Music festival’s ties to top general’s daughter earn US embassy online ire

The US embassy in Yangon has come under fire for partnering with a company owned by the daughter of Myanmar’s top general to promote an embassy-sponsored music festival.

On Monday, the embassy announced on Facebook that the 2020 Myanmar Music Festival would be streamed live online by entertainment company 7th Sense Creation on December 18.

The event, which is co-sponsored by the embassy and the Taiwan-based Hung Kuo Group, is organized by New York-based 88 International, a non-profit that aims to promote social harmony through music.

However, its media partner, 7th Sense Creation, is owned by Khin Thiri Thet Mon, the daughter of Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, who has been sanctioned by the US government for extreme human rights violations committed by the Myanmar military against the Rohingya in Rakhine state.

The revelation of the company’s role in the event provoked an angry backlash from social-media users, prompting the embassy to announce the following day that the event would be streamed on the festival’s webpage.

“As soon as we realized the situation, we contacted our co-organizer of the event,” US embassy spokesperson Aryani Manring told Myanmar Now.

The embassy was not involved in selecting 7th Sense Creation as the media partner and was not the major sponsor of the event, she said, adding that the US has not changed its policy on sanctions targeting senior military leaders and their families.

In July 2019, the US blacklisted four top Tatmadaw leaders—Commander-in-chief Min Aung Hlaing, Vice-Senior General Soe Win, Maj-Gen Than Oo, and Maj-Gen Aung Aung.

The involvement of Min Aung Hlaing’s daughter and daughter-in-law in Myanmar’s entertainment industry is well-known in the country, and was the subject of a feature story published by Myanmar Now in 2019.

Some social-media users criticized the US government for its “double standards,” with one commenting on the embassy’s Facebook page that it was “a hypocritical move to work together with 7th Sense.”

Another wrote in English: “We would like to request another media company instead of 7th Sense so that the perpetrators of human rights violations and their family members know that they will be blacklisted internationally after investigations.”

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