February 17, 2015
Population: +- 5 million
Capital City: Hakha
Area: +- 36 000 square kilometres
Language: Various Kukish Languages
Religion: The majority of the Chin are Christian
Ethnic Groups: Mongoloid heritage; Asho tribe, Cho Tribe, Khumi Tribe, Kuki Tribe, Laimi Tribe, Lushai Tribe , Zomi Tribe
Chin National Front
On 20 March 1988, the Chin National Front was formed. The aims of the Chin National Front are:
1) To establish genuine democracy. To do this:
a) 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 the right to national self-determination;
3) To build stronger unity among the entire Chin Nation and
the people of Chinland;
4) To safeguard 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.
The Chin are around 5 million people who mainly live in the West of Myanmar, near the border with India. They are one of the most persecuted minority groups in Myanmar. The Chin are ethnically and linguistically very diverse: there are at least six primary Chin tribal groups that can be sub-categorized into 63 sub-tribes. Besides, there are at least twenty mutually unintelligible dialects. The Chins are of Mongoloid ethnicity and, moving south from central China, they 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, and Zomi Tribe.
Originally, Chin territory did not only comprise the Chin Hills, but also other neighbouring regions of Myanmar, Bangladesh, and India’s north-eastern states. The occupation of the British in the end of the 18th century, however, brought to an end the free and unified Chinland. As a result of military intervention, the British had assumed control over a large part of Chinland. The territory was divided into separate administrative zones. In 1948, when Myanmar became independent from Britain, the Chin people were further divided, as official international boundaries were demarcated. In 1962, a military coup ended Myanmar’s democratic system. Nearly 50 years of military rule followed.
As a result, peace is still not restored in Myanmar. The rights of the Chin are still violated. As the majority of the Chin is Christian, while the de facto State religion in Myanmar is Buddhism, the Chin are still being discriminated. According to the Burma’s 2008 Constitution, Buddhism has a special position, while the minority religions in the country are just recognised as existing.
As a result of the 50 years of military rule, in 2005 one third of the population of Myanmar lived below the poverty line. In the Chin State, the poverty rate is the highest of the country, reaching approximately 70 per cent.
Next to the high poverty rate, the Chin are still facing human rights violations. The Christian Chin people face violations of religious freedom, forced labour, sexual violence, and extra-judicial killings. According to the Burmese president, Thein Sein, human rights violations in the country are ‘past mistakes’. However, his government has failed to conduct any fully independent or impartial investigations into the violations that happened in the past. On the contrary, under the government of Thein Sein, ethnic and religious minorities still face serious violations.
The religious discrimination of non-Buddhist Chin includes eviction from villages, bans on holding worship services, and assaults.
In 2013, the government of Myanmar continued with violating religious rights. Without respect for the right to freedom of religious assembly or the right to observe days of rest in accordance with the precepts of one’s religion or belief, the President and his officials continued with their decades-long pattern of official events and visits on Sunday mornings in Chin State. Furthermore, local government authorities have threatened Christian villagers in the Chin State to burn down their houses if they continued to assemble for Christian worship.
In May 2014, the government of Myanmar published the draft of the ‘Religious Conversion Law’. If the government is truly going to adopt the legislation, this will unlawfully restrict the right to freely choose a religion. Besides, the law is in violation of fundamental human rights and could increase the violence against religious minorities in Myanmar. In the legislation it is stated that people who are applying for conversion ‘with the intent of destroying a religion’ could be punished with up to two years of imprisonment. If it will adopt these regulations, the government of Myanmar will violate customary international law. Articles and declarations violated by the government include article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the 1981 United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief. The ‘Religious Conversion Law’ was passed by the upper house of Myanmar’s Parliament in the end of January 2015.
Further human rights violations against the Chin in 2014 include illegal detention and the use of torture, forcibly shutting down of the publication and distribution of Chin newspapers and discriminatory restrictions in the Chin area.
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 drafted and enforced the Chin Hills Regulation Acts 1896 and administered the occupied Chinland (or) Chin Hills.
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.
1997: The second Chin National Front’s Party Conference was held at the Camp Victorian from June 20 – July 8, 1997.
1998: The First Chin Seminar was held in Ottawa, Canada and attended by 17 Chin compatriots – including former Members of Parliament, Elected Members of Parliament, Religious leaders, Chin scholars, and activists. The attendants formed the Chin Forum to work together by the Chin individuals on Chinland Constitution, Development, Communication, Education, and Historical Research.
2001: The Chin National Front became a member of the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO), representing the Chin people.
2004: A Chin Consensus Building Seminar was held in Camp Victoria, the General Headquarters of the Chin National Front, Chinland and attended by representatives of Chin National League for Democracy (CNLD), Chin National Front (CNF), Mara Peoples Party (MPP), Zomi National Congress (ZNC), as well as 95 representatives from Chin Civic Organizations/Socities based in and outside Chinland. The attendants of the said seminar formed Political Affairs Committee of Chinland (PACC) based on Chin National Political Parties.
2006: The Political Affairs Committee of Chinland (PACC) conducts the first Chin National Assembly at Mt. Sainai and the Chin National Council was formed. The Chin National Council comprises the Chin National Front, Chin National League for Democracy, Mara Peoples Party, Zomi National Congress and Civic Organizations to promote, protect, safeguard, and working together to implement the Chin national interests and benefits.