March 25, 2008

Chin

STATISTICS

Population: 600,000
Capital City:
Area: 36 000 square kilometres
Language: Burmese
Ethnic Groups: Mongoloid heritage; Asho tribe, Cho Tribe, Khumi Tribe, Kuki Tribe, Laimi Tribe, Lushai Tribe , Zomi Tribe


UNPO REPRESENTATION: Chin National Front

 

OVERVIEW

The Chin, at the time of independence from the British in 1948, through the Panglong Agreement, aimed at founding a Union, which guaranteed equality and justice among the co-founders.  Nevertheless, when the union materialized according to the Constitution of the Union of Burma (1947 constitution), the Chin, like other nationalities, had not only lost their self-determination right but were stripped of other rights: to administer the Chin territories, to have equal representation in the legislative body, and to enjoy basic and fundamental democratic rights. This lost of rights entailed civil war in the country and therefore to get a peaceful solution non-Burman nationalities held a conference at Tauggyi, the Capital city of Shan State in 1961 and reached 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-Burman nationalities to establish a genuine federalism was destroyed when the military staged a coup on March 2, 1962. In the mean time, Chin peoples put up suggestions to the military regime for building genuine federation. However, the regime not only denied the suggestion but responded by arrest, torture, persecution and killing. Under the military regime the Chin not only lose their rights but suffered destruction of their literature, culture, custom, and traditions. The Chin National Front was therefore formed on the 20th of March, 1988 and started its political revolt against the military regime with the aims: to topple the chauvinist military dictatorship, to secure national rights and to uplift the nation's economic, political, and social conditions.

OVERVIEW

GEOGRAPHY

The Chinland locates in Southeast Asia and lies between the longitude 92.15ºE and 97ºE, and in between the latitude 18ºN and 27.30ºN.

Bangladesh is to its Southwest, Manipur State of India is to its Northwest, China is to its North, Burma is to its East, and Arakan is to its South. With an area of circa 36 000 square kilometres, the present day Chinland - a mountainous landscape stretching along the present day Indo-Burma border - is slightly smaller than Switzerland. Chinland is rich in natural flora (orchids etc) and fauna (Elephant, Tiger, Bear, Wild Boar, Various kinds of monkeys, barking deer, wild goat and various kinds of birds) and alpine flora is very common in the country. The highest mountain in Chinland is Khawnutum (Mount Victoria). The biggest river in Chinland is known as Kaladan river. The biggest lake is called Rih Lake.

CLIMATE

Chinland has a mild hot wet climate. April and May are the hottest months of the year where average temperatures of the months range from 60º F (15.5º C) to 80º (21º C).

Average temperature in the cold seasons is below 40º F (4.4º C). In the cold seasons, temperatures fall as low as freezing point of water in the higher parts of mountains.
Average annual rainfall is 80 – 120 inches. The Southern part of Chinland gets more due to the storms come from Bay of Bengal.

POPULATION

The population of the present Chinland is circa half million.
The Chins inhabiting in Chinland and its territories are approximately two millions.

PEOPLE

The Chins are of the Mongoloid race and descended from central China southwards and settled in the present Chinland. The Chins are composed with several tribes such as: Asho tribe, Cho Tribe, Khumi Tribe, Kuki Tribe, Laimi Tribe, Lushai Tribe , Zomi Tribe, and so on.

POLITICAL SITUATION

In order to strengthen their grip of power, the State Peace and Development Council of Burma (SPDC) has been engaging border trade with the Indian Government for over the last ten years. Several bi-lateral agreements have been made between Indian government and the military junta and pursuant to these agreements border trades and joint military operations have been lunched.

The implication of these agreements is also seen in the constructions of major roads passing through Chinland from India to Burma have been going on the past ten years which have caused major deforestation.

As a results for the past ten years Chin villages nearby deforested areas have been deprived of drinking water.

Giant Oil Corporations such as Unocal and others also have maneuver their interest in exploiting the natural gas and oil in Chinland and surrounding areas, indicating plans to build pipelines through Chinland to export oils to India for their own benefit.

Exploiting natural resources and building pipelines through Chinland to India will once again generate forced labor, forced relocation, forced collection of money, gross violation of human rights, and massive destruction of environment in Chinland as well.

UNPO MEMBER PERSPECTIVE

Aims:
The aims of Chin National Front in its revolt against the dictators are: 
1) To establish genuine democracy, in doing this: 
a) federal union based on national states must be built; 
b) the national states' right of secession must be included in the federal constitution;
c) the federal army must be formed with equal strength sent from state armies; 
2) To secure national self-determination right;
3) To build stronger unity among the entire Chin nation and 
the people of Chinland;
4) To safe-guard peace, law and order, justice and equality 
within the Chin national territories;
5) To uplift the national political, economic, social status 
and living standard of the people of Chinland.

