Rhododendron News Volume XI, No. I, January – February 2008

Rhododendron News


Volume XI, No. I, January – February 2008

Chin Human Rights Organization


Table of Contents:




Cross-Border Aid Needed to Address Humanitarian Crisis in Chinland


Human Rights Situations in Chinland:


Forced Labor for Bootlegging

Illegal Funds Collected from Chin Public

Unfair Tax and Restriction Imposed on Chin Farmers

Money Extorted to Finance Militia Training

Town Residents Forced to Buy and Plant Tea Seed

Corrupt Forestry Officer Imposed Excessive Fines on Villagers

Officials Auctioned Off Seized Goods for Personal Profit

Extortion Rampage

New Recruitment Drive Targets High School Students

Burmese police recruit under age youth in western Burma


Refugee Situation


45 Chin Perished at Sea

Rela Burns Down Chin Camps in Malaysia

Local Youth Assault Chin Asylum Seeker in New Delhi


News & Events


CHRO Begins Annual Advocacy Mission

Total Oil Urged to Pull Out of Burma

Chin Marks National Day with Protest

Burmese Regime Bans Chin Historical Day

Ethnic Alliance Warns Constitutional Boycott


Facts & Argument


Burma’s Referendum: Why Indonesia Matters


Back Cover Poem

Once Voice (Chin national Day)





Cross-Border Aid Needed to Address Worsening Humanitarian Crisis in Chinland



Rising cost of living and arbitrary and repressive policies of the ruling military junta are driving Chin people into deeper and deeper humanitarian crisis, causing serious alarm of hunger and famine for communities across Burma’s western frontier.


Latest information from inside Chin State indicates that more and more communities are finding themselves adversely affected by rising cost of living, arbitrary and excessive tax, forced labor programs and other repressive policies of the State Peace and Development Council. In many parts of Chin State, hunger and famine are becoming a reality for the first time since the army takeover 19 years ago as previously self-sufficient communities are no longer able to make ends meet.


Ordinary Chin families such as farmers who account for the majority and make up the backbone of local economy are worst affected by the crisis due to various restrictions and bans, as well as excessive taxes imposed on them by military authorities. In parts of Falam township of northern Chin State farmers are completely banned from clearing new forests for the 2008 cultivation season while imposition of restrictive rules and arbitrary taxes are preventing other communities such as those in the southern township of Matupi from continuing to make their sole and traditional means of livelihood.


Additionally, many rural communities are bracing for, or are already dealing with, the rapid boom of crop-eating rodent population with the flowering of bamboos, which has historically driven local communities into disastrous famine every half a century or so.


Urban residents such as those living in major towns are facing similar economic crisis. Rising commodity prices and living costs, compounded by various forms of arbitrary and often excessive taxes are taking a toll on Chin families. Apart from excessively large sums exacted for property and municipal taxes, families are required to pay as much as 30, 000 Kyats per household per year in order to be exempt from government-sponsored forced labor programs such as portering and construction related to development and military purposes. This does not include other ‘donations’ that each family must pay on a regular basis such as for the cost of militia and vigilante training conducted by the army in towns and villages across the state. In total, each family ends up paying as much as 300,000 to 400, 000 Kyats to the military government.


Despite increasing evidence of humanitarian crises nationwide and the crippling economy, Burma’s military regime still refuses to acknowledge the extent of the country’s problems. The expulsion late last year of Charles Petrie, the head of the United Nations Office in Burma who had voiced concerns over the unfolding crises and the various restrictions on, and official interference with the activities of international humanitarian agencies working in the country, are cases in point.


Unfortunately for the Chins, their isolated region lies beyond the reach of very few international aid agencies that are currently allowed to work in Burma. Chin State is designated as a grey zone where insurgency is active, and thus remains restricted. With virtually no help flowing from international agencies from inside Burma, Chin people can expect little help from the outside world to help cope with what is a dire humanitarian situation.


Most obviously, recent announcements by the military junta to hold a constitutional referendum and new elections are not going to have any positive impacts on the humanitarian situations, nor are they likely to reverse the worsening trend of human miseries and rights abuses in Chin State.


In such a situation, it is urgent and imperative that the international community and aid organizations find an alternative way to deliver the much needed humanitarian help to the Chin people, including by cross-border aid delivery from neighboring India in order to avert what clearly will be a disastrous consequence.


