MRAUK-U : Literature talks that had already been arranged to be held in other Rakhine townships were said to have been cancelled after the conflict broken out in Mrauk-U on 16th January 2018, according to writers who were invited to talk at the occasions.

7 civilians are dead and 12 others were injured by police gunfire during a mass protest which occurred in Mrauk-U due to a sudden ban on the literature talk which had been arranged at the Mrauk-U royal palace site. Officials concerned claimed that a permit had been issued only for 15th January.

The organizers that said that after the Mrauk-U conflict, the government announced that requests for literature talk permits should be submitted to the respective Township administration offices, however, the talks arranged in other townships were cancelled considering the time it would take to get permits.

Pan Thu Khin, a writer to join the talks has said that literature talks arranged to be held after the Mrauk-U conflict were cancelled because the permits had not been granted.

“It is something to question - if the situation has reached its worst point - as a ban on all talks is equally imposed.  Does conformity with laws mean a temporary ban or a permanent ban? It is something to consider if, their legal procedure is correct. Well, in a state like Rakhine, there are no good schools and no effective learning, let alone a library. So it is not easy to develop a habit of reading. So, I just sense that a ban on such talks which means ‘reading through hearing’, is very much like pushing the State into a worst case scenario” said she.

The writer Ba Gyi Kyaw (Sitetway) also affirmed that literature talks were a source of knowledge for people from rural areas, whose literacy and thereby knowledge were highly limited.

Literature talks in Rakhine State were widely held after 2012 and over 100 talks were generally held each year. Currently, Pyithu Hluttaw MP Dr. Aye Maung and the writer Wai Hun Aung, who spoke at the literature talk, which took place on the annual commemoration of the fall of the ancient Rakhine kingdom, are being charged under state treason law.

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