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Hornbills and Powder Horns: Chin State Resists

November 11th, 2021  •  Author:   Project Maje  •  50 minute read

Note: This October 2021 report covers the period February-September 2021 and provides background on the events of that time. During October 2021 Chin State continued to be a war zone, as Myanmar coup army convoys including EE-9 Cascavel tanks drove into the State from north and south. Despite heavy losses from anti-coup defending forces, those convoys committed significant crimes against local civilians, including the burning of hundreds of buildings in Thantlang. This act of arson was condemned internationally and across Burma (Myanmar) with many warnings of a situation resembling the genocidal attacks on Rohingyas of north Rakhine State in 2017.

CONTENTS

Introduction
Background: About Chin State
Revolution, Phase 1: Aftermath of the Coup
Revolution, Phase 2: Rise Up in Defense
Revolution, Phase 3: An Effective Resistance
List of News Articles (with links)
Interviews (with Historical Essay)

INTRODUCTION

Chin State is a mountainous region of western Burma (Myanmar) bordering Northeast India and Bangladesh. Chin State has been at the forefront of resistance to the military forces of Gen. Min Aung Hlaing’s February 1, 2021 coup d’etat regime. The resistance has developed despite Chin State being impoverished and isolated — disadvantages of economics, politics and geography which may have actually turned into advantages for an indigenous guerrilla movement.

People from the Chin State region view this uprising as having a direct continuity with their long history of resistance to oppression. In the Interview section of this report, Pu Lian Uk contributes an important essay on the deep political history of the current situation.

The situation in Chin State is just one component of the enormous uprising throughout Burma (Myanmar) during 2021. This report’s particular focus on Chin State (and adjacent areas) is within the context of all the other regions, from border to border and in the center, which are also oppressed by the coup regime and fighting back.

This report provides background and an overview of Chin State resistance to the Feb. 1, 2021 coup as a resource for journalists, organizations and other researchers. It includes interviews with six people from Chin State and a list of news articles from February-September 2021 with links.

Project Maje is an independent information project on Burma’s human rights and environmental issues, founded by Edith Mirante in 1986. Project Maje does not endorse the contents of news articles linked in this report and the opinions voiced by the interviewees are their own, not Project Maje’s.

Previous Project Maje reports regarding Chin State include:

Unsheltered Heights: Northern Chin State’s Environmental Issues (2017)
The Last Frontier: Burma’s Chinland In Transition (2012)
Rats and Kyats: Bamboo Flowering Causes a Hunger Belt in Chin State, Burma (2008)
Mithuns Sacrificed To Greed: The Forest Ox of Burma’s Chins (2004)
Ashes and Tears: Interviews with Refugees from Burma on Guam (2001)
A Chin Compendium (1997)

Many thanks to the interviewees and to the journalists of Chin State and Sagaing who are working under extremely difficult conditions. Some of their news outlets include:

Khonumthung Media Group
https://khonumthung.org/english/

Chin World Media
https://twitter.com/media_chin

The Chindwin News Agency
https://twitter.com/TheChindwin

The Tedim Post
https://twitter.com/thetedimpost?lang=en

Chinland Guardian
https://www.chinlandguardian.com/

Note: Kalay is also called Kaleymyo, Kalaymyo, or Kale. Tedim is also called Tiddim or Teddim. Sagaing Division is also called Sagaing Region. Magway is also called Magwe. Burma is also called Myanmar.

BACKGROUND: ABOUT CHIN STATE

People of Chin State speak many distinct dialects and have regional and clan identities. They share cultural and linguistic affinities with some of the peoples of northern Rakhine State, India’s Mizoram State and with some people of India’s Manipur State, as well as some Bangladesh hill peoples. Within Chin State some people prefer their local ethnic or language designation to be their primary identification (for instance, Zomi) while others prefer a “Chin” or “Chinland” identity inclusive of all the State’s indigenous peoples.

