Has “Chin Na­tional Day” Achieved?

The Global Digest (English) - - Contents - By John S. Thang

Myan­mar, for­merly known as Burma, was formed as an in­de­pen­dent multi-na­tions state, a com­bi­na­tion of dif­fer­ent na­tion­al­i­ties and their ter­ri­to­ries. The eth­nic Chin is one of the eight ma­jor eth­nic na­tion­al­i­ties in Myan­mar, the other seven are Kachin, Karen, Karenni, Shan, Mon, Arakan, and Bur­man.

In Myan­mar, the Chin state lies ap­prox­i­mately be­tween North Lat­i­tude 21°0' and 24°15' and East Lon­gi­tude be­tween 93°15' and 94°0. It has an es­ti­mated area of 13,907 sq miles.

The Chin peo­ple were in­volved in move­ment for greater free­doms and in­de­pen­dence in the Union of Myan­mar, through fight­ing Bri­tish col­o­niza­tion, Ja­panese Fas­cism in World War II, and the Com­mu­nists in the civil war. For ex­am­ple the “Chin Ri­fles,” one of di­vi­sions of the fed­eral gov­ern­ment army made up of eth­nic Chin sol­diers, and its mil­i­tary hero Capt. Thai Co­eng, were out­stand­ing fight­ers against the Fas­cist Ja­panese in World War II and the Com­mu­nists in Arakan, the Shan state and Pagu Yo­mas.

“Chin Na­tional Day”

The tra­di­tional rul­ing sys­tem, in­clud­ing el­e­ments such as chief­tain­ship and the feu­dal sys­tem, were abol­ished at the Chin Con­fer­ence held on Feb. 20, 1948 in Falam town, the state cap­i­tal of the Chin state. It was the only the oc­ca­sion of the con­fer­ence in Chin state in Myan­mar have demo­crat­i­cally elected lead­ers.

Fe­bru­ary 20 has thus been des­ig­nated as “Chin Na­tional Day” as it marks the be­gin­ning of free­dom and democ­racy in the Chin state. This day marks the first time a demo­cratic rul­ing sys­tem was prac­ticed in the Chin state. In the process of de­moc­ra­ti­za­tion, this “Chin Na­tional Day” was reaf­firmed by the Chin af­fairs Coun­cil on Oct 9, 1950. Since then “Chin Na­tional Day” has been widely cel­e­brated as a com­mem­o­ra­tive day.

The Na­tional of the Chin Peo­ple

The word “na­tion” comes from the Latin “na­tio,” mean­ing birth place of or ori­gin; it was used to re­fer to a cer­tain group. Like­wise the term “Chin Na­tional” also des­ig­nates the ori­gin of Chin peo­ple’s birth place on the Chin land, and re­flects the Chin peo­ple’s dig­nity, free­dom, and cul­ture.

The Chin peo­ple never be­longed to Bur­man na­tion­al­ity. The Chin peo­ple were the first to mi­grate to the Chin land. They have al­ways been the na­tive res­i­dents and own­ers of

the Chin ter­ri­tory.

In terms of ter­ri­to­rial bound­aries, “the Chin Na­tion­al­ity” is com­prised of the Matupi, Palatwa, Min­dat, Hakha, Falam and Tedim ma­jor town­ships of the Chin state. Peo­ple de­scen­dent from th­ese towns are the le­gal own­ers of the Chin ter­ri­tory and they are the na­tive res­i­dents.

Peo­ple liv­ing in other ar­eas like Asho, Lushai and Thado in Myan­mar are also Chin na­tion­als, but they do not have a clear cut ter­ri­tory of their own.

