A Year in Review: Top News and Events that Mattered to the Chins in 2010
01 January 2011: As the year 2011 begins, Chinland Guardian is pleased to present a review of the significant news and events that mattered to the Chin people in 2010. While the review is based mainly on reporting by Chinland Guardian during the past year, it also draws on other sources, which have significant impacts on the lives of the Chin people. In taking a look back at 2010, the Editorial Team this year has decided to list the events by category, unlike the previous year in which events were listed in chronological order.
Chin Electorate Deny USDP Clear Victory in Chin State
Two leading Chin political parties, the Chin National Party (CNP) and Chin Progressive Party (CPP) together managed to win a total of 20 parliamentary seats (which include both Houses of the national Parliament, as well as, the State Parliament) out of the total 39 contestable seats in Chin State during the November 7 Burma’s elections, amidst reports of widespread electoral frauds, tactics of intimidations and threats from Burma’s ruling State Peace and Development Council (SPDC). Denying a clear majority for the SPDC-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) was the Chin electorate’s expression of their peaceful political dissent against the military’s continued rule.
First Chin Woman MP Elected
The November 7 elections saw the first Chin woman candidate, Pi Za Tlem of the Chin National Party (CNP) being elected to People’s Parliament (Pyithu Hluttaw) from Thantlang Township.
Kalay Declaration Adopted at ZNC Anniversary Celebration
On 24 October, the Zomi National Congress (ZNC) led by its leader Pu Cin Sian Thang, held its 22nd founding anniversary in Kalay, Sagaing Division. Attended by leaders of the 1990 election-winning parties, the ZNC conference ended with the signing of the “Kalay Declaration,” calling for the Second multi-ethnic Panglong Conference, one similar to the first Conference in Panglong in 1947, towards the rebuilding of a federal Union of Burma. The declaration has been widely endorsed by both inside and outside actors, including the recently released Aung San Suu Kyi.
RELIGION AND SOCIETY
First International Chin Christian Conference
The Global Chin Christian Fellowship (GCCF) was established in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on 26 November. Attended by over 250 Christian leaders and delegates from 14 countries around the world, the conference was the largest gathering of Chin Christian leaders from across denomination lines. The conference was a product of an earlier preliminary gathering in Pattaya, Thailand under the title “Chin Christian Leaders’ Consultation” in February.
The Chin Human Rights Organization (CHRO) reported that a 23-foot high concrete Christian cross in the Mindat Township area, southern Chin State, was forcibly destroyed on 24 July by direct order of the authorities, including the District and Township level Peace and Development Council, the District Religious Affairs Department, and a Mindat abbot from the Hill Region Buddhist Mission. The destruction in Mindat is the ninth documented case of deliberate destruction of Christian cross by the Burmese authorities since 1994.
Awards and Honors
Victor Biak Lian was awarded the St. Stephen’s Prize by Oslo-based Christian human rights organization Norwegian Mission to the East (NME) on November 9. The 45-year-old Chin activist has been tirelessly involved in the struggle for democracy and human rights in Burma for more than 22 years since the student-led 8888 uprising against the military regime. Victor works as a member of the Board of Directors of Chin Human Rights Organization (CHRO), the Chin Forum (CF) and the Ethnic Nationalities Council (ENC). The award was given in recognition of “outstanding contribution to human rights, reconciliation and religious freedoms in Burma.”
Sung Tin Par, one of Burma’s top celebrated singers, was honored with the title “Humanitarian Goodwill Ambassador for the Chins,” by the Chin community of the United States upon successful conclusion of the Chin Food Aid Concert series held across the United States.
Levi Sap Nei Thang, founder-cum-president of a non-profit Christian charitable organization called ‘i Love Myanmar’ was awarded ‘Myanmah Luatlatyi Kungyi Mawkuinwin’ for her humanitarian works in the country on Independence Day, 4 January 2010.
Ms. Tin Khan Cing, a third year medical student, won the first prize of Myanmar Radio and Television (MRTV’s) nationwide singing contest in Burma. Outperforming 30 other competitors, Tin Khan Cing walked away with a monetary prize of 108,000 Kyats.
Felix Lian Khen Thang, previously an auxiliary bishop of the Diocese of Hakha, was appointed in May by His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI to be the first bishop of a newly established diocese in Kalay Myo, Sagaing Division of Burma.
At least 17 people died in the single deadliest road accident in Chin State on 26 November. A bus carrying Christian jubilee-goers was en-route Tedim Town to attend a centennial celebration marking the arrival of American missionary Rev. J Cope in the area one hundred years ago in November. The accident occurred near the village of Tualzaang, close to Vial Cian area located half way between Tedim and Tonzang of northern Chin State.
On 24 May, 13 Chin refugees including two toddlers died in a road accident in Thailand. A Malaysia-bound vehicle driven by a ‘paid’ Thai agent carrying a total of 29 Chin refugees swerved suddenly, plunged 30 feet off the road and smashed a big tree as the Thai police signaled the car to stop between Phetchaburi and Cha Am provinces in Thailand.
Heavy torrential rain hit Chin State in early October causing flash floods and landslides, major road blockades, crop destructions, and property damage, and claiming at least six lives, and leaving hundreds homeless in Chin State. On 22 October, Cyclone Giri hit Arakan State where an estimated 2,000 Chin families were affected.
Severe food crisis caused by rat infestation continued to plague southern Chin State affecting at least over 100 villages in Kanpetlet Township alone. In 2010, four border-based Chin humanitarian groups Chin Famine Emergency Relief Committee (CFERC), Public Affairs Committee (PAC), Chin Humanitarian Relief Committee (CHRC) and the Women League of Chinland (WLC) distributed over four million Rupees worth of food aid to victims of hunger in Chin State.
REPORT & PUBLICATION
The World Food Program (WFP) released a report in October saying that food security conditions remain ‘critical’ in Chin State. Based on data collections and surveys conducted in eight of the nine townships in Chin State, the report predicted a significant reduction in crop productions and called for the provision of urgent relief aids to the affected areas.
Dr. Lian Hmung Sakhong’s new book “In defense of Identity,” a collection of writings and speeches was published by Orchid Press in November.