Kayah Literature Festival Called off over Dispute with State Gov’t

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The event was rescheduled after permission was denied the first time, but has now been cancelled completely.


An event to promote indigenous culture in Kayah (Karenni) State has been cancelled because of a dispute between its organizers and the state government over a demand for planning details.

“The Kayah State government wanted to know many detailed things, such as who the organizers are, how many people are expected to attend, and what is its agenda,” said NyuntReh of the Kayah State Literature and Culture Committee, which planned to hold the event.

“We don’t want to hold it now. If we decide to try again, we may go to Taungoo or southern Shan State, because we are not allowed to hold it in Kayah State,” he told Kantarawaddy Times.

According to NyuntReh, the government’s demands obstructed indigenous people’s rights.“We feel so upset. They placed a stone on our running path. It really disturbs our activities,” he said.

The KayahState Literature and Culture Committee originally planned to hold the event in the office of the state government’s ethnic affairs department on June 29, but was denied permission at the time. It was then rescheduled, but has now been called off completely.

The state’s chief minister, El PhoungSho, said that his government is keen to promote andmaintain the literature, culture and customs of ethnic people when he met with ethnic people’s literature and customs committees in Loikaw on July 23.

He also said that he requested that the planned literature exchange event be rescheduled so that he could attend.

“I don’t want to talkabout it anymore. The chiefminister said that he wants to participate in it,”AulayVeir, the chairman of the Kayah Literature and Culture Committee, told Kantarawaddy Times.

AulayVeir also said that indigenous people won’t organize this kind of event in the future.

“Next time, we will let the KayahState government’s ethnic literature and culture department organize it,” he said.Thestate government’s ethnic affairs committee said it is trying to set up meetings between ethnic literature and culture committees and the state’s parliament.

“Currently, we can’t organize it because we are still busy. The chairman of the KayahState parliament is also busy. That’s why we can’t start it,” Thein Aung SehReh, the chairman of the state’s ethnic affairs committee, toldKantarawaddy Times.

According to a local order of the KayahState government, civil society organizations must seek permission to hold an event 15 days before it is scheduled to take place.

Event organizers complain that they are expected to provide many details and that they don’t know if they will receive permission until shortly before the planned date of the event.

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