Hundreds Welcomed Prominent Exiled Chin Activist in Hakha
26 October 2012: About 300 people dressed up in Chin traditional costumes lined up at the entrance of Hakha to greet Victor Biak Lian, a prominent Chin activist who returns to his native town for a short visit after living in exile for more than 20 years.
The 47-year-old Chin leader received a warm welcome with a garland of flowers and a group of elderly people swaying in traditional dances as he arrived in Hakha, Chin State in the afternoon yesterday for the first time since 1988.
A team of youths holding banners that read ‘Hakha Youth Fellowship Warmly Welcomes You’ and ‘Welcome to Your Native Chinland’, and a band of musicians playing traditional instruments as well as singing Chin traditional classic songs pervaded the vicinity with the sounds of hands clapping from the local well-wishers.
“Tears of happiness and joy filled up our eyes and some overflowed. And yet, you could see traces of smiles on people’s faces,” said Pa Thang, one of the Hakha Youth leaders, who was at the reception.
Victor Biak Lian, recipient of the 2010 St. Shephen’s Prize for his contribution to human rights, reconciliation, democracy and freedom in Burma, expressed his gratitude for such splendid reception as he was presented a Chin shawl wrapped around his body as a sign of respect and hospitality.
Making a 5-minute speech at the gate to Hakha town, Victor Biak Lian recalled the moments he and his university mates went underground in 1988, adding: “We passed through this very place that we are standing now. I feel so proud to be able to set foot on my home soil again after over two decades.”
As a student activist, Victor Lian, together with many other Chins, fled to India following Burma’s notorious student-led 8888 uprising where more than 3,000 people were killed on the streets across the country by the then military regime.
As a sign of love, honour and admiration in Chin tradition, a group of university students carried him on their backs in turns from the entrance of the town to his parent’s house for about 50 minutes, without making his feet touch the ground along the way.
“Carrying someone on the back in Chin culture is one indication of respect and appreciation to the person. Today, we did this traditionally with a Chin blanket to Victor Biak Lian to show our admiration for him,” said the Chin youth leader from Hakha.
Victor Biak Lian, a former guerrilla fighter of the Chin National Front (CNF) and author of ‘Remembrance Days‘ written in Hakha-Chin dialect, is set to hold meetings with community and church leaders as well as youth groups during his short stay in Hakha, capital of Chin State.
On 29 October, he will also visit the Chin Christian College (CCC) and hold an hour-session of discussions with students and staff members after making a one-day trip to Thantlang town, about 20 miles away from Hakha.
Van Biak Thang