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Manau festival will go on despite calls to cancel

The chief minister of Kachin State has said the state government will continue to hold its traditional Manau festival despite calls for it to be cancelled from many in the local community.

The Myitkyina-based assembly said it plans to stage celebrations from 5 to 11 January, at the same time marking Kachin State Day.

However, more than 8,000 people have signed a petition asking the chief minister to call off the ceremony due to instability in the region as clashes continue between Burmese government forces and the Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO).

The state Manau Festival Committee met protesters earlier this week when they explained to them the reasons for maintaining the festivities.

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According to Gum Jah Naw, a leading protestor and organiser of the petition; “The committee said they would hold the festival because they had distributed invitation letters, and invited embassy representatives and dignitaries from near and far.”

The celebration of the Kachin State Day and Manau Dance Festival was not promoted by the Union Government in Naypyidaw but only by state authorities, he said.

Officials in Myitkyina were unavailable for comment.

The last time the Manau festival was held in Kachin State was in 2011. It was halted thereafter when a 17-ceasefire ended between government forces and the KIO.

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