Human Rights Situations in Chinland



Forced Labor for Bootlegging

18 January 2008


An army officer is running a bootlegging operation for personal profits by forcing Chin villagers to transport and sell liquors to India’s Mizoram State, a local villager told Chin Human Rights Organization.


Light Infantry Battalion 304’s Major Thein Win Myint, camp commander at Sabawngte village has been making a personal fortune from his illegal business since the beginning of January 2008. The local source says that up to four and five villagers have routinely been forced to carry as many as 40 to 60 bottles of liquor from Rezua town to Sabawngte village where they were sold for three to four times the market price. Villagers are also made to transport a portion of the liquor to across the border into India’s Mizoram.

A bottle of liquor fetches as much as 200 in Indian currency in Mizoram where it is a dry state.


“It is very unfair that not only are we (the villlagers) forced in the bootlegging business without any pay, anyone selling liquors is arrested and fined by the army,” says the local source.


The bootlegging operation involving forced labor exacted from villagers has been ongoing in the area since the beginning of last year. Amy units stationed in the area such as LIB 274 based in Lailenpi camp has been making illegal profits from bootlegging since early 2007.


Illegal Funds Collected from Chin Public


19 January 2008


Residents of Haka, Chin State’s capital, are to ‘donate’ 500 Kyats per household to pay for the cost of training 42 ‘fire personnel,’ according to an order from Major General Hung Ngai, Chairman of Chin State Peace and Development Council.


Each of the six wards/localities of Haka is required to send in seven trainees along with the expenses needed for the training: about 2000 Kyats a day for each trainee.


Collection of the ‘donation’ started on 16 December 2007, and the training was conducted through the month of January 2008. “There are at least 5,000 households in Haka and it’s too obvious what the authorities are collecting is much more than the actual cost because everyone knows how much 500 Kyats per household translates to,” a local resident said, stressing that officials any excess money would most likely go to individual officials.


Fire fighters are routinely used by the military junta not only for their obvious purpose but more importantly as vigilante or local militia.



Unfair Tax and Restriction Imposed on Chin Farmers


8 February 2008


Military authorities have imposed unfair tax and unreasonable restriction on farmers in two townships putting further hardship on already poor communities whose sole survival depends on slash and burn cultivation, an unnamed local source told Chin Human Rights Organization.


While slash and burn cultivation is entirely banned in most parts of Falam Township for the 2008 new cultivation season, farming communities in Matupi Township of southern Chin State are being levied 2000 Kyats per household along with 12 tins of paddy upon harvest.


The order which was issued by Colonel Zaw Myint Oo, Commander of Tactical II Command based in Matupi town, came into effect in November 2007.


Local authorities have already begun collecting money from the farmers as of 2007 year-end, prompting many farmers to second guess the worth of cultivating this season. However, more families are left with no choice but to pay the levy as they have no other alternative means of survival. Among these families are residents of Ngala, Lawngban, Khuabawi and Sanbawng localities in Matupi town.


Meanwhile in Falam Township, communities affected by the complete ban are taking desperate measures by reportedly selling off what little they have left such as chicken and pigs in order to come up with enough money to bribe local forestry officials in the hope of getting permission to cultivate this season.


In imposing the ban, military authorities have insisted that the slash and burn agricultural method is not sustainable practice without actually offering or supporting other ‘sustainable’ alternative programs for their survival.


Money Extorted to Finance Militia Training


18 February 2008


Burmese military authorities in Tamu Township of Sagain Division are arbitrarily collecting money from local residents in order to finance militia training slated for January 2008. According to a local resident, each household is to pay 500 Kyats for the purpose.


Village Peace and Development Council Chairman Ko Myo Chit has ordered each locality/ward to send in one able trainee to the training along with 500 Kyats per household in each the locality.


Although the funds have been collected, the militia training itself is yet to be conducted as of mid February, and local residents suspect that local officials have used the training as a pretext to collect money without authorization from higher authorities.


Town Residents Forced to Buy and Plant Tea Seed


19 February 2008


Residents of Thantlang town of northern Chin State are being threatened with confiscation of their private gardens unless they plant tea seed in their gardens, which they must buy from local officials. Following directives from higher authorities U Lai To, Village PDC Chairman issued the order to this effect.


