helps to shorten the suffering of ordinary Burmese.


The Puppet Master of Burma
By Robert Horn

Ne Win made his nation what it is today: poor, paranoid and oppressed

AP: Number One: Ne Win's iron-fisted rule kept Bruma intact and independent—at the people's expense

Even upon the news of his death, few people in Burma dared speak Ne Win's name. On the streets of the crumbling capital of Rangoon, word of his passing at the age of 91 circulated in whispers. "The Old Man,'' "the Puppet Master,'' or simply "No. 1'' was finally gone. The ruling generals who keep the country under lock and key—the very men Ne Win nurtured and promoted to power—offered no comment and failed to attend his hastily arranged funeral. Ne Win, the man who brought Burma back from the brink of disintegration only to preside over its ruin, died friendless, though history will hardly forget him. "He was the most important and influential figure in Burma since its independence,'' says Professor David Steinberg of Georgetown University. "But he was a disaster for his country."

Ruthless, licentious and seemingly on the cusp of madness, Ne Win ruled the country from 1962 to 1988, wielding absolute power brutally, and sometimes bizarrely. Even after stepping down, his choke hold on the national psyche remained so unshakable that many Burmese believed nothing could change—not military rule, not the repression of democratic icon Aung San Suu Kyi and ethnic minorities, nor the country's ceaseless and abject poverty—until he no longer walked the earth. Yet when he finally expired, his passing seemed to portend little for long-suffering Burma. That's because Ne Win, in terms of influence, actually died last March, when the man who saw plots everywhere during his rule was himself suspected of plotting against the government. His son-in-law and three grandsons were subsequently convicted of treason. One of Asia's cruelest strongmen, feeble and broken, died while under house arrest.

Ne Win was a child of mixed Chinese-Burmese descent, the son of a tax surveyor and small businesswoman, although in his heyday he would sometimes dress as a Burmese king. The Japanese trained him to fight the British colonizers, and he chose to keep his nom de guerre, which meant Glorious Sun. (His real name was Shu Maung.) Fellow freedom fighter Aung San, father of Aung San Suu Kyi, became the leader of the young rebels. The two were very different. Aung San was moral, thoughtful and straightforward; Ne Win was cunning, calculating and passionate about drinking, gambling and women. Aung San became Burma's shining hope at the end of World War II, until he was assassinated in July 1947. Then it was Ne Win's turn. He rose to become Commander in Chief of the army and took power in 1962. He then devised his so-called "Burmese Way to Socialism,'' a political doctrine grounded in xenophobia, puritanism and superstition. The country was sealed off to foreigners, businesses were nationalized and most entertainment banned. Burma—once prosperous with abundant timber and gemstones, a literate workforce and booming rice exports—began to rot in tropical isolation.

The people suffered far more than their leader, of course. After he banned horse racing, Ne Win was to be seen wagering at the Ascot races in England. Likewise, while preaching moderation, he married seven times (including an Italian actress and a descendant of the last Burmese royal family). He eschewed public ceremony, and at times was a recluse. Some doubted his mental health. He regularly visited a psychiatrist in Vienna during the 1960s. To disarm his enemies he practiced yedaya chay, a Burmese system of charms and numerology. His belief that nine was an auspicious number, however, led to his demise. In 1987, he removed from circulation much of the nation's money supply to introduce new notes in the denominations of 45 and 90 kyats—because they were divisible by nine—thus wiping out the savings of millions. By March 1988, students were flooding the streets in protest. On July 23, 1988 Ne Win announced he was stepping down. More violence followed, but also elections in 1990, won by Suu Kyi's party. She had boldly told the military: "You don't have to listen to Ne Win.'' She was wrong: she has spent most of the years since 1989 under house arrest.

In his retirement, Ne Win still held sway with Burma's ruling military junta, but that relationship evaporated in March. Some say he drove around Rangoon at night, a haunted figure surveying the capital's empty streets and decrepit colonial buildings. His legacy is poverty, paranoia, fear of the outside world—and a lost half-century that will haunt Burma for many years to come.

IRRAWADDY: Making Revolution Happen
By CHRISTOPHER GUNNESS Monday, September 1, 2003

BBC reporter Christopher Gunness was in Burma during the nationwide 8.8.88 democracy uprising. He conducted clandestine radio interviews with several Burmese students and activists that were broadcast to millions of Burmese. The military government accused the reports of triggering the August 1988 uprising. Fifteen years later, Gunness remains blacklisted from entering Burma and is still considered a top enemy of the junta. The Irrawaddy reminisced with him via email about his reporting experiences from 1988.

Question: When you worked in Burma as a reporter in 1988, did you get the sense that the sporadic student protests early in the year would flare up into a nationwide uprising?
Answer: I was in no doubt at all that Burma was a bomb waiting to explode; the only questions in my mind were, "when and what would be the trigger?" In 1987 there had been sporadic trouble because of the demonetization and the students were clearly aggrieved during the early months of ‘88. I firmly believe Ne Win also felt that huge problems were going to flare up, unless he acted. I’m not suggesting that he was acting without self-interest, but in a pragmatic way, to protect his own interests. I believe he knew there would be major challenges to his rule unless he did something bold—which is exactly what he did, in announcing multi-party democracy and a pluralist economy. He recognized the problem, but like the administrations he spawned, had neither the will, ability, decency or imagination to find a solution.

