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This week in history: August 19-25

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This Week in History provides brief synopses of important historical events whose anniversaries fall this week.

25 years ago: Burmese military regime totters

In response to the continuing mass demonstrations across the country, a civilian, Dr. U Maung Maung, was appointed president on August 19, 1988. The biographer of longtime military strongman Ne Win, Maung Maung was known to be closely aligned with the military government.

Hundreds of thousands continued to demonstrate in major cities across Burma, demanding the resignation of the newly-appointed president—the third in less than a month. In the capital of Rangoon, 200,000 to 300,000 surged through the streets, bringing the city to a standstill. The country’s second largest city, Mandalay, saw a demonstration of 250,000 people—half the city’s population. Transport was shut down as train and bus workers went on strike.

In other major cities, marches of hundreds of thousands occurred, exposing the total inability of the military to contain the massive opposition by means of savage repression, with thousands of protesters shot to death up to that point.

Maung Maung announced plans for a referendum and the release of selected political prisoners, admitting that the regime retained only tenuous control over its own troops, saying soldiers “find it extremely repugnant to confront the people who are their parents.”

He announced that an extraordinary congress of the ruling Burma Socialist Program Party would be convened on September 12 to approve the referendum and pave the way for multiparty elections.
Source link: http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2013/08/19/twih-a19.html

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