August marks the 30th anniversary of the Burmese student pro-democracy demonstrations that began on “8/8/88”. The U.S. subsequently withdrew its ambassador in protest of the military regime, beginning a hiatus in relations that lasted until 2012.
Frank Huffman, who was Assistant Public Affairs Officer in Rangoon, described the demonstrations in pages 43-44 of his ADST oral history, noting that “More people were killed that day than were killed in Tiananmen Square in Beijing a year later, but for some reason the world didn’t pay much attention.”
Vic Tomseth, then Director of the Office of Thai and Burma Affairs, wrote about the effects of the military crackdown on the embassy and the bilateral relationship in his ADST account: “…when the military cracked down on the pro-democracy movement in September of 1988, the trauma that the embassy staff experienced was very profound. I like to compare it to what happened in Teheran in February of 1979 when the embassy was attacked by several armed groups with some casualties.”
See also ADST accounts for two Foreign Service stalwarts who passed away recently: Ambassador Princeton Lyman on August 24 and Ambassador Darryl Johnson on June 24.