The peoples of the mountain strongholds that would become known as Chin State fought invaders from places that would become Burma under British colonization. Many also fiercely fought the British colonizers. During World War 2 these proudly independent people allied with the British in formidable raiding units: Chin Levies, Chin Hills Battalions, Chin Rifles, Sukte & Sizang Independence Army and Free Chin, repelling the Japanese invasion.

When Burma became independent after World War 2, many Chins continued to serve in the national army. For more background on the political ramifications of the Independence transition period with the demise of the promise of a federal system, see the essay by Pu Lian Uk in the Interviews section of this report. In contrast to the uprisings of ethnic groups including Karens, Shans and Kachins, there was little armed anti-government activity in Chin State, even after Gen. Ne Win’s military dictatorship seized power in Burma in 1962.

In the 1960s-70s a few small Ethnic Armed Organizations (EAOs) from Chin State were formed, including Chin Independence Army and Zomi National Front, which allied with Kachins and Karens. Other EAOs from Chin State were allied with Communists or with deposed Prime Minister U Nu’s National United Liberation Front. Chin Liberation Army, a small scale EAO, was massacred by Burma Army when returning to Chin State from Kachin training in 1976.

After Burma’s 1988 student uprising was brutally suppressed, young activists formed Chin National Front and its Chin National Army. CNF/CNA, with a pair of hornbill birds (revered in Chin culture) as their symbol, conducted sporadic raids against occupying Burma Army. Unlike many other EAOs, CNF/CNA never maintained large troop strength or held territory. Other small-scale EAOs in Chin State included Kuki National Organization and Zomi Revolutionary Army.

During the late 20th and early 21st Centuries, Myanmar (Burma presence increased in Chin State, bringing religious persecution (Chin State is largely Christian, a minority religion in Burma/Myanmar), forced labor and violence against women. Local Nongovernmental Organizations (notably Chin Human Rights Organization) and International Nongovernmental Organizations documented severe and consistent patterns of Myanmar human rights violations in Chin State.

The central government of Burma (Myanmar) has not been seen as beneficial in Chin State, which has been the poorest region and has very limited transportation links to the rest of the country. People of Chin State are dependent on rice imported or donated from elsewhere. Severe deforestation in Chin State has caused erosion and disastrous flooding, especially in 2015.

Human right abuses along with the pervasive economic and social (health, educational) neglect of Chin State compelled tens of thousands to flee Chin State to neighboring India or venture farther to Malaysia, United States, Canada, Europe, Australia and New Zealand.

Myanmar military’s troops were stationed in Chin State’s largest towns such as Hakha (state capital), Falam, Tedim and Mindat. Significantly, an enormous Myanmar military base sprawled outside of Kalay (Kale, Kalemyo) a multiethnic Sagaing Region town on the plains which has been a gateway to Chin State.

In 2012 CNF/CNA signed a negotiated ceasefire agreement with Burma (Myanmar) government, as other EAOs did. The ceasefire officially granted CNF/CNA some influence on development in the state and their own military training facility.

During 2014-15 Arakan Army (a Rakhine EAO) moved from its training base in Kachin State (northern Burma) to southern Chin State which borders Rakhine State. This remote area presented more favorable conditions for AA than northern Rakhine State which was heavily Myanmar military occupied and would be the scene of 2016 and 2017 Myanmar military’s genocidal operations against the Rohingya population. AA operating in Chin State was considered encroachment by CNF/CNA but being a much smaller EAO, CNA was unable to prevent it.

Intensive 2015-19 conflict in southern Chin State between AA and Myanmar military civilians to flee to India and Bangladesh. The areas surrounding Paletwa and Matupi became heavily militarized. Before that conflict, southern Chin State had been a peaceful area known for ecotourism around Mt. Victoria and Mindat, especially birdwatching. India had been implementing the controversial “Kaladan Multi-Modal Transit Transport Project” to include road, port and river shipping systems.

