|Ethnic Kachin Manau festival starts amidst Burma junta’s harassment|
|Written by KNG|
|Wednesday, 06 January 2010|
|A week-long Kachin cultural Manau festival kick started yesterday morning in Myitkyina, the capital of Burma’s northern Kachin State, amidst restrictions and harassment by the ruling junta, Manau festival officials told Kachin News Group.
The daily Manau dance programme will begin on January 8 and conclude on January 11.
The Manau festival is being held to commemorate the “62nd anniversary of Kachin State Day” on January 10. Every year after the junta and the Kachin Independence Organization – KIO signed a ceasefire agreement in 1994, the biggest ethnic Kachin cultural Manau dance festival is held on this day.
Traffic policemen enforced strict checks and detentions on unlicensed motorcycles stationed in front at the main entrance of the Manau venue called Kachin National Manau Park in Shatapru quarter in the city coinciding with the time of the inaugural ceremony at 7:30 a.m. local time, said participants.
Dozens of unlicensed motorcycles owned by local sellers and participants were detained by traffic policemen, said local eyewitnesses. Every family in the city uses the cheap Chinese motorcycles as their main local transport, added residents.
Manau festival officials called the act physical disturbance by the Burmese junta of the festival, the highly valued ethnic Kachin Manau festival.
The Kachin-language Manau daily newspaper during the festival could not be published today because the publication was restricted by the regime in Naypyitaw the country’s capital, said Manau newspaper team sources.
The junta sent three media men from the capital to the Manau venue and they stayed in the newspaper office all the time and closely monitored the publication activities, said the staff of Manau newspaper.
A senior reporter of the newspaper told KNG today, “We are ready to publish and distribute the conditions but we cannot publish and distribute to the people in two straight days. Because news, stories, articles and photographs in the newspaper are censored by the special Naypyitaw media agents”.
The three junta media agents are U Tin Win, agent leader based in Naypyitaw, U Khin Maung Kyaw photography specialist based in Naypyitaw and U Ne Linn Way, senior journalist based in Rangoon or Yangon, according to the Manau newspaper team comprising of over 20 casual reporters.
At the same time, they also directly reported the daily Manau festival activities and information to the military officers in Naypyitaw, said Manau security sources.
The Manau newspaper team and festival participants are unhappy over restrictions in publication of the newspaper by the junta, according to the Manau newspaper team and people in the Manau venue.
During last year’s festival, the daily Kachin language Manau newspaper was smoothly published and distributed to the people from the festival start to the end, said Manau officials.
Kachin, one of ethnic minorities in Burma has been systematically oppressed on its culture, language, and religion by successive majority Burman-led governments since the Union of Burma got independence from British rule in January 4, 1948, said Kachin elders and politicians in Myitkyina.
Kachin State was formed on January 10, 1948 six days after the Union of Burma’s independence. However, Kachin people could not rule their state since General Ne Win assumed power in 1962.