HISTORICAL BACKGROUND

The Chins are of the Mongoloid race and originated in central China. Sometime before the 9th century, they slowly descended from central China southwards and settled in the region between the Chindwin and Irrawaddy rivers of Burma.

It is believed that they had entered and settled in Chinland around 1000 AD.
The Chin language belongs to the Tibeto-Burman group and the Chin have their own culture and literature. The Chins were an independent nation who had a territory with distinct borders. Although the British declared that the entire Chinland fell under their rule in 1895, it was only in the early 20th century that the British were able to bring the whole of Chinland under their control.

Chinland was divided, without consultation with the people, into two parts when the Burma Act of 1937 split Burma from British-India. The western part of Chinland remained under British-India and the eastern part came under the administration of British-Burma. When British India became independent in 1947, the western part of Chinland was divided again, again without consultation with the people, when India and Pakistan were divided. One part fell to East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) and the other part came under Indian administration.

While Burman nationalist youths formed We Burmans Association, launching a national movement, young Chin nationalists started a separate national movement under the name of Chin National Union. In 1933 the Union presented a demand for independence to the British authorities in Rangoon and in 1939, the youths who made this demand were arrested and jailed. When Atlee's Labour Party won the general elections and Atlee became Prime Minister in 1945, it became certain that British colonies were to get independence. The Aung San-Atlee meeting not only recognized the pre-colonial freedom and sovereignty of Chin, Kachin and Shan nations but also acknowledged their rights: to get separate independence, to establish separate national states and national self- determination.

The representatives of Chin, Kachin and Shan met at Panglong in Shan State from 6th-7th of February, 1947 and agreed to form a Union with the Burmans provided there would be equality and democratic rights and the right to secession at will. The Burman representatives led by General Aung San accepted these points and the historic Panglong Agreement was signed on February 12, 1947. So there emerged the Union of Burma into the world.

Though it was agreed, the Union was to be built on the guarantee of equal status, equal opportunity and equal rights, inequality and discrimination emerged among the co- founders under the 1947 constitution. Some parts of Chinland came under Burma proper and Chin people were put under different administrations. This situation led to civil war and became uncontrollable. In order to find a solution to the political problem - the lack of genuine federation - a conference was convened at Taunggyi, Shan State from 8th - 16th of June, 1961.

Popularly known as the Taunggyi representatives from all states, Kachin, Kaya, Karen, Chin, Rakhine, Mon and Shan states attended. Unfortunately, the Burmese military, led by General Ne Win, staged a coup in the name of the Revolutionary Council, on March 2, 1962. They seized the state power from the popular government, nullifying the efforts to establish a genuine federation that would guarantee peace and justice, claiming they did so in order, "to safeguard the possible disintegration of the union". They overthrew the 1947 constitution and ruled the country with martial law for 12 years.

The revolutionary council issued announcement No. 74 dated December 5, 1968 inviting suggestions of the citizens with regard to building solidarity among the nationalities. Chin peoples responded overwhelmingly presenting 150 points of suggestion with regard to equality, justice and genuine federation. However, more than 70 Chin intellectuals who were believed to have contributed the suggestions were arrested and put in jail, without any trial, until a new constitution was adopted in 1974.

The military elite forced Chin people, like other nationalities, to embrace the so-called constitution of the Union of the Socialist Republic of Burma (a constitution that embodied one party dictatorship) on 3rd January 1974. Freedom, peace and social security were eliminated under this constitution.

In addition systematic efforts were made to eliminate the literature, culture and traditions of all nationalities other than the Burmans in order to assimilate all other nationalities into the Burmans’. Efforts were also made to spread Buddhism by restricting the practice of other religions.

Because of the Burmese chauvinist dictators' struggle for supremacy over other nationalities in aspects of race, religion and language and to cling on to power, the people suffered all kinds of suppression and severe human rights violations, and unceasing civil war raged. That is why the military dictatorship adopted the closed-door policy and isolated Burma from the rest of the world. As a result of this policy and because of prevailing corruption in the Burmese way of socialism, Burma became one of the least developed countries in the world.

Though the nation-wide uprising started on August 8, 1988 threatened to topple the one-party dictatorship, the military elite again staged a coup d'etat on September 18, 1988.

Important historic events of the Chins:

1895 Greater part of the Independent Chinland was annexed by the British colonial power after launching three major offensive military attacks on Chinland. However, the entire Chinland fell under the total control of the British only in early 20th century.

