Arrest Warrant Issued for Another Myanmar Writer

Arrest Warrant Issued for Another Myanmar Writer

With the Rakhine non-fiction writer, Wai Hin Aung (don’t be surprised if you have never heard of him) currently serving 20 years for high treason and the ongoing trials (plural!) and tribulations of the Peacock Generation poetic satire group, comes another writer currently wanted for, well, opening his mouth …

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Can Literature Save Myanmar’s Peace Process?

Can Literature Save Myanmar’s Peace Process?

In late January 2019, the Tatmadaw took control of the remote Naga region headquarters of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Khaplang (NSCN-K), an ethnic armed organisation that has yet to sign the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement. In March, 5 leaders of the NSCN-K were arrested by police in Khamti Township, Sagaing Division after attending a meeting at their liason office, a meeting organised by the Naga Culture Centre Committee to discuss peace in the Naga region … 

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Are Burmese Booksellers in Trouble?

Are Burmese Booksellers in Trouble?

Frontier magazine ran an interesting article on the fate of booksellers at Yangon’s Book Street and book-selling in general the other month.

Book Street began in January 2017 with the support of author and Minister of Information U Pe Myint, to provide an accessible and open air market for readers at the east end of the Secretariat.  It runs until the opening of the monsoon, with sellers charged fees for their stalls … 

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Why Ethnic Literature Matters

Why Ethnic Literature Matters

The other week,  Mon State Chief Minister Dr Aye Zan, speaking in Mawlamyine, touched on an issue that lies at the very heart of the stalled nationwide ceasefire agreement:

… the literature and culture of the ethnic people is very important in our state including the signing of the nationwide ceasefire agreement (NCA) by the New Mon State Party (NMSP). We must strive for our literature to reach the situation before 1962. The culture may also face the same situation. We need to protect the rights of the ethnic people,

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Emerging Ethnic Literature Festivals in Myanmar

Emerging Ethnic Literature Festivals in Myanmar

The 1947 Panglong Conference in Shan State is often viewed, simplistically, as the catalyst for the subsequent decades of civil strife and rebellion in Myanmar.  Promises of equality were made to the ethnic nationality groups, promises which were then broken by successive democratic and military administrations after the assassination of the architect of the conference, Bogyoke Aung San … 

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Myanmar Literature: Burmese or Ethnic?

Myanmar Literature: Burmese or Ethnic?

For the final post of 2017, I thought I would look more generally at the position of ethnic literature and its place in a wider definition of Myanmar Literature.

Though there has been little mention of it the English language press, (for a good blog piece, read Kate Griffin, who attended on behalf of the Writers Centre Norwich) the Yangon Literary Conference 2017 was held between the 13th and 16th December at MCC Hall with bookstalls, poetry recitals and exhibitions displayed by the City Hall from the 8th to the 12th

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Ethnic Literature Finds Support Elsewhere

Ethnic Literature Finds Support Elsewhere

One of the many touted reforms of the Thein Sein administration was the recognition of the right to teach ethnic language and literature.  Commitments were made to incorporate literature lessons into the syllabus with a monthly stipend for the teachers, commitments that were endorsed by the successor NLD government …

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Imprisoned with Books in Myanmar

Imprisoned with Books in Myanmar

So many of the formerly imprisoned writers and publishers I worked with have remarked on the impact the International Centre for the Red Cross made on their lives towards the beginning of the millennium. Those writers imprisoned in the 20th Century were denied the basic right of pen, paper and books, devising creative strategies such as mixing water with brick dust to create ink, and hiding scraps of paper in the cracks of the walls of their cells … 

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Myanmar Literature and Art Copyright Law

Myanmar Literature and Art Copyright Law

One of the unfortunate consequences of decades of military rule in Myanmar is the staggering number of ancient law codes still on the books.  Many of these laws date back to the colonial era and some even to the 19th Century.  A massive task of the transition is the repeal and amendment of these laws that have no place in 21st Century society … 

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Ethnic Literature – From Policy to Action

Ethnic Literature – From Policy to Action

Two articles in the Myanmar press this week highlight the common disconnection between turning policy into action in the country. A Myanmar Times article describes a new push by the Ministry of Education to formalise the positions of teachers of ethnic languages and literatures from informal instructors (paid a poverty wage of 1 dollar a day) to teaching assistants with an increase in salary …

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In Memory of Salai Tin Maung Oo

In Memory of Salai Tin Maung Oo

Last week marked the 41st anniversary of the death of student leader Salai Tin Maung Oo. Though born in Taungoo, Bago Division (or possibly Rakhine State to the West), Salai Tin Maung Oo was ethnic Chin.  As General Secretary of Yangon university based Chin Culture and Literature Committee, he was active, both in his pro-democracy demonstrations and his vision for a unified Chin identity …

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Writing in Burma: A New Year, Old Fears

Writing in Burma: A New Year, Old Fears

I was heading East from Hpa-an, the sluggish capital of Burma’s Karen State, towards a monastery infamous for the alleged body-napping of a dead monk by the Burmese military in the late 1990’s, when i heard of the death of the freelance journalist, Ko Par Gyi.  In the car with me was a former political prisoner and 88 Generation member, eyes fixed to his phone as the ring of each new text message reverberated Burma back to the dark years …

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Article: On Literary Talk Shows in Myanmar

Article: On Literary Talk Shows in Myanmar

‘As a puny winter sun settled over the morning Irrawaddy river, eight men stood up, smoothed their winter coats, brushing off crumbs of cake and errant cheroot ash, and one by one introduced themselves’

My May article for the Diplomat journal on recent forced cancellations of literary events in Myanmar

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