There­fore “Na­tion­al­ity” is very im­por­tant and mean­ing­ful in this ge­o­graph­i­cal, po­lit­i­cal and his­tor­i­cal con­text. More­over, the term “Na­tion­al­ity” is the term cho­sen by the Chin peo­ple to ex­press their po­lit­i­cal rights. It is the rights of Chin peo­ple and th­ese rights should be pro­tected. It is re­flected in the com­mem­o­ra­tion of “Chin Na­tional Day,” no­body should abol­ish this com­mem­o­ra­tion day. Ac­cord­ing to the UN Dec­la­ra­tion on In­dige­nous Peo­ple, Ar­ti­cle 33, “In­dige­nous peo­ples have the right to de­ter­mine their own iden­tity in ac­cor­dance with their cus­toms and tra­di­tions.”

Fur­ther­more, “Chin Na­tion­al­ity” com­pares equally with other na­tion­al­i­ties in Myan­mar. There­fore, “Chin Na­tional Day” is a very im­por­tant day for Chin peo­ple, and it is the high­light in the Chin peo­ple’s iden­tity. Through this sym­bolic day of “Chin Na­tional Day” Chin peo­ple want to pre­serve and pass down the Chin cul­tures and cus­toms into the fu­ture gen­er­a­tion.

Nowa­days, the mil­i­tary gov­ern­ment has ru­ined the cul­ture and iden­tity of the Chin peo­ple by send­ing troops to their ter­ri­tory. The life of the Chin peo­ple was de­te­ri­o­rated. One of the rea­sons is the lack of po­lit­i­cal knowl­edge among Chin peo­ple. In fact, Myan­mar’s mil­i­tary gov­ern­ment has been an il­le­gal gov­ern­ment for a long­time.

Chin peo­ple are de­nied reli­gious free­dom as well. They are forced to ob­serve Bud­dhism in­stead of Chris­tian­ity. Over 90 per­cent of Chins are Chris­tian.

Since the mil­i­tary gov­ern­ment ruled, thou­sands of sol­diers are sent to ev­ery town and vil­lages in the Chin state to in­di­rectly oc­cupy and op­press the peo­ple there. The sol­diers are asked by the mil­i­tary gov­ern­ment to marry Chin women, in re­turn, the sol­diers will re­ceived their job pro­mo­tions in the mid­dle of eth­nic con­flict. It is also as part of a pol­icy to pro­mote bio-geno­cide. Al­though there are a hand­ful of Chin rebel groups, they are in­ac­tive and merely a show­case, they are im­po­si­tion to push back that any of mil­i­tary gov­ern­ment pro­jected and en­ter­ing into Chin ter­ri­tory.

Con­clu­sion

Look­ing back on the whole story, it is a con­se­quence of the ag­gres­sive pol­icy of the Myan­mar mil­i­tary gov­ern­ment. Cer­tainly, the Myan­mar mil­i­tary gov­ern­ment ne­glected the de­vel­op­ment of the Chin peo­ple and dis­re­garded Chin sin­cer­ity to­ward the for­ma­tion of a uni­fied coun­try dur­ing the for­ma­tive years of the Union of Burma.

Chin Na­tional Day is also to re­call democ­racy, hu­man rights, and free­dom in Myan­mar on this oc­ca­sion. The mil­i­tary gov­ern­ment must stop op­press­ing the Chin peo­ple po­lit­i­cally, so­cial-eco­nom­i­cally, and re­li­giously.

At the mo­ment, there is an on­go­ing of­fen­sive war against the eth­nic Kachin, eth­ni­cally brother of the Chin peo­ple, and this, too, must stop. The in­volve­ment of in­ter­na­tional so­ci­ety is needed to end the eth­nic re­pres­sion in Burma. There are still thou­sands of refugees from Myan­mar in neigh­bor­ing coun­tries.

Chin peo­ple protest in-front of Myan­mar Em­bassy

The beau­ti­ful Chin hill

John S. Thang is a Burmese ac­tivist based in South Korea. He is the Man­ag­ing Editor of the Global Di­gest mag­a­zine. His PhD dis­ser­ta­tion is on the com­par­i­son be­tween For­eign Poli­cies of South Korea and Myan­mar.

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