Township forces teachers to perform Thingyan dance, state govt steps in

Teachers in Chin State practice a Thingyan dance. Photo: Zalen Thuthang

The education department in Chin State’s Matupi Township issued a directive in March requiring all of its staff members, including teachers, to organize and perform a Thingyan dance, or else face disciplinary action.

The teachers were also required to attend practice sessions for five hours every day in the weeks leading up to the Thingyan festival. According to a Facebook post by the Chin news site Zalen Thuthang, the requirement for civil servants to participate in Thingyan festivities is common, even in Christian-majority Chin State.

A collective Chin political parties and civil society groups submitted a letter to the Chin State government on April 2, pointing out that both Myanmar’s constitution and its membership in the International Labor Organization prohibit forced labor.

Zalen Thuthang writes that the Chin State government responded by banning township departments from forcing their staff to participate in Thingyan festivities, starting this year.

Though the dispute appears to be over, it has stoked the frustrations of Myanmar citizens who feel marginalized by the country’s Bamar-Buddhist majority.

It’s because of things like this that we shouldn’t associate with the Bamar. I’ve been saying that we need to separate from them. I like it. Please do more things like this. This is how we will become free.
I don’t think there are any laws that say you can punish people who refuse to dance at Thingyan.
Is this democracy?… Extremist shitbag Buddhists… But force can never change the race, religion, and hearts of people.

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