Since the beginning of January 2008, Chairmen of each local PDC have instructed every household in their locality to buy one bag of tea seed for 4000 Kyats. The purchase is compulsory for all residents owning a garden in Thantlang town but only half them have made the purchase so far as of late February.


Tea seeds are shipped from out of State in Burma proper and local authorities are responsible for distribution in their respective areas. About four fifth of the 1500 households of Thantlang town own a garden and they are complaining about the unfair order.


Corrupt Forestry Officer Imposed Excessive Fines on Villagers


19 February 2008


New house owners were the latest target of a corrupt forestry officer who made illegal profits by extorting them money, a local villager reported to CHRO. Siang Ling, Thantlang Township Forestry Officer, imposed excessive fines on two villagers for ‘unauthorized’ use of timbers for construction of their houses. Za Zin of Tlangpi village was fined 30,000 Kyats while a villager from Van Zang was fined 100,000 Kyats for using timbers to build their houses.


In late January 2008, the forestry officer was traveling to Tlangpi and Tlanglo villages when he came across people sawing wood planks for building new houses in the village. The owners were immediately ordered to pay thousands of Kyats for unauthorized use of timbers.


As the officer traveled around the area, he collected 500 Kyats from each household in every village for their use of firewood and an additional 200 Kyats for cultivating in a shifting farmland.



Officials Auctioned Off Seized Goods for Personal Profit


13 December 2007


U Kyaw Maung, the head of Revenue Dept. for Teddim Township of northern Chin State, on November 22, put on an auction to sell goods his department had seized from cross-border traders. The goods included imported tobaccos Indian brand named 92 Zarda fetching up to 40 million Kyats, a local source told Chin Human Rights Organization.


Three jeep loads of goods containing 120 packages of tobacco were seized from four cross-border traders by a joint force of Township Revenue Department, Military Intelligence and Burmese police. The vehicles carrying the goods were also seized and kept as public property for use by State authorities.


A package of Indian-made tobacco (Commonly used as an ingredient for chewing betel nuts) is priced at 300,000 Kyats on the market rate. The 120 packages were seized as ownerless and the traders who attempted to reclaim the goods were silenced with threats of arrest.


A trader said such seizures are specifically targeted at Chin traders and Burman tobacco importers have never had their goods seized by authorities.



Extortion Rampage


5 December 2007


Burmese army and police units on patrol along Teddim and Rih Sub-town routes of northern Chin State routinely extort money from traders passing through the route, according to CHRO source.


On November 22, 2007, a trader from Teddim town who was carrying plastic packages with 50 horses to Mizoram, India was arrested at Laitui village by Burmese police who asked him to pay 500 Kyat per horse. Going ahead on his journey eight miles away to Lentlang village, he was again asked to pay the same amount of money by a Burmese army unit from Light Infantry Battalion 269.


When he told the soldiers he had already paid up the money to policemen earlier in the journey, the army unit commander said “we are not concerned with the police, if you do not pay the money, both your property and you will be arrested and put in the jail”.


For fear of such threat, the trader gave the money he was being asked for. Traders risk being extorted, sometimes twice on a single trip, of at least 100, 000 to 200, 000 Kyats to the army and police every trip. In addition, they usually end up paying 50, 000 to 100, 000 Kyats on their return depending on their luck in meeting with Burmese soldiers.



New Recruitment Drive Targets High School Students


7 December 2007


Starting from October 2007, Colonel Zaw Myint Oo, head of Military Tactical Command II based in Matupi town, southern Chin State had restarted recruitment drive targeting high school students in the area. But the ‘recruitment’ is involuntary and some high school students were already conscripted into the army against their will, forcing many students to hide in their house instead of attending school, a local reported to CHRO.


The new recruitment program took effect in the first week of October 2007. Colonel Zaw Myint Oo’s order required that each ward/locality in Matupi town contribute five able people for military service.


Army battalions such as LIB 140 are already on the prowl for new recruits in Matupi and surrounding villages. At least three high school students were arrested in the first week of November.


The three were later released upon intervention by their teachers who pleaded with the army commander. The army commander agreed their release after making assurance that the whole incident will be kept a secret. The students were snatched by the soldiers on their way to visit their native village for a weekend to fetch ration supplies – a trip high school students hailing from outlying villages have to make on occasions.