Q: You interviewed female students who said they were raped in prison but the government later exposed the charges as a total fabrication, and many activists back those claims. Do you still believe the stories of your interviewees? How did it affect your work as a professional reporter?
A: I have no doubt at all that the women I met had been raped. Their body language was unmistakable and having met rape victims, subsequently in the Balkans, there are no doubts in my mind at all. The treatment of these women has also been confirmed subsequently by several unimpeachable sources. As far as government accusations are concerned, nothing the generals say will ever affect my work, except to make me more determined to keep them accountable to world opinion, if not to the people of Burma itself. I have been the subject of frequent vitriolic attacks and I take this as the highest possible compliment. It is a continued sign that my reporting is accurate and that the truth continues irk the Burmese generals and those in East Asian governments who continue to support them.

Q: What frustrations and regrets did you experience working as a journalist covering Burma from Rangoon?
A: The greatest frustration and regret is for my friends in Burma who have suffered so much. And I regret the fact that the international community has done so little to promote change. There has always been a cause of greater interest to the men who really run the world, in Washington, European capitals and in places like Tokyo and Beijing. Iraq, Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, or wherever has always forced Burma off the international agenda. But I think things are changing and since Iraq, toleration for rogue states is diminishing. And while I find the methodology of the hawks in Washington problematic, if their agenda of promoting American liberal values all over the world is followed to its logical conclusion, this can only be of benefit, ultimately to Burma.

Q: Are you still blacklisted from visiting Burma? Have you tried to return? Do you want to? If you could, what would you do?
A: Yes, I am banned. I have had it made clear to me by ambassadors in London that a visa application would not be successful. However, I have been across the border through Thailand on one occasion, but it is very frustrating not being able to go to Rangoon. If I could visit, I would be extremely careful about who I spoke to, as I have little doubt that the military intelligence would arrest anyone talking to me. If I could go, I’d try to report on aspects of Burma that touch peoples’ lives rather than bang on about democracy and human rights. Although human rights are important, I would like to tell some human stories about how people have survived through fifteen years of oppression. The story of modern Burma is a story about the enduring nature of the human spirit. The struggle for democracy is only one aspect of that.

Q: Both dissidents and the regime acknowledge that your reports during the build-up to the uprising played a key role in triggering the public’s outrage. How do you feel now that the name Christopher Gunness has become part of the 8.8.88 legend? What was your role as a reporter?
A: The truth is that I feel very embarrassed for several reasons. Firstly, I think it is wrong. People were already outraged, not by my reporting, but by what the government was doing. To suggest that what outraged over forty million people was the reportage of a very inexperienced BBC reporter is to miss the point about what was happening and to diminish the role of the Burmese people in those events. The Burmese people themselves rose up. They are the true heroes of 1988. All I did was report on it. Secondly, to overplay my role in the ’88 events is to play into the hands of the generals. It is all too easy for a corrupt, inefficient and greedy government to blame a single reporter. It suggests that the problem is not them, but a foreigner—a classic, but crass attempt to find an external scapegoat. In addition, it subtly plays on old fears and memories in East Asia about British colonialism. What I did was not neo-colonial, however much the government would like to believe that the BBC has a specific agenda in Burma. It does not. It is my role as a reporter and the BBC’s role as an international broadcaster, to hold a mirror up to Burma. If the generals don’t like what they see, they have only themselves to blame.

Q: What is your assessment of the current situation in Burma? Do you see any parallels with 1988? A: When a place is an information black hole, it is almost impossible to say anything meaningful about it. How can one assess the situation in Burma, when the government controls information so tightly and where the opposition isn’t free to operate and talk to journalists? But I do think the situation is different now. In ‘88 there was a genuine question mark over the decency of the army and about whether the army would bow to the overwhelming will of the people who it served. That question mark was dramatically removed when in September ‘88, the army showed that it was prepared to slaughter thousands of people, including unarmed women and children. And today, that remains the reality. So I think it unlikely that there could be a popular uprising like 1988. But on the positive side, I think the international climate is changing. US led action in Iraq and Afghanistan does serve notice to tyrants everywhere that they could be next. And once the argument shifted away from weapons of mass destruction to the human rights record of Saddam Hussein, it was easier to hope that those who violate international humanitarian law, like the generals in Rangoon, will be held to account. And who, fifteen years ago that Saddam Hussein would be deposed by America and Britain.

Q: In commemoration of the 15th anniversary of 8.8.88. can you share some of your memories of Burma’s struggle for democracy?
A: I remember the kindness and bravery of the Burmese—those who contacted me clandestinely and, in spite of the all pervasive military intelligence, risked their own lives to help me. And of course I remember my Burmese friends who have suffered and died.

Q: Do you have any words for the people of Burma?
A: That’s a bit grand, isn’t it? But if I have a message at all, it is that no suffering is ever in vain. Looking back through history, even the mightiest of empires, with their lofty values and noble institutions, come to an end. And the Burmese regime is anything but mighty and lofty. It is bankrupt, literally and intellectually. The other thing I would want to stress is that though it must often feel horribly isolated to be Burmese, the outside world is actually looking. People are recording your suffering and the deeds of the Burmese generals and when justice comes, as it inevitably will, the world will be prepared.