Funeral charities ordered to keep vehicles at cemetery

Feb 26, 2009 (DVB), Funeral charities in Rangoon division, including the Free Funeral Service Society, have been told to park their vehicles at Yeway cemetery during the night, according to an order issued by the authorities.

The order, issued on 8 February, states that all funerary vehicles used by funeral services of all religions must be kept overnight at Yeway cemetery as of 28 February.

FFSS patron and former actor Kyaw Thu said funeral charities could face legal action if they did not comply with the order.

"Rangoon municipal office summoned all religious groups in Rangoon and told us to keep the cars in respective cemeteries," Kyaw Thu said.

"If we don’t, we will be prosecuted."

The order was issued on the basis of a 1920 colonial law. Kyaw Thu has asked Rangoon municipal authorities to help him solve the problems caused by the order but has received no response from them.

Apart from FFSS, there are at least six funeral services including Muslim, Hindu and Christian services that have been giving free help to bereaved people.

Kyaw Thu said that FFSS had 16 funerary vehicles, some of which were worth millions of kyat.

Keeping the cars in the cemetery overnight as ordered would put a stop to the activities of the FFSS, Kyaw Thu insisted.

"We can’t just park our cars in the alleys at Yeway as some of them are quite expensive," Kyaw Thu said.

"We bought them with money from donors. The cars need to have covers and security," he said.

"We have decided to carry on as before."

Christian and Muslim funerary vehicles which have been parking at churches and mosques in local townships are also worried about keeping them in Yeway cemetery.

"If the cars are kept in Yeway cemetery, the drivers will face problems," a Muslim funeral official said.

"There is no [proper building to park the cars] yet. We are still discussing it."

A local Hindu funeral organisation which already keeps its five funerary vehicles at the cemetery said it had no problems with the new regulation.

Reporting by Aye Nai

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