AA’s presence in southern Chin State was problematic not only because it attracted the Myanmar military’s bombardment and destruction. Frequent reports emerged from southern Chin State of kidnapping and other abuse of local non-Rakhine people by AA. Local officials and other supporters of the National League for Democracy (Burma/Myanmar’s elected majority, governing in conjunction with Myanmar military 2016-2021) were frequently targeted by AA.

REVOLUTION, PHASE 1: AFTERMATH OF THE COUP

Soon after Gen. Min Aung Hlaing’s Feb. 1, 2021 coup, protests spread throughout Burma (Myanmar) — not only in major cities but towns and even rural villages in nearly every part of the country. Government workers including medical staff went on strike nationwide, participating in the Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM.) Many Chin State workers participated in CDM. Anti-coup protest marches in Hakha, Tedim, Falam, Tonzang, Mindat and smaller towns and villages of Chin State began in early February.

During February the protest marches and rallies were frequently met with violence by police and Myanmar coup military soldiers and by March lethal force was increasingly used against nonviolent anti-coup demonstrators throughout Burma (Myanmar.) Protesters with ethnic ties to Chin State were killed in Sagaing Region, including Do Swin Kim, an 18 year old shot in the head on March 17 in Kalay.

In early March educational institutions and hospitals were occupied by Myanmar coup military troops in Chin State towns Hakha, Falam and Tedim. The forced clearing out of Hakha General Hospital (only large medical facility in the Chin State capital) in retaliation for Civil Disobedience Campaign resulted in the death of Corp. Aung Lin Htun, a Chin National Army medic who was undergoing treatment there.

While some protesters in Chin State continued to brave the streets during March-April 2021, others devised “strike” art installations such as signs posted on trees in the forests to express their opposition to the coup without a vulnerable human presence. Demonstrations in Chin State towns began to take place at night or just after dawn to decrease the chance of violent suppression, but abduction arrests and violence against protesters continued.

In early March 2021, people being sought by police or Myanmar coup military for their roles in anti-coup protests and CDM participation began escaping to Mizoram, a Northeast India state that borders Chin State. The Mizoram government announced that relief and asylum would be provided during the Burma (Myanmar) coup crisis. There appeared to be substantial popular support in Mizoram for the anti-coup movement of the neighboring country and relief aid was organized for refugees by border villagers and residents of Mizoram’s capital, Aizawl.

By March 15, 2021 a Mizoram “state home department official” informed Indian journalists that nearly 400 border-crossers were seeking refuge there. Numerous Burma (Myanmar) police officers from Chin State and elsewhere who refused to participate in violence against protesters would be among ever-increasing numbers making their way to Mizoram. Salai Lian Luai, Chief Minister of Chin State government and dozens of other politicians/officials also fled to Mizoram.

In contrast, India’s Assam State, bordering Sagaing, was officially not welcoming to refugees. Manipur State, bordering Chin State and Sagaing, initially rejected refugees from Burma (Myanmar) but in March 2021 changed policy to accept them. The situation around the Manipur border with Sagaing is complicated, with some armed Meitei ethnic factions from Manipur acting as mercenaries for Myanmar coup military, although other Meitei fighters have joined with anti-coup forces.

Elected Members of Parliament who had been prevented from taking office by the Feb. 1 coup formed a National Unity Government including other political activists. One of the highest profile officials of NUG has been Dr. Sasa, Minister of International Cooperation, who is from Matupi District, southern Chin State. Another prominent NUG cabinet member from Chin State is Dr. Lian Hmung Sakhong (of CNF) who is Minister of Federal Union Affairs. In late May 2021 CNF was the first EAO to sign a cooperation agreement with NUG.

In April 2021 an Interim Chin National Consultative Council (ICNCC) was formed which according to an ICNCC spokesperson quoted by Khonumthung Media Group, included “the Chin National Front (CNF), the Committee Representing Chin Hluttaw (CRCH), the community-based CDM supporting teams and political parties.” ICNCC intended to participate in the National Unity Government.

