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Burma Friday, 14 August, 1998, 15:20 GMT 16:20 UK
Eyewitness: 'I still remember the sound of gunfire'
Memories of Burma's democracy protest
Aye Chang Naing was a student in Burma in 1988 and took part in the demonstrations ten years ago. After the military crackdown he was forced to flee the country and now lives in Norway where he is the news editor for the Voice of Democratic Burma radio service.

These are his memories of those events:

It was first frustration, pain and anger that burst into explosion, then there were hopes and dreams and finally, we were left with permanent scars.

I still vividly remember the sound of gun fire, people shouting for help, smoke from the crematorium chimney and the swearing of evil men during the summer of 1988 that claimed the lives of thousands of peaceful demonstrators.

I was a final year dentistry student.

March 1988: students take to the streets
March 1988: students take to the streets
In March, the students from Rangoon University staged the first demonstration inside the campus. I was there.

'Beaten to death'

I went back to my college to inform my colleagues. When I returned, I saw hundreds of soldiers surrounding the campus and I saw students running away and crying.

Around 100 students were beaten to death or drowned in the lake that afternoon. I felt great pain and anger.

The government may not feel the pain that stays inside the mind of the students but everybody knew that once the universities were reopened, the students would be there to stage another anti-government demonstration.

Two days after the universities were reopened, there were widespread demonstrations at various universities and campuses throughout Rangoon.

A wounded demonstrator is carried off after troops open fire
A wounded demonstrator is carried off after troops open fire
'Brutally crushed'

It lasted for little more than two weeks and it was brutally crushed.

There was more frustration, more pain and more anger.

It was 8th August 1988 that the frustration exploded in millions of Burmese throughout the country.

The killings, shootings and beatings could not really help the military to end the demonstrations any longer.

Perhaps thousands were killed during those few days but it did not matter any more - the most important thing was to get rid of the government.

Thousands were killed in the military crackdown
Thousands were killed in the military crackdown
'Hopes and dreams were dashed'

There was joy and hope once the troops withdrew from the streets. People from all walks of life demonstrated, demanding an end to 26-years of one party military rule.

In September 1988, these hopes and dreams were dashed. Thousands of army trucks and tanks rolled into the cities and towns.

The sound of gunfire day and night made it seem like the country was in the midst of civil war.

Burma today:
Burma today: "love your motherland, respect the law"
Hospitals were filled with dead bodies and injured demonstrators. Smoke came out from chimneys at the city crematoriums almost continuously. That left permanent scars among many citizens of Burma.

I left a note to my parents, saying that I'll be gone for few months.

Then I left my home immediately.

From Rangoon to Thailand, it took me about two weeks: first by bus, by foot, then by boat and then by bus again.

I arrived in Thailand in September. It was ten years ago.

Like most students who left from Burma at that time, I did not think I would be in exile for ten years but the memory of 1988 is still like something that happened yesterday.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC News
The military turn their guns on the demonstrators, Rangoon 1988
BBC News
Aung San Suu Kyi in Rangoon, August 8, 1988: "it would be vrey foolish of the government if they were to try and crack down"
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