Today marks the 65th National Day of the Chin people, an ethnic minority group in the Union of Myanmar. Celebrations are organized by the Chin National Front in partnership with the Chin State government.
On the 20th February each year, the Chin commemorate the event of 1948, when the General Assembly of Chinland was held in Falam. At the assembly, 5000 representatives voted to overturn their traditional feudal system and adopt democracy for electing local and State leaders. Thus 20th February is marked as the day the political power in Chinland was handed over from autocratic rulers to the Chin people – the day the Chin first enjoyed true freedom and democracy.
The Chin are of Tibeto-Burman groups who came to Burma, especially to the Chindwin valley in the late 9th or 10th century AD. Most Chin people moved westward and they probably settled in the present Chin State around 1300-1400. They enjoyed independence and had their own territory with distinct borders. Beside the Chin State, they are also found in nearby Indian states of Nagaland, Mizoram, Manipur and Assam. Over 70% of the Chin are Christian due to a history of active preaching by Baptist missionaries. The population of the present Chinland is circa half million. The Chin inhabiting Chinland and its territories number approximately two millions
Following Burmese independence from the British in 1948, the Chin were forced to witness how the materialized Union stripped them of the rights to administer the Chin territories, to have equal representation in the legislative body, and to enjoy basic and fundamental democratic rights. This loss of rights entailed civil war in the country. To reach a peaceful solution, non-Burmese nationalities held a conference at Tauggyi, the Capital city of Shan State, in 1961 and adopted resolutions to reform the country into a genuine federation, promising democratic rights, equal representation and equality and justice in all aspects. However, the will of the non-Burmese nationalities to establish a genuine federalism was destroyed when the military staged a coup on March 2, 1962. In the meantime, Chin people submitted suggestions to the military regime for building a genuine federation. However, the regime not only disregarded their suggestions but responded by arrests, torture, persecution and killing. Under the military regime the Chin not only lost their human rights but suffered destruction of their literature, culture, custom, and traditions.
These events led to the formation of the Chin National Front on the 20th of March, 1988. The Chin National Front aims to topple the chauvinistic military dictatorship, to secure national rights and to uplift the nation’s economic, political, and social conditions.
The joint organization of this national holiday by the Chin National Front and the Chin state government in Hakha is a historic milestone for the nation, as it marks the approval of the recognition of Chin National Day as an official holiday. The day’s activities promise to be exciting with singers from all over the State and India’s Mizoram. The entertainment will broadcast live on the Sky net TV channel. Other events will include both traditional and modern competitions like Chin wresting, Khuang Cawi dance, volleyball, badminton and high jump.
This year’s Chin National Day will be attended by many CNF members and senior leaders Pu Lian Uk and Dr. Za Hlei Thang. U Sai Muak Kham, Vice President of the Union of Myanmar. U Aung Min and U Win Htun, Union ministers, will also be in attendance.
UNPO hopes that this day, finally recognized as a national holiday by the government, will represent a milestone for the respect of the human rights of the Chin people, and give a new impetus to the realization of their inalienable right to self-determination and social betterment in their native homeland.