Narinjara news


Sittwe, 11 April 02:
With the traditional Arakanese New Year’s Eve knocking at the door, the SPDC military regime have started collecting illegal tolls from all the business farms in Arakan (Rakhine) State in the western part of Burma, according to our correspondent.

The traditional Rakhine New Year festivities will start from April 13 as usual. Last year because of the Buddhist Muslim race riots there were no Thaung-gran or New Year’s festivities in Sittwe, the capital of the state. This year the junta have ordered eighteen townships, including Paletwa township of western Chin State, to participate in a grand Maha Thaung-gran celebration to be held in Sittwe.

The Sittwe Township Peace and Development Council has already issued orders to each of the owners of saw mills in the township to give five hundred cubic feet of sawn timber for erecting stages in the town for celebrating the Thaung-gran, popularly known as Water Festival. The poor owners of saw mills who cannot pay the illegal tolls are now facing closure of their saw mills and legal actions for no fault of their own if they cannot give the said timber as demanded by the Burmese junta.

All the government employees and traders have been ordered to pay illegal tolls for collecting the money needed to celebrate the festival. The government departments in the township have been issued orders for compulsory participation in the grand festivities at their own cost.

This year the junta have directed all of their administrative councils to hold the Rakhine Maha Thaungran, even in the hard-to-reach inaccessible areas across the state. According to a higher government official, this year the measure to hold the festivities in a grand gala ceremony has been taken to divert people’s attention from the suspicious activities going on in Rangoon between the junta and their old man, Ne Win and his cohorts. The general populace in Arakan State have no interest in the goings-on in Rangoon, except that the prices of essentials have shot up sharply just after the incident.

The Rakhine Thaung-gran is an annual affair with much festivities and traditional ceremonies unlike those in Burma Proper or even Thailand. Ever since the military juntas have been in the helm of Burma, every year the celebration of the festival have been discouraged except for the celebration of the Burmese traditional Thaung-gran (Thingyan in Burmese), which the successive juntas have painstakingly urged the general Arakanese people to hold. #