The students however, had to spend overnight at the army camp before being released where they were repeatedly persuaded to join the army by promising them bright prospects if they agreed to join the army.



Burmese police recruit under age youth in western Burma

Khonumthung News

February 9, 2008 – In the midst of the world body the United Nations accusing the Burmese military rulers of using child soldiers, comes reports of several youths including minors from Chin state and Arakan state, western Burma being recruited in the police force, a retired police officer said on condition of anonymity.

Recently, police officers from Paletwa Township in Chin state and Kyautdaw Township in Arakan state instructed each constable to recruit local youths for police service. If the constable failed to do so, Kyat 4,000 would be cut from his monthly salary.

Afraid of losing their salary, the constables allegedly tricked and persuaded local youths to join the police. They were conned into believing that the salary would be good and their status would improve. Among the recruited youth, the majority are said to be minors.

“Most of the recruited youth are under 18. They could not continue their studies as they are from poor families,” a retired police officer said.

“Taking advantage of school dropouts the authorities frequently engage them as porters to carry army rations and ammunition while the constables persuade them that joining the police force will not only free them from being a porter but it will also be a guarantee for better life,” he added.

Moreover, some youths who were arrested under the emergency Act, (an Act the authorities in Burma frequently used to remain in power) and forced to join the police force.

“There are around 30 minors from my native town who have been forced to join the police force,” a local in Chin state said.

The police recruiting camps in Paletwa and Kyautdaw have sent the recruited youths to police training camps in lower Burma. – Khonumthung…


Refuge Situations


45 Chin Perished at Sea


By Victor Khambil


December 21, 2007-Kuala Lumpur: A small boat carrying 99 ethnic Chin from Myanmar accidentally sunk into the sea near Koktoung which located at the southernmost borderline of Thai and Myanmar on December 20, 2007 after colliding with a huge fishing boat at night. According to available information so far received, 45 Chin nationals comprising several children perished or still missing in the most ever devastating tragedy in the Chin history.


Most of the victims are Chin refugees heading toward Malaysia to join with their families in Kuala Lumpur , Malaysia .


According to eyewitness, a boat carrying 99 refugees was hit by a huge fishing boat during the speed on the sea at night. Since the boat was not sunk suddenly into the sea after it was hit, 44 refugees on boat were able to climb over to the fishing boat which stopped near the sinking boat.


The worsening political situation in Myanmar is a factor which forced thousands of ethnic refugees out of Myanmar especially the Chin people who are struggling under the torturous rule of military regime in Myanmar . Most of the victims who perished in the tragedy are from Thantlang township of Chin State.


According to the Chin Human Rights Organization (CHRO), the Chins who are mostly Christians, in Buddhist dominated country, are persecuted due to their believe in democracy and Christianity and also for their ethnic background, by the Burmese military regime.


There are roughly about 20, 000 Chin refugees in Malaysia who are seeking asylum at United Nations High Commissioner for Refugee (UNHCR) Liaison office in Kuala Lumpur.


As Malaysia is not a signatory of 1951 UN Refugee Convention, most refugees in Malaysia are facing almost daily arrests and detention as illegal immigrants. Up to this date there are still more than 700 Chin refugees and asylum seekers who are in immigration detention camps in Malaysia including children and women. Furthermore, many of the male refugees are not only detained but punished with two strokes of canings at their buttocks in prison plus their sentences as illegal immigrants which is the minimum of three months inside jails. After several weeks, most detainees were deported to Thai border where they were victimized again by drug addict human smugglers especially younger women.


According to Paul coordinator for Kuala Lumpur based Chin Refugee Committee in Malaysia , the factor behind the refugees who are fleeing to cross international border to escape from Myanmar is none other than the military regime who dare even shot dead several monks in September 2007.


(Victor Khambil, CHRO refugee issue coordinator, file the report from Kuala Lumpur )



Rela Burns Down Chin Camps in Malaysia

25 January 2008


Putra Jaya, Malaysia: At least 75 Chin refugees and asylum seekers are now homeless and distraught after government-authorized forces in Malaysia burned down their jungle shelters earlier this week in Putra Jaya. This is the latest of many well-documented acts of abuse committed by the authorities against the refugee community in Malaysia.


