The Kachin Traditional Literature and Culture Committee declined an invitation from government authorities to participate in the 67th Kachin State Day Manau Dance Festival, senior committee member Yaw Sam told the Kachin News Group (KNG).
The government had asked that the group provide 100 people, representing the various Kachin sub groups, to attend in their respective traditional dress.
Yaw Sam said that his organization declined the invitation from the Kachin State government because there are thousands of Kachin refugees suffering and still no peace. “We already replied to them we will not attend the dance festival,” Yaw Sam told Kachin News Group ahead of last weekend’s festival in Myitkyina.
After receiving the invitation the committee sent a letter explaining their reasons for not participating to the Kachin State Chief Minister Lajawn Ngan Seng.
The Kachin state government opted to proceed with the festivities despite the fact that many Kachin people were uncomfortable having a Manau Festival during a time of war in Kachin State.
The Manau organizing committee had arranged for more than 1,500 participants representing all of the Kachin sub-tribes Jinghpaw, Maru (Lawngwaw), Lashi (Lachit), Azi (Zaiwa), Rawang and Lisu says Lahkri La Awng chairman of the committee.
This is the first time that the Manau festivities have been held on a large scale since the outbreak of fighting between the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) and the Burma army in June 2011. The conflict has displaced more than 100,000 people.
The Manau Festival Organizing Committee had informed residents of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps in the Myitkyina area that arrangements would be made to bring them to the Manau Festival. La Rip, a member of the Maina IDP’s camp committee in Waimaw township, said his camp declined the invitation.
“Without specific meaning the Manau Dance Festival should not be held. It only means oppressing us as we (IDPS) are suffering now, they invite us and said we can go any time but we are not going, even if they come and pick us up,” said La Rip.
State government authorities pressured many Myitkyina residents to participate in the Manau. Local officials were instructed to compel at least 50 people from each quarter of Myitkyina to attend the event. Government bureaucrats were also compelled to attend the event.
The Traditional Manau dance was held from 8th to 11th January. Chief Minister Lajawn Ngan Seng gave a speech on 10th January. President Thein Sein also made appearance decked out in Kachin clothes.