Crowd Welcomes Prominent Chin Exile at Rangoon Airport
10 October 2012: A crowd of over 200 ethnic Chin and Burmese news crew packed Rangoon international airport this afternoon to greet Dr. Lian Hmung Sakhong, a prominent ethnic leader who returns for a short visit to his native country after spending the last two decades in exile.
Chairman of the Ethnic Nationalities Council (ENC) and Director of the exile-based think tank Burma Center for Ethnic Studies, Dr. Lian Hmung Sakhong returns to Burma to attend a seminar entitled ‘Can political reforms bring genuine peace to Myanmar?’ jointly organized by Myanmar Egress and Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO) mid this month.
Dr. Sakhong, winner of 2007 Sweden’s Martin Luther King Jr. Prize, is set to make a paper presentation on equality, freedom and self-determination demanded by Burma’s ethnic nationalities at the seminar.
Speaking at the airport, Dr. Sakhong said: “Problems in Burma must not be solved in battle fields but in a face-to-face discussion on the table. It will not be possible to solve problems related to ethnic groups in our country by military means. It must be solved through political means.”
Greeted at Mingalardon Airport by about 200 Chins including members of Chin political parties, community leaders, pastors and universities students, Dr. Sakhong expressed his delight in being able to return to his native country.
“I am overwhelmed by the warm greetings not only by Chin friends and relatives but also ethnic brothers and sisters like this. Twenty-two years is not such a short time. It is nearly half of my lifespan.”
During his stay in Burma, Dr. Lian H. Sakhong, who is a member of the Chin National Front’s Supreme Council, is programmed to hold meetings with MPs and ethnic leaders, and to participate in public consultation organized by CNF.
Sources said that the Chin scholar of a Swedish citizen is to make a trip to his native place, Chin State, which still remains a restricted zone requiring a special permit for foreigners to visit the country’s poorest region.
Dr. Salai Lian H. Sakhong, former General Secretary of United Nationalities League for Democracy, has authored several well-known books including In search of Chin identity: A Study in Religion, Politics and Ethnic Identity in Burma; Religion and Politics among the Chin people in Burma (1896-1949); and Federalism and Ethnic Issues In Burma in Burmese language.
He was also a former General Secretary of the Chin National League for Democracy Party (CNLD), a political party that won three parliamentary seats during the 1990 elections in Chin state.
Thawng Zel Thang