Thein Sein attends Manaw Festival in Myitkyina

President Thein Sein arrives at the Manaw Festival in Myitkyina (Photo - Aung Thu Tun/EMG)

MYITKYINA – President Thein Sein and other participants in the peace talks attended the 67th anniversary of the Kachin State Day yesterday and the president urged the public to participation in the peace processes. He made the remarks during a meeting with Kachin leaders at Manaw House.

This is his second official visit to Kachin State after his first in March 2004. The Border Affairs Minister Lt-Gen Thet Naing Win, Lt-Gen Myint Soe and other ministers, including Aung Min and Soe Thein, accompanied him. They departed after watching the Manaw dance for an hour. Thein Sein is the first president to visit the Kachin State since Sao Shwe Thaik in 1948.

Thein Sein said: "I'm very happy to attend the 67th anniversary of the Kachin State Day and the Manaw Festival. In the past, electricity and transport were very difficult in the Kachin State, but now you can see that nearly everyone has a mobile phone. Electricity can be used to receive information and develop small and medium-sized enterprises. 

“Peace is the desire of 51 million people. Our government has taken the desires and needs of the public as our duty to carry out peace. Peace is within our reach now. The government alone cannot carry out peace. Our desire for peace will only be fulfilled if everyone will help in carrying it out. I expect the ceasefire agreement to be signed soon. I urge all our national brethren to help in all the peace processes in order to have regional development and the rule of law and also for everyone to be able to travel across the country without any discrimination between the hills and plains.”

After visiting the Manaw grounds, Thein Sein paid homage to the chief abbot of the Wintho monastery and met priests from the Kachin Baptist Convention (KBC), urging them to participate in the peace process. 

The first Kachin Manaw Festival ceremony was held on January 10, 1948, and was attended by President Sao Shwe Thaik. After the 1962 military coup it was not held at a state-level again until 2001. 

Kachin duwas or chiefs have held many types of Manaw Festival to show wealth, celebrate victory in a war or in memory of elders. This year's festival aimed to preserve traditional culture and heritage and unite all the Kachin peoples in the state.

Kachin comprises six ethnic tribes: Jinghpaw, Lisu, Rawang, Lachid, Zaiwa and Lhaovo and all of them participated in the festival.