Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Ethnic Kachins banned from having cultural symbols in their state in Burma

by KNG

In a fresh repressive measure the Burmese military junta has banned Kachins, an ethnic nationality, from constructing its cultural symbols – the "Manau Pole and Manau House" in their State, said Kachin cultural leaders.

In Bhamo, the second largest city in Kachin State, the ban comes in the way of construction of the cultural Manau Pole and House on the 13-acre wide Bhamo (also called Manmaw in Kachin) Kachin Literature and Culture compound (BKLC) in Aung Ta village in Two Miles. It was bought from the Bhamo Zonal Kachin Baptist Church in 1996, BKLC committee members said.

Maj-Gen Soe Win, commander of Northern Regional Command (Ma Pa Kha) and the junta's most powerful man in Kachin State thrice rejected the official request for permission to construct the Manau Pole and House this year by the BKLC committee, a committee member told KNG today.

Last July, some committee members met commander Maj-Gen Soe Win in the Kachin State's capital Myitkyina in its latest effort. However the commander rejected their request saying "Looking at genuine peace in Kachin State, the construction of Bhamo Kachin Manau Pole and House was banned," said committee members.

Earlier, the military authorities of Kachin State had twice rejected BKLC's letters to the junta's Bhamo District Administrative Office, called Bhamo District Peace and Development Council (or Kha-Ya-Ka) on March 31 and Kachin State Administrative Office, called Kachin State Peace and Development Council (or Pa-Ya-Ka) on May 19, according to the BKLC committee.

Committee members said, both rejection letters came up with the same reasons ---- first, the Kachins already have the cultural venue with Manau Pole and House in Myitkyina indicating "Kachin Traditional Manau Park" in Shatapru quarter in the town, which was constructed in early 2002. Secondly, there are different ethnic nationalities in Bhamo and constructing Kachin traditional symbols may harm unity among them because the Kachin Manau Pole and House represent ethnic Kachins, alone.

BKLC committee members disagreed with Commander Soe Win's rejection notes. They believe that the construction of the Kachin cultural Manau Pole and House will not harm the ethnic unity in Bhamo and Kachins have to build their cultural symbols in every Kachin village, said committee members and Kachin cultural leaders.

On June 22, five BKLC committee members of a total of 40 members were made to forcibly sign in the Bhamo District Administrative Office (Kha-Ya-Ka) to abandon construction of Kachin cultural buildings by the Kha-Ya-Ka chairman Col. Khin Maung Myint, said committee members.

According to Article 22 and 27 of the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights, everyone has the right to show, develop and protect their culture and literature.

There are Kachins (also spelled Jinghpaw in Kachin language or Jingpho-su in China and Singpho in India) in three of Burma's neighboring countries like China, India and Thailand and they are authorized to build their cultural symbols - Manau Pole and House.

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