Chin civil society meet ahead of Panglong conference
24 August 2016 — Representatives of Chin civil society organizations across Burma gathered in Rangoon from 22 to 24 August, discussing issues that will be prepared for the upcoming 21st Panglong Conference.
The meeting focused its discussion on political, economic, land and natural resources, security, and social issues facing Chin communities in their respective areas involving Arakan and Chin States, and Magwe, Pegu, Sagaing, Mandalay, Rangoon and Irrawaddy Regions.
Ba Thein, a retired Chin representative from Arakan State, said: “This has not only brought a Chin family together but also got us to know each other better by sharing our issues. As we talk, people in villages are still suffering and a lot of them are not even aware of what we are discussing here. This is still our picture, our lives and our situation.”
A leader of the Zomi Youth Association said that the forum served as a good platform for communities and civil society as it was clean from religious or tribal or political bias and that it had created a more positive environment for the Chin as a whole.
The event entitled ‘Chin CSOs forum for Union Peace Conference – 21st Century Panglong’ welcomes the nationwide Union conference as a step forward in the process of finding solutions to the country’s crisis of over 60 years.
However, some participants raise concerns about the government’s move in rushing the process, giving civil society insufficient time of period to make a concerted effort to properly prepare for the Union conference.
The three-day meeting ended with the formation of a new coordination team that will be tasked with taking necessary action on advocating with different Chin stakeholders in the peace process and ensuring that the issues raised are included on the agenda at the national level discussion.
Mai Thin Yu Mon, Country Program Coordinator of the Chin Human Rights Organization that co-facilitated the forum, said: “There are many more issues facing each of our communities than what we discuss here. How we move on from here is still another challenge but we hope that all of these issues will be taken into serious consideration at the Union level meeting.”
A statement released at the end of the event said that the issues would be taken to the Union conference following a collaboration with the 21st Century Panglong CSOs forum.
The statement put stress on the urgency to end ongoing conflict in ethnic areas, including Paletwa township of Chin State, where clashes between the Burma Army and the Arakan Army were until recently reported. #