REVOLUTION, PHASE 2: RISE UP IN DEFENSE

Small groups of civilians and police defectors in Chin State and Sagaing began fighting back against Myanmar coup military and police in March 2021. People in Kalay town (Sagaing Region’s gateway to northern Chin State) kept up relentless protest marches in spite of extreme violence against them and proximity to the large Myanmar coup military base. An armed multiethnic anti-coup outfit, Kalay Civil Army was formed to protect a protest camp in Tahan district in late March. The need to protect protesters also inspired armed uprising in rural Sagaing with many effective hit and run ambushes of Myanmar coup military and police. Myanmar coup military retaliated with attacks on villages. The same scenario occurred in Magway (Magwe) Region bordering Chin State.

In April, Chinland Defense Force (CDF) was formed, its volunteers using their hunting skills and initially hunting equipment such as slingshots and handmade “tumee” rifles or antique guns. During World War 2, British artist Anthony Gross had described the Chin Levies and their weapons: “Turbans and blankets of their own design, the whole capped with a feather, the sign of the levies. They are armed with flint-locks — I saw the date of 1796 on one — powder horns and tinder-boxes, and dahs (a Burmese knife).”

Hunting has always been an important feature of cultures of Chin State, with displays of animal skulls, monuments featuring animals and heirloom weapons and powder horns. Traditions of warfare against outsiders or rivals are also significant. CDF claimed to have killed 100 Myanmar coup military/police in March-May and was able to seize more modern weapons.

In southern Chin State, fighting was particularly fierce between bands of CDF and Myanmar coup military troops during May-June 2021. Myanmar coup military launched attacks on Mindat town with helicopter gunships, use of civilians as “human shields” and artillery barrages. The population of the town fled, leaving it a ghost town occupied by Myanmar coup military soldiers and abandoned animals. Conflict also flared around the southern town Kanpetlet (previously a tourism destination.) Internally Displaced People (IDPs) within Chin State faced severe difficulties, especially insecurity of food supply, with relief convoys blocked by Myanmar coup military.

In the north, Chin National Organization (CNO) with its armed force Chin National Defense Force (CNDF) was formed in April 2021; operating in the Falam area it pledged to cooperate with NUG and other EAOs. Around Tamu on the India border with Sagaing, a small EAO, Kuki National Organization launched anti-coup attacks in April.

As armed anti-coup resistance increased in northern Chin State, there was some territorial conflict in May when a small pre-existing EAO, Zomi Revolutionary Army (ZRA) attacked a new People’s Defense Force (term for anti-coup armed groups) called PDF-Zoland which was allied with CDF. ZRA also attacked anti-coup fighters’ camps in June and late September in the Tedim area.

But most of the anti-coup armed groups throughout Chin State and nearby regions would operate in coordinated alliances, with regional coordination (Kanpetlet Defense Force, Chin National League, Zomi Federal Union) coalescing by August-September.

In a September interview with Khonumthung News, CNF spokesperson Pu Htet Ni commented, “Most youths from the plain [lowland] area formed the PDFs while the youths from Chin formed the Chinland Defense Force (CDF) and the Chin National Defense Force (CNDF). But the political goal of these groups is exactly the same.”

REVOLUTION, PHASE 3: AN EFFECTIVE RESISTANCE

Thousands of people from towns and villages in Chin State and Sagaing joined anti-coup armed forces over the months following May 2021. Batches of volunteers were given military training by CNF/CNA which also contributed weapons and strategic advice to the new guerrilla groups. In early July Dr. Suikar, Vice Chairman of CNF told CNN “Now it’s a kind of an urban guerrilla-type but within months it will transform into a conventional civil war.”