1896 The British draft and enforced the Chin Hills Regulation Acts and administered the occupied Chinland.

1933 The Chin National Union (CNU) was formed by the Chin patriots and demanded Independent Chinland from British-Burma government in Rangoon.

1947 The representatives of Chin participated in Panglong Conference along with the Kachin, Shan, and Burman representatives, singed historic Panglong Agreement on February 12, 1947 to form a federal union with equal rights, privileges, and status including secession right.

1947 The Chin representatives participated in Drafting Process of the Future Constitution of the Union of Burma under the leadership of General Aung San. The draft Constitution was drawn up by a 111-member committee of the AFPFL Convention which met on May 20, 1947, and approved on May 23 when the Convention was dissolved.

1948 The Union of Burma gained independence from Britain on January 4, 1948; and the Constitution of Burma (1947) was enforced. However, the Burman politicians disregarded the principles of Panglong Agreement so that the independence was stumbled with the civil war.

1948 Over five thousand Chins from all over the Chinland held unprecedented gathering in Falam Town and proclaimed in their unity and determination to be free from traditional feudal administrative system, and adopted a democratic system of governance on February 20, 1948, which later became the Chin National Day.

1961 In order to amend the Constitution of Burma (1947) into more federate features as agreed in Panglong Conference, the Chins and all non-Burman nationalities gathered in Taunggyi, the Capital of Shan State from June 8 16, 1961.

1962 The General Ne Win and his associates staged a coup in the name of Revolutionary Council (RC). Many Chin politicians and scholars presumed to participate in Taunggyi Conference were arrested.

1964 Chin National Organization (CNO) went underground to overthrow the military junta and restore democratic government.

1971 Chin Democracy Party (CDP) was formed in liberated area to overthrow the military junta and restore democracy in Burma.

1972 Over 70 Chin intellectuals, who had made suggestion to Revolutionary Council on RC announcement No. 74, Date December 5, 1968, were arrested by the military junta and sent them to jail.

1974 The Revolutionary Council drafted and enforced the Constitution of the Socialist Republic of the Union of Burma. The said Constitution has promoted and protected one party dictatorship.

1988 The Chin National Front was formed on March 20, 1988 to regain self- determination right of the Chin People and to restore democracy and federalism in the Union of Burma.

1988 The Chin National Front became a member of the Democratic Alliance of Burma (DAB) on November 18, 1988.

1989 The Chin National Front became a member of the National Democratic Front (NDF) on February 1989.

1992 The Chin National Front, as a member of National Democratic Front (NDF), participated and gave its consent on the Manepalaw Agreement to establish genuine Federal Union. The Manepalaw Agreement was signed by National Democratic Front, Democratic Alliance of Burma, National League for Democracy (Liberated Area), and the National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma on July 11, 1992.

1993 The first Chin National Front’s Party Conference was held in the General Headquarters of Chin National Front on June 9 – 16, 1993 and the Government of Chinland was formed.
1997 The Chin National Front participated and signed the Maetharawhta Agreement. The Agreement was signed by KNPP, PPLO, WNO, UWSP, PSLF, KIO, AASYC, LDF, NMSP, ALP, KNLP, SURA, CNF, SDU, and KNU.
The second Chin National Front’s Party Conference was held at the Camp Victorian from June 20 – July 8, 1997.

2001 The Chin National Front became a member of the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO), representing the Chin people.

CULTURE & ENVIRONMENT

CULTURE AND LANGUAGE

As Chinland is endowed by many dales and hills as well as enriched by various floras and faunas, the culture and literature of the Chins are also diverse and rich though embedded in a single domain (or) ascended from a single domain, the Chin.

There is no fundamental differences in Chin language and culture, however, the Chins have minor differences in their language and culture to suit different environments accepting them as verities of tradition and as the richness of

CHIN LITERATURE AND CULTURE

The Chins are rich in folk tales, folk dances, folk music, as well as musical instruments. The Chin cultural heritages are preserved, maintained, and transformed from one generation to another by oral history before the Chins have writing system in early 1900s. The arrival of Christian missionaries in early 1900s, again, enhanced the culture and language of the Chins into a more sophisticate ways. Today, over seventy percent of the Chins are Christians but minority of the Chins are also devotees of Buddhism, Traditional Chin religion, and others.

The Chin language descended from Tibeto-Burman language domain. However, each tribal group speaks its own dialect, but Burmese is widely used in Chinland due to Burmanization of military regime for over five decades. The Chins are known as honest, tolerant, brave, and religious people. This distinctness of language and culture indicate that the Chins are one of the indigenous peoples in their own land.