The History of Myanmar

By William J. Topich; Keith A. Leitich | Go to book overview

11
Revolutionary Upheaval
and Aborted Democracy,
1988–1990

The most tragic period in modern Burmese history occurred during a time span of 26 months in 1988–1990. In this rather brief period, the hopes and dreams for the modernization and democratization of Burma were brutally crushed by the repressive military junta that controlled the country at the time. A people’s revolution was underway that promised to usher in a new and bright future for the citizens of this impoverished Southeast Asian state. Initially the “year of rage” was to usher in a new era for Burma. Elections, which promised to lead to a new governing structure for Burma, were held, but the resulting change never transpired. Instead Burma became an Orwellian nightmare of pain, suffering, and repression.


THE SPARK: TEASHOP UPHEAVAL

Disillusionment against the regime increased with the decision in September 1987 to demonetize 25, 35, and 75 kyat notes. Speculation abounds about the rational for the decision, but astrological advice probably played a significant role. Protests quickly ensued as a significant portion of the population saw their savings disappear in a few short days. Universities were sporadically closed over the coming months.

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