General Strike in Tedim to Demand District Status

By Zarni Mann 8 June 2012

Locals from Tedim, northern Chin State, held a general strike during the visit of State Minister Hung Ngai on Friday to urge the local authorities to upgrade their township to district status.

All shops, market stalls and stores remained closed while activists stuck up posters and sprayed paint with their demands on the walls of public places. Slogans read: “Sorrowfully welcome to Tedim which is not recognized as a district.”

“Every shop and market is closed,” said a local resident. “The public areas of the town are deserted. We just want to show our dissatisfaction. However, we will not go out to the streets to shout out or march.”

Hung Ngai was due to visit Tedim on his way to Monywa. Currently Chin State has only two districts—Falam in the north and Minda to the south. Campaigners believe that district status will bring governmental offices to Tedim, which would in turn bring improved health, education, economic growth and transportation.

“Many of the people who have to deal with government offices from our town have to travel to those faraway places, wasting time. We want our own district,” said one of the activists.

Locals say that a submission to the Chin State Parliament on June 1 requesting the upgrade of Tedim from township to district was lost. Hakah won promotion with 11 votes with the backing of the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), while Tedim only received five.

“Hakah and Thantlang won the votes to be upgraded to a district with the support of the USDP,” an activist told The Irrawaddy. “Therefore we feel like we have been discriminated against due to clan differences and regional bias.”

The general strike was also deemed a protest by local people against the planned opening of a Chin National Front (CNF) liaison office in the town. After initial peace talks between CNF and Naypyidaw earlier this year, the government agreed to allow liaison offices in Tedim, Thantlang and Matupi.

“Our MPs and hundreds of locals appealed to the government authorities in February that we will not allow a CNF office in our area, but the appeal has been ignored,” added the activist. “We will do everything possible in the future to address these matters.”