The raid began around 7 am on 20 January when more than 30 RELA members violently stormed the make-shift campsite and burned it to the ground. The material possessions of the camp residents- plastic sheeting for shelter, pots and pans for cooking, donated articles of clothing and food rations, and Christian Bibles- were reduced to ashes. For a community already living on the margins of survival, the consequences are devastating.


“Nothing is left for any of them. Nobody knows what they should do, where they should go for shelter, how they can overcome this…They are left with nothing,” reported one Chin leader who recently visited the residents and their burned out campsite.


For years, the Chins have taken shelter in the jungles surrounding Kuala Lumpur to escape the harassment and abuse by RELA security forces. Night-time neighborhood raids occur regularly in Kuala Lumpur’s urban areas. Although in hiding, the Chins living in the jungle are not immune to such abuses. Over the course of four years, the camp in Putra Jaya had been raided three times by RELA.


According to the camp leader, “None of the raids in the past compare to this. We are empty-handed now. We lost everything- no cooking pots, no food, no clothes, no hope.”


The raid was conducted by Malaysia’s controversial RELA or the People’s Volunteer Corps, an untrained, volunteer civilian unit with security enforcement powers. RELA has come under increasing criticism by members of the international community and human rights organizations for reckless conduct and abusive actions during raids. Despite such criticism, RELA is slated to take over all of Malaysia’s immigration facilities during this next year. The transition of authority has already started in some facilities, raising concerns among the refugee community who fear the takeover will lead to increased abuses with greater impunity.




Hundreds of thousands of Chins have been forced to leave their homes in Burma to escape severe ethnic and religious persecution committed by the military regime of Burma. They arrive in Malaysia in search of some sense of security. Currently, there are over 23,000 Chin asylum seekers and refugees living in Malaysia. Instead of finding safety, the Chin people are the constant target of harassment, arrest, detention, and deportation by the Malaysian authorities. In addition, they are unable to work, receive an education, access healthcare services, or find acceptable living accommodations. With the UNHCR registration process closed since July 2005, obtaining refugee status or any protective documents from the UNHCR is difficult. As a result, life for the Chins in Malaysia is full of abuses and uncertainties.


For more information on the Chin and their situation in Malaysia, please visit Chin Human Rights Organization (CHRO) on the web at or contact Amy Alexander at [email protected] e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it or +


Local Youth Assault Chin Asylum Seeker in New DelhiKhonumthung News

February 11, 2008 – Local youth on February 9 at night attacked and injured an asylum seeker from Chin state, Burma in New Delhi, capital of India.

The incident occurred in Jeevan Park, Uttamnagar, west New Delhi.

A local youth called Ashu on Saturday at around 11 pm reportedly snatched Maung Kung (28), a Chin from Burma, from Pankha Road in Jeevan Park and forcibly took him to a dark corner.

After a few minutes another local youth was said to have joined Ashu and together they assaulted Maung Kung for almost an hour. They also demanded Rs. 10,000 from him.

“When I did not give them anything they took my temporary UN card and Rs. 860 from my pocket,” Maung Kung with his lower lip swollen said.

Fortunately, some Chin Refugee Committee and Chin community leaders rushed to the place where the incident took place and rescued Maung Kung after another Chin refugee who was passing by saw the incident and informed them.

The CRC and community leaders tried to stop the local youth who claimed that Maung Kung owed them money. Maung Kung denied ever having met them.

“How could I owe them money as I don’t even know who they are,” Maung Kung said.

CRC leaders lodged a complaint at the Uttam Nagar police station as the local youth kept on trying to attack Maung Kung.

The police arrived at the spot and took Maung Kung to a nearby hospital as his mouth and nose were bleeding.

The police arrested Ashu and his friend but later released them as they reportedly confessed to the police that they mistook Maung Kung for another person, according to CRC.

The police suggested that the victim register a case at the police station.

“The police told us that only after the case has been registered, can they book the accused,” Mr. Jeremiah, president of the CRC said.

The victim, Maung Kung, is still not clear under which section, he should register a complaint.

“It was a sort of attempt to murder him,” Mr. Jeremiah was quoted as saying.