While armed resistance continued to build in Chin State’s mountains, the highly contagious Delta Variant of COVID-19 entered the picture. Back in in March 2020 one of the first known COVID-19 cases in Burma (Myanmar) had been identified in Keptel village in northern Chin State’s Tedim Township. In late May 2021 Northern Chin State (Tonzang and Falam Townships) was an apparent entry point for COVID-19 Delta Variant which then appeared in Kalay. Delta Variant COVID soon spread through the entire country.

Chin State’s healthcare system, already substandard, was in disarray with medical staff under arrest, in hiding or having fled since the coup and hospitals occupied by Myanmar coup military. The virus spread unchecked. By July 1, 2021 Chin World Media posted, “Thirty-five Christian religious leaders have died of Covid-19 in Chin State and Kalay, Sagaing Region.” As a Chin observer notes in the Interview section of this report, “Pastor or religious leaders are likely to get infected because they are supposed to go to funeral service and participate in worship.”

No COVID-19 vaccine was available in Chin State and there was a severe shortage of oxygen in portable tanks throughout the country. Volunteer efforts to provide care for COVID-19 patients in Chin State were often forced to shut down or had supplies blocked. In early August a journalist in Chin State, “Vahpual” wrote in TIME, “Now the military is trying to obstruct our grassroots efforts to fight COVID-19.”

COVID-19 deaths increased along with a mounting death toll from coup-related violence. An independent monitoring group, Institute of Chin Affairs (ICA) announced on August 31, 2021, “When the ICA first published the list of Chin fatalities on July 6, 2021, 81 Chin people had been killed by the Myanmar Junta since its coup d’etat on February 1. As of today, the death toll has now reached 108. Within the last 2 months, 27 more Chin People were killed, approximately one person every two days. Among the deaths were 57 civilians including 7 women and 14 children under the age of 18 and 51 from Chin resistance forces.” [“Chin” in this case likely refers to people living in any region of Burma (Myanmar) whose ethnic identities had roots in the Chin State region or ties to the Chin State region.]

The numbers of refugees and Internally Displaced People (IDPs) of Chin State also continued to increase. In late June 2021 Chin Human Rights Organization (CHRO) estimated over 42,000 had fled their homes in Chin State since the coup. IDPs faced extreme food insecurity as well as lack of medicine and safe drinking water as Myanmar coup military blocked efforts by volunteers, international diaspora of people from Chin State and international agencies to help those in flight and hiding.

In late August 2021 Yaw People’s Defense Force inflicted significant casualties on Myanmar coup military in the vicinity of Gangaw (Yaw) a Magway (Magwe) Region town with road connections to central Chin State and Kalay. Retaliating with what news outlet Myanmar Now characterized as “the junta’s terrorisation of Gangaw” the Myanmar coup military slaughtered at least 30 civilians, robbing, torturing and mutilating some of them. They also reportedly burned “nearly 100 homes.” In Gangaw Township’s Myin Thar village on September 9, over a dozen civilians and captured PDF fighters were massacred by Myanmar coup military. Unintimidated, YPDF and other PDFs continued to ambush Myanmar coup military units in the area.

Central Chin State became a flashpoint in mid-September 2021. Helicopters and fighter jets were deployed against combined CNA and CDF raiders when they overtook a Myanmar coup military base at Lungler village near the Mizoram border on September 11.

Thantlang, a town of around 10,000 situated between Chin State’s capital Hakha and the Mizoram border, emptied out after Myanmar coup military attacked it with artillery, burning buildings and killing civilians. One of those was Pastor Cung Biak Hum who was shot by Myanmar coup military on September 18 when trying to put out a fire. A Myanmar coup military soldier reportedly cut the finger off Rev. Cung Biak Hum’s corpse to steal his gold wedding ring. Dr. Sasa of NUG observed, “We feel that is not only an insult to the Chin people, but it is also a declaration of war against all the Christian community.”

