Today marks the 21st anniversary of Burma’s Human Rights Day – a student leader named Ko Phone Maw and other students were shot dead on this day in 1988 by the military security forces while they were protesting in front of Rangoon Institute of Technology (RIT) in Rangoon, the capital of Burma. The government’s inability to settle such heinous crime had not only demonstrated the lack of justice in Burma but also had a confrontation between the government and the students, which leads to the nation wide uprising called 8888 uprising to restore democracy and human rights in Burma. Thus, the day the death of the student leader Ko Phone Maw was honored as Burma’s Human Rights Day later.
Before 13th March 1988, People of Burma had suffered several political, economic and social problems of the single-party dictatorship and closed- door economic policy, emerged from the detrimental 1974 Constitution, which was drawn by force. As the constitution was created by the dictator Ne Win, who staged the military coup in 1962 and the main essence of the constitution was designed for the interests of the military generals rather than the people; People of Burma were not happy about the constitution and its consequences. Therefore, the death of the student leader Ko Phone Maw’s event had become a triggering event for People of Burma to bring down the regime government which administered the country by using a detrimental constitution. Due to this people power movement, the constitution being drawn by force became illegitimate. Thus, March 13th is a symbol of democracy and human rights for Burma.
On this occasion, Free Burma Federation and Burma Democratic Concern reaffirms that the very essence of and the principles enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights are persistently being violated by the military regime for several years. Gross Human Rights Violations, including forced displacement, forced labour, attacked by soldiers on civilians, destruction or theft of food supplies, murder, torture, rape and political imprisonment have been widespread in Burma. Freedom of expression and Freedom of Association are non-existence. The right to life, liberty and security for Burmese citizens are denied. People of Burma have been subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention and exile. In Burma, human rights violations are committed on a daily basis by ruling military regime.
Therefore, on this remarkable day, Free Burma Federation and Burma Democratic Cocnern call upon the international community to support the people power movement to restore democracy and human rights in Burma. We also call Overseas Burmese People around the world to join the democratic movement in any capacity that they can participate to strengthen the unity for Democracy and Human Rights in Burma to fight against the military regime. We also urge new generations of students to carry on the duties of predecessors as the role of students have been so significant throughout the history of national struggles. continue