Meanwhile a leader from the Chin community also accused Ashu and his friend of kidnapping him.

Maung Kung is from Hakha, the capital of Chin state in Burma. He fled to India in 2005.

He applied for refugee status to the United Nation High Commissioner for Refugees office in New Delhi. His application has been pending with the UNHCR office. – Khonumthung.


News and Events



CHRO Begins Annual Advocacy Mission

Chinland Guardian

January 9, 2008


A delegation of Chin Human Rights Organization (CHRO) is in Washington D.C this week for annual advocacy trip that usually starts at the beginning of the year.


Victor Biak Lian, CHRO’s member of board of directors and Ms. Amy Alexander the organization’ s regional advocacy officer has a series of meetings in the U.S Capitol meeting with National Endowment for Democracy, the U.S Department of State Bureau for Population, Migration and Refugee, and Bureau for International Religious Freedom, and the U.S Department of State Burma Desk.


Refugee Council of United States of America (RCUSA) hosted CHRO delegation by organizing a meeting where all members of RCUSA participated. Ms. Amy Alexander presented update situation of Chin refugees. She raised the security and humanitarian crisis faced by Chin refugees from Burma in India and Malaysia that needed to be addressed immediately.


Part of the mission is to highlight human rights and political situation among the Chin people after the popular “saffron revolution”. The CHRO has just published a report “Action, Words, and Prayer: The Chin Solidarity for Protest in Burma” that highlights the active role played by ethnic Chin during the protest against the military junta State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), and the aftermath crackdown in Burma.


Two elected Chins MPs Pu Cin Sian Thang and Pu Thawng Kho Thang were arrested by the SPDC during the protest in September for their active role in the demonstrations. Several Chin students got injuries during the crackdown and many more are fleeing the country becoming refugees in neighboring countries due to their active role in the protest.


When asked how the advocacy trip is going, Mr. Victor Biak Lian responded “We have a very successful trip here in Washington DC , apart from meeting with the NED and different bureau from the State Department, and other agencies we also have a chance to meet with Chin community in Maryland and Washington DC areas. We will continue our mission to meet with Chin Community in Indiana , Michigan and California ”.


Salai Bawi Lian Mang, director of CHRO said that “we did pretty good last year in terms of advocacy and I think we have a very good start this year but we need to do more around our neighboring countries, and inside the country. We are going to do that”.


CHRO had a very successful advocacy works in 2007 meeting with United Kingdom’s Minister for International Trade and Foreign Affairs, Malaysia Cabinet Minister for Prime Minister Office, several Parliamentarians from United Kingdom, European Union, Foreign Affairs Department of Germany, meeting with senior officials from National Security Council at the White House, State Department and Briefing the US Congressional staff and most of all bringing two Parliamentarians from the UK to India-Burma border.


The CHRO delegation is scheduled to meet with Chin community in Indiana and Michigan on Thursday and Friday.


“Total Oil’ Urged to Pull Out of Burma

By Van Biak Thang

Chinland Guardian


London, UK – 01 February, 2008: A handful of Burmese and British protesters braved the cold weather of London, UK urging Total Oil to pull out of Burma. Holding placards and banners saying ‘Total Disgrace – Free Burma’, the group actively chanted slogans protesting against the French oil giant in front of one of the company’s petrol stations near Kilburn tube station yesterday.


“This has been going on since October, 2007 from place to place including Total London Headquarter. We are doing this because a western investor in Burma, Total, refuses to pull out of Burma. We want to put pressure on Total to respect the voices and wishes of Burma’s democratic movements. And we want Total to pull out of Burma rather than helping to keep the military regime in power,” a local resident, Daniel Viesnik of told Chinland Guardian.


The participants, wrapped up well yet shaken by a very chilly wind, handed out leaflets to the passers-by. Total Oil is the fourth largest oil company in the world and one of the biggest foreign investors in Burma; it is in a joint venture with Burma’s dictatorship in the Yadana gas project in southern Burma, according to the leaflet.


“I want to stand shoulder to shoulder with the Burmese people to use our freedom to promote democracy in Burma. Also, I strongly recommend more British people to get involved in this cause,” said a British participant and photographer, who asked not to be named.


