Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Traditional Musician Missing After Arrest

Sittwe (Narinjara): A traditional drummer in Sittwe, the capital of Arakan State, has gone missing after being arrested by police on 11 August, 2009, said a relative.

"A police team raided U Kyaw Zan Maung's house on the night of 11 August and arrested U Tun Shwe. Since then, U Tun Shwe has been missing," he said.

A police team raided U Kyaw Zan Maung's house on the pretense that his drumming team went to Bangladesh illegally to teach drumming among the Arakanese community there.

After the raid, the police brought U Tun Shwe, who is a pupil of U Kyaw Zan Maung, to an unknown place for interrogation.

The high authority has since placed four police officers in front of U Kyaw Zan Maung's home to watch him and his drumming team's activities closely.

U Kyaw Zan Maung is a prominent drummer in Arakan State and his team is known as Saidra Tee Wai. They typically perform at Arakanese traditional festivals.

According to a local source, their are nearly 300 members on the Saidra Tee Wai drum team who are active in Sittwe against the military government.

A politician, who asked to remain anonymous, said that the authority claimed the unauthorized travel to Bangladesh was the reason for the raid on U Kyaw Zan Maung's house, but the truth is that the government is afraid the drum team might lead a demonstration in Sittwe.

Because of that fear, the police raided the drum leader’s home and arrested his student U Tun Shwe in order to crack down on them.

U Kyaw Zan Maung also served five years in prison before 2000 because his drum team had played and performed funeral music during a welcome ceremony for former Prime Minister General Khin Nyunt at Sittwe airport in 1994. At the time of the incident, Khin Nyunt was Secretary One of the SPDC.

Soon after the ceremony, U Kyaw Zan Maung was caught by the military authority and sentenced to five years in prison for the performance.

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