To march in the 70th anniversary of Mon Revolution Day on August 7, youth had to promise the Tatmadaw that they would not carry arms, according to local administrator.
The commemorative event sparked tensions between the New Mon State Party and the Tatmadaw. The NMSP holds a bilateral ceasefire, but has not signed the nationwide ceasefire agreement.
The Tatmadaw initially attempted to pressure the NMSP officials to limit celebrations to the ethnic armed group’s headquarters, instead of holding five-planned marches in areas under their control. A compromise appears to have been struck, however.
On the day of the anniversary, the Tatmadaw’s 587th Light Infantry Battalion had the youth marchers come to the base and sign a pledge to parade without arms, according to Nai Tun Wai, an administrator of Taung Bon Village.
Members of the Tatmadaw then attended the parade, leading to confusion among the audience, and concern that the ceremony would be interrupted.
“We had already submitted the entire program for the ceremony to the Lamaing Myoma Police Station. We already wrote that a military parade would be held. But [the Tatmadaw battalion] came just before the ceremony was held. We still held the ceremony as scheduled,” said Min Zabu Yaw, a member of the organizing committee.
Around 300 local residents, and 70 members of the NMSP’s drum and bugle corps participated in the Ye township parade. Another 700 Mon youth marched with the drum and bugle corps to the tombs of Mon national leaders during the Mon Revolution Day ceremonies held in Thanbyuzayat, Mudon, and Paung townships.
“[The Tatmadaw] didn’t come to stop the youths from holding the military parade. They were coming to inspect whether or not they were holding the military parade with arms,” said Nai Tun Wai, adding that he was one of the signatories to the pledge that arms would not be involved in the anniversary event.
Mon Revolution Day commemorates a group of Mon youth who led a revolt against the government on the full moon day of Wagaung in 1948.