A “Miss Ethnic Myanmar” beauty pageant and a campfire dance with a buffalo skull on Tuesday brought an end to a festival celebrating the country’s ethnic minorities, even as the military remains locked in conflict with many groups. The 41 female contestants sashayed across the stage in Yangon in front of thousands, displaying an array of kaleidoscopic costumes, as a singer crooned an old classic, “Welcome to the Golden Land”, in an event aimed at both locals and tourists. M Ja Seng, a 25-year-old from northern Kachin, clinched the crown by stating her desire to show the world that the nation’s ethnic minorities will “march united for many years to come”. This is the vision that Myanmar seeks to present. The festival was organised by business owners with government backing. But for many people overseas, it is impossible to look beyond the Rohingya crisis. Some 740,000 of the persecuted group have been driven out by a bloody army campaign since 2017, with the country insisting they do not belong among its patchwork of 135 officially recognised ethnic minority groups. And it is not just the Rohingya Muslims who have suffered at the hands of the country’s military and some two… Read full this story
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