Chin Christian Leaders to Raise Religious Issues
01 December 2012: Christian leaders of Chin churches in Hakha, Chin State held a meeting on 27 November to discuss about issues related to religious freedom in Burma’s northwestern state.
Members of the Hakha Christian Ministers Fellowship and Hakha Baptist Association came together in an effort to prepare a document pertaining to freedom of religion ahead of the upcoming CNF-Government peace talks.
Rev. Za That Hmung, Vice Chairperson of HCMF said the meeting was aimed at bringing up concerns on current situation of religious freedom across Chin State, which would be put forward to leaders of the Chin National Front.
“We discussed about the ways and means in which a research would be collectively conducted in order to highlight updates on situation of religious issues in general,” Rev. Za That Hmung was quoted as saying by the Hakha Post.
It is believed that the submission will be a supplement to a variety of issues on the agenda of discussion between the Chin National Front (CNF) and Burma’s government.
One of the 15-point provisions reached during the previous CNF-Govt peace negotiation is for both parties to respect basic human rights as described in the Constitution of the Union of Myanmar under Article 449.
The agreement said: “As such, freedom from interference, obstruction, restrictions, discrimination and physical abuse against religious practice under articles 34, 348, 362, 363, 354 (e) of the Constitution, cannot be alienated except in situations of ‘Widespread civil war, foreign invasion and civil uprising in the whole Union’.”
In September, the Chin Human Rights Organization (CHRO) released a ‘revealing’ report on continuation of religious freedom violations against ethnic Chin Christians under both the previous and current governments of Burma.
Recently, about 40 Christian leaders based in Rangoon were ordered by Burma’s authorities to report a list of their members and students as guests staying in their compound, and details of monthly activities on a regular basis.
“The order came from the District level authority. The main reason they cited was that our properties including the land and buildings were not legally registered,” said one of the Chin pastors, who took part in the meeting summoned by the local authorities.
The third phase of ceasefire peace talks between CNF and Union-level Peace Team of Burma’s government will take place in Rangoon on 7-8 December 2012.
Reporting by Thawng Zel Thang