The ongoing campaign supported by various organisations including Burma Campaign UK last month called on the company to stop giving the brutal military junta hundreds of millions of dollars as the largest western supporter of the military regime. “The existence of Total in Burma profits the junta enormously. The regime uses the money for buying weapons. And they use these weapons to kill the Burmese people instead of protecting and helping them,” said Ko Htein Lin, an 88 Generation student, wearing a red NLD-logo headband.


“Each and every one of us, the Burmese, has got a duty to do in this cause. We should stand together in support of giving pressure to Total Oil, a major financial supporter of Burma’s dictatorship,” said a computer student, Myint Wai, holding a placard that reads “TOTALitarian Oil Fuelling the oppression in Burma”.


The campaign happens on Wednesday and Thursday every week.


With more than a population of 50 millions, Burma has been ruled for decades by one of the most brutal dictatorships in the world. The regime has been condemned and accused of various human rights violations including systematic use of forced labour, rape against ethnic women and conscription of child soldiers.


Chins Mark National Day with Protest


By Plato Van Rung Mang

Chinland Guardian


February 20, 2008 – New Delhi: More than 800 Chins and local supporters took to the streets of downtown New Delhi today to commemorate the 60th anniversary of Chin National Day, which has not been allowed to celebrate in their homeland by Burma’s military junta.


‘We want to celebrate Chin National Day, We oppose Burma ’s sham referendum, we need Indian’s support,” they chanted as they marched through downtown New Delhi .


Mr. Lal Rem Sanga, the President of Chin Students’ Union (CSU) said, “We want to show the Indian public and government the suffering of our people under the Burmese military regime and to show the unity and determination of our people to preserve identity.”


In a memorandum to the Prime Minister and the President of India, the Chin community calls for India ’s principled support and action for democratization in Burma .


Surendra Mohan (former Indian MP), and Shri Achar Yeshi Phuntsok (MP), Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile, were among prominent persons attending the commemoration who reiterated their support for the Chin and that of the Burmese people as a whole.


Chin National Day emerged out of a historic Chin assembly in Falam town that abolished centuries-old feudal administrative system in favor of democracy in 1948. It has since been recognized as an official holiday in the Union of Burma. But Burma ’s military regime has now banned any celebration of the occasion unless it is held as a ‘State’ day in a blatant attempt to rid of what has become a symbol of Chin identity.


Burmese regime bans Chin historical day

Khonumthung News

February 20, 2008 – The Burmese military regime has ordered people in Chin state, Burma not to commemorate the Chin’s historic day by the name of “Chin Nation Day”.

Over five hundred Chins in exile held a demonstration against the Burmese junta on the street of Jantar Mantar near Parliament in New Delhi, India on Chin National Day falls on 20 of February. (Photo – Khonumthung)

The 60th anniversary of Chin National Day falls today.

Chin National Day is the day on which the people in Chin state agreed to abolish the inherited chieftainship system and practice a democratic system at a national assembly held in Falam town in Chin state on February 20, 1948.

However, the democratic system failed to take off in Chin society after the military junta seized power in 1962.

Today, the regime did not allow the people in Hakha Township, capital of Chin state to hold the national day as the Chin Nation Day and instead told them to call it the “Chin Culture Day”, according to locals in Chin State.

“You all know the situation in Burma, if the regime doesn’t it want we can’t do anything,” said a local on condition of anonymity.

Moreover, the authorities from Sagaing Division also prohibited celebrating “Chin National Day” in Kalay University campus this year. In previous years, the Kalay university students were allowed to hold their national day function in the campus.

Meanwhile, the Chin Literature and Culture Committee in Rangoon said to have celebrated its historical day in City Lion in Rangoon today. – Khonumthung.


Ethnic Alliance Warns Constitutional Boycott


Chinland Guardian


The Ethnic Nationalities Council, the largest ethnic grouping has called on Burma’s military junta to form a broad-based ‘Constitutional Review Commission’ that will review two separate sets of constitutional drafts that have been separately prepared by the military and opposition groups.


In a statement issued on February 29, the ENC calls on the military junta to invite all major stakeholders in Burma’s political scene to new a constitutional consultation process towards finding a negotiated solution to the country’s problem. The ENC however, acknowledges the necessity of making a compromise and concessions on the part of all parties.


