Chin Christian govt staff ordered to prepare food for Buddhist offerings
27 September 2013: Chin Christian government employees in Hakha say they have been ordered to prepare food to be offered at Buddhist monasteries during the Uposatha day, known in English as the ‘Buddhist Sabbath’.
A governement staff member in Hakha told Chinland Guardian that each department had been forcibly asked to do the cooking unpaid, but during or after office hours the day before the Buddhist day of observance.
“There are few Buddhist staff members in each department but it is an order from the authorities that everyone must partake or make contributions for the offerings,” added the Hakha government employee.
Another Chin Christian employee indicated that it had been going on for years and still remained normal practice even under Thein Sein’s government.
Schools are closed on this Buddhist Sabbath day although it is not a public holiday and students are forced to attend classes in lieu on Saturdays, sometimes even on Sundays.
In Burma, uposatha, aka ubot nei in Burmese, is observed two to six days each lunar month.
“Now that we have a new democratic government, we must be given a choice and a chance to freely practice our religion. The authorities know we are Christian but we just have to follow the instructions,” said a Chin Christian female.
In the whole of Hakha Township with a population of 52,439, the number of Buddhists is 538, with 8 monasteries and pagodas, according to the government statistics.
A community leader from Thantlang town said: “What we see in our daily lives is a new government with the old system and practices. Observing the Buddhist days is not a new thing at all.”
During a meeting with members of the Interfaith Friendship Group in Rangoon last July, President Thein Sein said that protection should be given to freedom of religion and freedom of expression so that democracy in Burma would flourish.#