Authorities Demand ‘Permission’ for Aung San Birthday Celebrations

By Yen Saning 11 February 2016

RANGOON — Devoted National League for Democracy (NLD) members have hit a snag in preparations to mark the revered General Aung San’s 101st birthday on Feb. 13, with the party faithful, as well as student union members, reporting that authorities are demanding they obtain official permission.

Khin Maung Myint, an executive committee member of the NLD in Mandalay Division’s Kyaukse Township, said that party members want to hold celebrations on Friday and Saturday—including a public literature talk, a quiz competition for children and a fitness contest—but that the township administration has said they can only do so with official permission.

“We’ve now submitted a permit to host the event,” Khin Maung Myint said, adding that party members were yet to receive any official word.

If permission is not granted, “we will proceed anyway,” he said. “We will have a fundraiser and a free feast at the NLD office on Feb. 13.”

This is the tack that was taken at the Yangon Institute of Economics. While members of the student union had not been cleared to hold an event on Feb. 10 honoring Aung San’s birthday, some 100 students went ahead with their planned festivities, including singing songs, playing games and sharing birthday cake.

As access to a field was obstructed, students had to hold the event in a different space near the institute. The students said they were filmed and photographed by police.

In 2015, the NLD led “a whole year” of celebrations to commemorate the 100th birthday of Burma’s martyred revolutionary.