Among other proposals, the ENC wants any constitutional negotiation to include questions of the role of the armed forces, the right of ethnic nationalities and a federal constitutional arrangement.


“For the sake of peace and stability not only in Burma but also in the region, we request the international community, especially our neighboring countries, including China, India and ASEAN, to mediate a tripartite negotiation among the SPDC, the 1990 election winning party led by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and ethnic nationalities,” the statement reads.


The ENC however warns of a boycott should the military regime fails to meet its demands.


Facts & Argument


Burma’s Referendum: Why Indonesia Matters

By Salai Chan Cung Uk

23 February 2008


It came as no surprise when Burma ‘s military junta announced in early February that it is holding a referendum in May to adopt a new constitution that will eventually pave a way for a transition to democracy. The timing of the announcement is no coincidence either as the regime is desperate to show ‘progress’ towards political reform ahead of planned visit by UN envoy Ibrahim Gambari who has made it clear to the junta the expectation of the United Nations Security Council and the international community.


If anything, the generals have achieved little in convincing the world that its impending referendum in May 2008 and elections slated for 2010 would result in a genuine and participatory political process. In fact, the junta has failed even to convince its closest neighbors, let alone the rest of the international community.


Significantly, Indonesia has quickly expressed serious doubts as to whether new elections or constitutional referendum would produce any substantive change while the country’s main opposition groups and ethnic forces remain shut out of the political process. No other ASEAN governments have made similar statements but what is so significant is that the opinion of Indonesia matters more than anyone else given that the regime’s draft constitution was modeled on Indonesian constitution under Suharto.


It was no secret that for the military regime Burma ‘s aspired constitution was inspired by the Indonesian model, which allows a strong centralized and military-dominated government. In fact, state-run media in Burma regularly proudly depicted Indonesian constitution as the goal of the long-running National Convention. But state press suddenly kept silence when the popular uprising ousted the Suharto regime in Indonesia in 1998.


So if anyone can give advice to and comment on Burma ‘s current draft constitution with authority and credibility, it is the Indonesian people who have experienced and lived through the same constitution for more than three decades. Adopting the military’s draft constitution would thus only mean taking Burma to four decades back in time when Suharto instituted an authoritarian regime by ensuring ‘army supremacy’ in politics as part of his ‘New Order’ slogan.


Even putting aside its undemocratic nature and unilateralist and exclusionist drafting process, which has been the source of widespread international criticisms, Burma ‘s draft constitution is still fundamentally flawed in that all democratic freedoms and basic human rights that are essential in any democratic society, are made conditional and whimsical. The overarching power vested in the executive can take away even the most fundamental of human rights.


What is evident is that individual freedoms and liberties will continue to be curtailed and violated in the absence of a genuine democratic constitution. The international community, including ASEAN countries must continue to insist on an “open, transparent, inclusive and participatory process” towards a transition to democracy.


After all, the end goal of Burma ‘s new constitution should be to achieve sustainable peace and prosperity through NATIONAL RECONCILIATION, and not a mere mechanism to install a new regime. Any deviation from this goal is certainly going to fail to address the fundamental problems that have plagued Burma for the last half a century.


Burma ‘s future now hangs in the balance. It is pivotal that ASEAN and other Burma ‘s neighbors especially China and India follow suit and stand with Indonesia in demanding that the political process is both inclusive and participatory. For without any negotiated solution lasting peace will continue to be a dream rather than a reality.


Back Cover Poem

One Voice (Chin National Day)

Van Biak Thang

Chinland Guardian

06 February 2008


No longer could the Chins stand the colony

Nor could they bear the hands of nobility;

Undaunted yet united they made their ways

Towards liberty they thus yearned in one voice.


Despite steep mountains and deep vales in between,

Days and nights on foot they traversed to the scene;

No rains and storms stopped their long journey and choice;

Together the Chins sought and fought in one voice.


Many a hand had tried but failed to part them

In course of seeking their national anthem;

Many years ago today penned a Chin song

Which in one voice they all sang along so strong.


Years of struggles for equal rights and freedom

To the Chins begot a national custom –

Chin National Day, brought up in harmony,

Marking the strength of one voice in unity.


Today ought the Chins to heed the tapestry

That history wove into a net of beauty,

Intertwined in the spirit of brotherhood,

In one voice firmly and steadily they stood.



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