Chin National Day Set to Become State Holiday

By Zarni Mann 11 December 2012

The government of Burma’s northwestern Chin State is scheduled to discuss adding Chin National Day and Chin State Day to its official calendar, according to the Chin National Front (CNF).

“We’ve discussed that Feb. 20 should become Chin National Day and Jan. 3 to become Chin State Day during Union-level peace talks. We have also had assurances that the Chin State Parliament will discuss and set the final decision during this month’s session,” said Dr. Shwe Khar, assistant general-secretary 2 for the ethnic armed group.

If granted, Chin National Day and Chin State Day will also become government holidays in Burma’s most deprived state. Chin National Day is a date of historical importance that emerged through the course of the ethnic group’s struggle for self-determination.

On Feb. 20, 1928, the Chin Hills Union Organization was established in Hlatui Village in Kanpetlet Township. And exactly one decade later, on Feb. 20, 1938, the Chin Patriots submitted its nine proposals to the British colonial government.

Another 10 years later to the day, the General Assembly of Chin Land was held at Falam in Chin State. During the meeting, Chin representatives voted to overturn their traditional feudal system and adopt a democratic process for electing local and state leaders.

The first Chin National Day was celebrated on that same auspicious date in Mindat, Chin State, in 1951, with the event attended by Burma’s first Prime Minister U Nu. However, the occasion has not been celebrated widely in recent years as the former military government placed restrictions on marking dates associated with ethnic solidarity.

During recent peace talks, CNF delegations and President’s Office Minister Aung Min, Naypyidaw’s chief peace negotiator with rebel groups, agreed to form an independent committee to report on human rights abuses to the CNF, Burma’s National Human Rights Council and the state government.

In addition, discussions focused on the economic and social development of Chin State while also protecting the local environment.

“The CNF will form a committee to encourage development in the state,” said Shwe Khar. “We are planning to invite foreign and local research experts to find the best way to develop the area. We will later plan development projects for the state, based on their reports.”

“We are now planning to educate the children and youth of Chin State, especially in information technology,” he added.

Allowing children to learn the Chin language at school, building a road that connects the far north and south of the state, constructing an airport and opening Chin lodging homes in Naypyidaw, Rangoon, Mandalay and other cities were also discussed.

“We’ve agreed to continue discussions in the future and to call for a conference like Panglong where all ethnic people can participate,” said Shwe Khar. “We’ve signed 27 agreements including state autonomy and self-rule which Aung Min promised to submit to the [central] government.”

The CNF was formed on March 20, 1988, in the Indian state of Mizoram by the Burmese border, with the stated aim of securing self-determination for the Chin people and democracy within a federal union.

In January, the CNF signed a preliminary ceasefire and then held peace talks with central government representatives in Hakha on May 7. The subsequent deal included a cessation of hostilities and the opening of liaison offices in Tedim, Thantlang and Matupi.