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- September 01, 2023
“The Junta- organized Rakhine State Day dismissed as a public relations ploy”
Interview with U Phay Than a veteran Rakhine politician
December 14, 2022. (Narinjara)
The coup regime has deliberately targeted the Rakhine people during 4-months of war with the Arakan Army (AA), resulting in the death of nearly 40 civilians, the injury of many more, and the destruction of large numbers of homes.
Junta troops murdered 10 villagers in Sin Inn Gyi village of Ponnagyun township, and 13 Mro ethnics were killed when artillery fired into Jeit Chaung village in northern Maungdaw township.
There were also deaths due to shelling by the Military Council in other villages.
Transportation networks in Rakhine state were blocked, and importation of food, medicine and fuel were cut off as well. Human right violations against Rakhine public by the Myanmar military were rampant.
The junta that has committed a brutal suppression and killing of the Rakhine people, is now organizing a Rakhine State- Day celebrations in Sittwe in an attempt influence public opinion.
Narinjara contacted Myebon Township Pyithu Hluttaw (House of Representatives) Former member U Phay Than, a veteran Rakhine politician, for his views on the staging of this event
Narinjara : After the ceasefire, fake celebrations for the 48th Rakhine State Day organized by the Military Council, were held in all the townships of Rakhine state. What is your opinion of these celebrations?
U Phay Than - In my opinion, the current Arakan State Day celebration is nothing more than words written on a bit of paper. It should be considered as “ paper tiger” Rakhine State Day. It is a State Day that has no benefit for the Rakhine people. Rights that a state should enjoy : autonomy, self-determination and resource sharing, does not exist in Rakhine State. So this is a hollow celebration where we have no rights.
So we must not recognize this mockery as a Rakhine State Day. If we accept that, we will only have our rights limited by this State Day. Now the Military Council is organizing funfairs to win over ethnic groups and other indigenous people. This can be considered as a form of deception covered by sweet words. In fact, there is no substance in what they are offering only empty shells.
Narinjara - What do you think about the Rakhine public’s attitude towards State Day?
U Phay Than: A State-Day is about politics. If it is a State Day full of political meaning, we should recognize it. The State Day they set has no intrinsic value Everyone already knows it.
Narinjara: There are also criticisms and rejections among the public on the Rakhine singers who will perform at the Military Council-sponsored State Day celebrations who have agreed to participate. What do you say about their role?
U Phay Than - Singers can be the power of Rakhine State but only when they sing nationalistic songs, do we clap and cheer. But if these singers are happy to accept the prize of servitude awarded to an enslaved people, this is shameful. If they accept this embrace from the regime as an honour, the image and credibility of these singers will also sink in the public’s esteem. It is a shameful thing for the country and the people. That’s why they should think carefully about whether to perform or not at the such events, and whether the public will accept it or not. They should only attend these ceremonies after reflecting carefully on the stain that will linger on their reputation and their life.
Narinjara - The last question is: Do you think the people of Rakhine should participate in the Rakhine State Day being organized by the Military Council?
U Phay Than – Rakhine people won’t be thrilled about these events. Perhaps people will go there because they want to see the singers perform. For sure they won’t get the support they deserve. And these festivities shouldn’t be seen as just simple fun. By participating in these events, people will be accepting and legitimising an Arakan State without basic rights. That is why the people will not recognize these State-Day celebrations. In my opinion even going there just for fun should not be encouraged.