Questions over plan to construct pagoda in Sami
27 February 2014: Local leaders are totally bewildered by sudden activity recently begun to construct a new pagoda in Sami town, Paletwa Township, Chin State.
An organizing committee for the Sami Township said that a group of people from Arakan State had started construction work on about six acres of land reserved for an extension of No. 2 Ward.
In a letter given to the Khonumthung news, they said that the workers were using some machines in land clearing and preparing the building site without consultation with them.
“When we ask the workers about the ongoing activities, they don’t say anything to us. The place is on a hilltop overlooking the town,” added the Sami committee.
They added in their letter that they didn’t know what to do and were not sure if the Chin State government should be informed.
With an area of 3,127.04 square miles, Sami was granted a new status of sub-township in an official ceremony inaugurated in June last year by Chief Minister Hung Ngai.
The newly upgraded town of Sami is still in the process of development and town planning involving construction of government office buildings and houses.
The letter indicated that the official agreement between the local committee and the State government does not include issues related to construction of Buddhist infrastructure in the new area.
A leader from Paletwa town told Chinland Guardian that the vast majority of residents in Sami are Chin and Christian.
One of the committee members said: “We are excited about the new development in Sami area, and are happy and hopeful for our children’s future. But now that we have seen things happening like this, we feel like we are haunted by fear from the past during the military regimes.”
In Chin State, Christians still face difficulties in obtaining permission to construct religious buildings.
A Chin Christian pastor from Thantlang said that their current church buildings are registered and constructed as private houses, not as religious premises, adding: “That’s the only way we can have. It means that the authorities can take action against us any time they like.”
A 2012 report by the Chin Human Rights Organization shows an increase in the number of Buddhist infrastructure across Chin State while Chin Christians face restrictions.
Chinland Guardian is unable to reach the local authorities in Sami for comment.#