Mon residents of Ye Township unhappy over the removal of a billboard for Mon Revolution Day

August 29, 2018

HURFOM: Mon residents in Ye Township are unhappy over the removal of a billboard erected in Ye Town to welcome the 71st Mon Revolution Day which was held on August 26th 2018. Two billboards with the slogan of “Revolution for Freedom” were installed in both Ye and Mudon townships of Mon State. However, after pressure from the Mon State government to remove the slogan, the Ye Township billboard was taking down.

We’ve used slogans with similar meanings every year. We used the word ‘Revolution’ to motivate the mood of the people. It is not to encourage rebellion or riot. They, the [Mon State] government, have also organized their Martyr’s Day freely, so we must also have the right to organize our Martyr’s Day [Mon Revolution Day] freely. There must be fairness and justice. Removing the slogan or the billboard is oppressing the ethnic people. We can’t accept this oppression,” said activist Monk Aot Jae.

On August 18th at the Ye Township General Administration Department, the Mon State Minister of the Ministry of Security and Border Affairs, Colonel Win Nyne Oo, said the New Mon State Party (NMSP) had signed the National Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) and is involved in the peace process, so that it was not appropriate to use the word ‘revolution’ on the billboard.

What we are doing is not rebellion against [the government] and not encouraging people to conduct an uprising. Not only have Burmese [Bamar] people fought for the independence of this country. We, the Mon people, were also heavily involved in the fight for independence. Every leader has tried so hard, and now we have signed the NCA. They are revolutionary leaders and the day we honor them has become Revolution Day. We aren’t crazy and violent. This is just the usage of Mon literature,” said Nai Myint Tun, the chairperson of the committee organizing the Mon Revolution Day in Ye Township.

The organizing committee was informed by the Burma Army that the word ‘revolution’ could lead to a riot. Thus, Military Operation Command #19 called Nai Myint Tun and the Ye GAD and forced them to remove the billboard. However, they denied the order.

On August 21st, the Ye Township GAD called Nai Myint Tun three times and threatened to charge them under Municipal Law if they refused to remove the billboard. Therefore, the organizing committee removed the billboard at 09:00 pm on that day.

Mon Revolution Day is a special day for us and we have tried to organize an event. But our expectations have not been met as planned, as we have had to remove our billboard. We’re unhappy. Now people have been worrying about whether the event should take place or not,” said young activist Min Nay Lin Tun.

The organizing committee decided to move the event to Do Moke Brat, a religious site in Sone Nathar village, Ye Township.

Ethnic rights are just on paper. There is nearly no ethnic rights in reality,” said Mehm Bnyair Hongsar, another member of the organizing committee.

Mon State Chief Minister Dr. Aye Zan met and discussed the slogan issue with officials from the NMSP and asked them if they would lead the event.

Only civilians [and civil society] have organized the event. The NMSP hasn’t played a leading role in organizing it. The way we [NMSP] would organize the event and the way the people do are different. When it was sure that we were not involved in organizing the event, the Chief Minister requested us to persuade the people to remove the word [rvolution] from the billboard. We replied we would try our best, but we couldn’t promise anything,” said Nai Hongsar Bon Khine, a member of the NMSP Central Executive Committee.

Nai Hongsar Bon Khine also advised that every party should avoid using controversial words in order to avoid misunderstandings between each other.

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