No OK for NLD’s ‘Anti-Fascist Resistance Day’ Celebration

By Kyaw Phyo Tha 26 March 2015

RANGOON — The Rangoon Division government still has not responded to a request by Burma’s main opposition party to hold a commemoration of Armed Forces Day on Friday in the commercial capital, with permission apparently being withheld over the party’s insistence on calling March 27 “Anti-Fascist Resistance Day.”

Since 1989, Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) has been celebrating the day annually as Anti-Fascist Resistance Day, while the government calls it Tatmadaw (Armed Forces) Day.

Soe Nyunt, who has offered to provide a venue for the event, told The Irrawaddy that Bahan Township authorities had failed to approve organizers’ application to hold the celebration, and had complained that the name used by the NLD for the national holiday was incorrect and inappropriate.

“They didn’t give us a clear answer like ‘yes’ or ‘no’ when we submitted the request letter to them. Instead, they argued that we shouldn’t use the name Anti-Fascist Resistance Day, instead of the official Armed Forces Day,” said the owner of Royal Rose Restaurant in Bahan Township, which regularly provides its space to the NLD and hosts other Rangoon political events.

“When we told them, ‘If you reject our request, please issue an announcement letter,’ they said they couldn’t,” Soe Nyunt added.

The Bahan Township administrative office was not available for comment on Thursday.

The NLD’s patron Tin Oo told The Irrawaddy on Thursday—the eve of Armed Forces Day commemorations—that despite his personal letter to Rangoon’s Chief Minister Myint Swe offering an explanation for why his party is sticking to the unofficial name, no reply had been received.

“They are still silent,” he said.

Both Tin Oo and Soe Nyunt said the party would celebrate the day under the name the NLD has been using for the last 25 years.

“Neither historically nor legally do we see anything wrong with using the name. Our history can prove it,” the party patron said.

“We are not committing a crime. I think they are nervous as the election is getting nearer,” Soe Nyunt said.

Annually, Burma marks March 27 as Armed Forces Day to mark the beginning of resistance to Japanese occupation in 1945, when the Burma Army was led by Suu Kyi’s father Gen. Aung San. Originally, it was celebrated as “Antifascist Resistance Day,” which is why the NLD continues to celebrate the holiday as such.

The Burmese government changed the name to Armed Forces Day in 1955 under then Prime Minister U Nu.