Mon State Government Backs Off Request to Participate in Mon National Day


Mon State Government Backs Off Request to Participate in Mon National Day

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Burma’s Mon State Government told ethnic Mon leaders at a meeting in Moulmein Thursday that they will not seek to participate in Mon National Day, the 66th anniversary of the ethnic celebration, on February 26, according to Mon leaders.

A week after proposing to participate in the Mon National Day celebration, the Mon State Government has changed their decision after facing criticism from ethnic Mon leaders who said that even though the State Government may understand Mon affairs, it should let only ethnic Mon citizens participate and not use its political power to dominate Mon State as Burma undergoes democratic reforms.

Nai Tin Aung, the chairman of the Mon National Day Working Committee, told Kaowao that Ohn Myint, the Chief Minister of Mon State, will attend the Mon National Day event to be held in Moulmein but the State Government has rescinded their proposal and will not take a leading role in the celebration.

“We welcome him [OhnMyint] to attend the ceremony and are happy this he is going to come,” said Nai Tin Aung.

Min New Soe, an ethnic Mon and minister from the State Government, met five members of the Mon National Working Day Committee  in Moulmein and told them about his government’s decision to withdraw from participating in Mon National Day.

The Burmese government has never participated in Mon National Day even though the ethnic Mon have hosted the celebration for the last 65 years. Moreover, the Burmese government has routinely threatened those who lead the ethnic celebration because they don’t want Mon people to participate in political movements.

Reflecting the ongoing change towards freedom and expression throughout Burma, the Mon State Government requested to participate in this year’s celebration, which ethnic Mon leaders were not happy about. They worried that the government wants to dominate Mon affairs by participating in cultural affairs and taking community roles from ethnic Mon leaders.

The 66th Mon National Day will be held on February 26 in Mon communities across the globe. The Mon community in Burma will hold the event in numerous townships across the country while the Mon National Day Working Committee will hold their main celebration in Paung Township, where different leaders form the Mon community will gather.

Mon leaders have asked multiple generations of the Burmese Government to recognize their ethnic national day as a public holiday, only to have this request continually neglected. The only ethnic national day recognized as a public holiday by the Burmese Government is Karen National Day.

According to Nai Tin Aung, it is sad to not have Mon National Day recognized as a public holiday even though Mon is a recognized ethnicity and Mon State is a recognized ethnic state in Burma.

There are approximately 3 million ethnic Mon living in the southern part of Burma and Mon National Day has been celebrated yearly throughout every township in Mon State. The ethnic celebration offers Mon leaders the opportunity to discuss ethnic politics and Mon history and champion Mon identification and unification. The original Mon Kingdom was influential and powerful in Southeast Asia but has become smaller and weaker today, which has increased the importance of Mon National Day as a time to celebrate Mon heritage and the Mon people’s fight for greater rights.



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