By the year 1988, political, social and economic life in Burma was under the repressive military rule of the Burma Socialist Program Party (BSPP), headed by General Ne Win. Since the military coup in 1962, the Burmese had been subjected to extreme socioeconomic isolation and heavy state control that extended from the media and universities to social events and monasteries. Although citizens, and in particular students, protested throughout the 60’s, violent repression was enough to cease all opposition until 1987 when unrest began to stir once again within the Burmese population.
The massive South Korean nonviolent campaign against the tradition of authoritarian regimes happened only seven years after the notorious Kwangju Massacre of 1980—governmental mass violence that was intended to shut down completely the movements for social justice.
From 1980 to 1983 the government tried to “cleanse” the society of activists, purging or arresting thousands of public officials, politicians, professors, teachers, pastors, journalists, and students. Activists not arrested went quiet or continued their activities in low profile or secretive ways.