State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi to Attend Contested Kachin State Day Celebration

State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi will reportedly attend the 72nd Kachin State Day celebration this week after the event recently came under fire for unwelcome government interference.

Known in the Kachin language as ‘Jinghpaw Mungdaw Nhtoi,’ the state government—which is organizing the celebration—had planned to refer to the event in the Burmese language instead, causing Kachin people to protest what they saw as the Burmanization of the occasion.

The protest was held in front of the Shatapru Ward manau grounds in Myitkyina on January 7.

The Kachin Peace-talk Creation Group (PCG) negotiated with the protesters and officials, and it was agreed that the Kachin name would continue to be used.

“I told the protestors to use ‘Kachin State Day’ and ‘Jinghpaw Mungdaw Nhtoi’ in celebration of Kachin State Day in 2020. The protestors agreed with it. They stopped their demonstration,” PCG’s Duwa Lamai Gum Ja told KNG, adding, “One day, we will hold a public meeting to choose the name for this celebration day.”

The opening ceremony of the day will be held on Thursday, and the manau dance will be performed on Friday, commemorating the first celebration held on January 10, 1948.

Hpare Hkaw Luk, the general secretary of Kachin Culture Association—or Wunpawng Htunghking Hpung Ginjaw in Jinghpaw language—told KNG that the state government was “managing everything” for the event, and that his organization would help however they were needed and did not understand why the protest had been occurring.

Aung San Suu Kyi attended the 71st Kachin State Day in 2019. Also present was Maj-Gen Tay Za, head of the Burma Army’s Northern Command, Kachin State’s chief minister and other government officials.

In a speech she read at the event, the State Counsellor said that changes in Kachin State could be “evident within a year after internal fires have been quenched.”

Fighting between the Kachin Independence Army and the Burma Army has already been reported in the first days of 2020.


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