Kachin Flag Absent From Kachin State Day Commemoration

Monday, January 13, 2020

Ethnic Kachin locals have said they are disappointed that the Kachin flag was not displayed as part of the 72nd Kachin State Day celebrations in Myitkyina on Friday.

The commemoration was held on the Manau grounds in Sitapu ward in the Kachin State capital. Noticeably absent, said Myitkyina resident Kai Ja, was the flag of the Kachin nationals.

“The Kachin national flag always used to be raised on the anniversary of Kachin State Day. This year, no Kachin flag was raised,” she said. “I looked at the flag pole when I arrived at the manau grounds. I didn’t see it. I feel deeply upset about it.”

Households around Myitkyina instead displayed the flag outside their homes to mark the day as an ethnic Kachin event.

Another Myitkyina local, Seng Nu Hkawn, said that there were other differences in how Kachin State Day was celebrated this year compared to previous years, particularly in the lack of representation of the various Kachin groups.

“When I was young, I was really happy to join the Kachin State Day celebration. It was not crowded this year. I feel unhappy. There are six Kachin sub-tribes. Some sub-tribes didn’t join the celebration this year,” Seng Nu Hkawn told NMG.

There had previously been a dispute over the title of the day, whether it should be called the traditional “Jinghpaw Mungdaw Nhtoi” or “Kachin Mungdaw Nhtoi.” As Jinghpaw refers to one of the Kachin sub-groups—the others being Rawang, Lisu, Zaiwa, Lachid and Lawngwo—some suggested that “Kachin” would be more inclusive. In the end, the occasion was officially named in Burmese Kachin State Day and in Kachin language as Jinghpaw Mungdaw Nhtoi. Some groups opted not to attend and join the traditional manau dance.

The Rawang Literature and Culture Association, Lachid Literature and Culture Committee, Lisu Culture and Culture Central Committee, Lawngwo Literature and Culture Central Committee and Zaiwa Literature and Culture Central Committee released a statement on January 8 stating that their representatives would not be attending Kachin State Day festivities.

Meanwhile, State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi attended the celebration in Myitkyina, delivered a speech, and joined the manau dance.

President Win Myint also sent well wishes for the ceremony in a letter that was read out.

Thousands of others joined the Kachin State Day celebration including Union ministers, the Kachin State chief minister, state ministers, government officials, local elders, and ethnic community members.