Mutilation, often even more horrific, of the living or dead by Myanmar coup military troops is not all not uncommon in Burma (Myanmar.) But their killing/robbery of Rev. Cung Biak Hum garnered particular outrage throughout the country and around the world. UN Special Rapporteur Tom Andrews commented on Twitter, “The murder of a Baptist minister and bombing of homes in Thantlang, Chin State are the latest examples of the living hell being delivered daily by junta forces against the people of Myanmar. The world needs to pay closer attention. More importantly, the world needs to act.”

Still, the world did not act. Not with any concerted or proactive effort to help rid Chin State or the rest of Burma (Myanmar) of coup leader Gen. Min Aung Hlaing’s oppressive occupying Myanmar coup military, anyway. Not even Chin State’s capital was safe as Myanmar coup military used artillery to attack parts of Hakha in late September. Despite international outcry over previous attacks, Myanmar coup military artillery barrages again pounded buildings in Mindat in September.

Several months after the coup, the CDF/CNF alliance grew more lethal, better armed (seizing weapons from police posts and Myanmar coup military) and more effective at sabotage. During September, a well-planned campaign by anti-coup saboteurs toppled cellphone towers of Myanmar coup military-owned Mytel company across Chin State. The coup regime reportedly cut internet and data connections (all provider companies) in most of Chin State in late September.

Anti-coup forces in Chin State offered support and even incentives to defectors from police and Myanmar coup military, resulting in dozens deserting their posts there in September. According to Myanmar Now, “On September 16, the Hakha-based chapter of the CDF announced that any [Myanmar coup military] soldier surrendering their light weapons and ammunition would be granted 5m kyat (US$2,683). For heavy weapons and ammunition, the reward increased to 10m kyat ($5,367.)”

The CDF/CNA alliance strengthened its capabilities through late September and gained new armed struggle allies including the Gurkha Defense Force (local ethnic Gurkha fighters) operating with with PDF-Tamu near the Sagaing/Manipur border.

Anti-coup armed forces in Chin State including the CDF/CNA alliance have deployed with numerous advantages:

  • Support from local civilians who have pent up resentment of Myanmar coup military occupation and anger at Myanmar coup military atrocities, Myanmar coup military anti-Christian abuse.
  • Familiarity with the mountainous terrain, climate and other operational conditions.
  • Indigenous people who are used to hardship, many have forest survival skills and hunting ability.
  • Informal communications networks from village to village.
  • Some escape routes for displaced noncombatants.
  • Influx of highly motivated new fighters, some with special skills. New recruits joining older experienced training officers.
  • New political unity and coalition-building increasing operational capabilities.
  • EAOs and PDFs for the most part lack fixed bases or camps but this can be an advantage in guerrilla raiding strategy.
  • Myanmar coup military bases in Chin State are in known fixed locations at outskirts of towns; if these are neutralized or destroyed the Chin State mountains may become a fortress as during World War 2 (repelling Japanese invaders based in Kalaymyo.)
  • Limited roads that Myanmar coup military can use for resupply or reinforcement (Myanmar coup military has been forced to use helicopters and convoys for troop movement.)
  • Police and border posts in Chin State have been vulnerable to raids for weapons and there have been significant defections from police and Myanmar coup military.
  • It is also worth noting that fighters with ethnic connection to Chin State (Chin, Zomi and others) have been very effective participants in anti-coup operations outside of Chin State including around Kalay and in other lowland areas of Sagaing and Magway.
  • As emphasized in the Interviews section of this report, the resistance movement in Chin State and nearby regions is an intrinsic part of the massive peoples’ uprising spanning the entire country of Burma (Myanmar) with multi-ethnic unity of purpose and coordinated action since the Feb. 1, 2021 coup. In this political context, Chin State is no longer “isolated.” Nationwide endorsement of a federal system is very meaningful for Chin State.

Despite considerable guerrilla warfare advantages, the anti-coup movement in Chin State also faces serious challenges: air attack vulnerability, food insecurity and potential fractures in the united opposition front.

Despite considerable guerrilla warfare advantages, the anti-coup movement in Chin State also faces serious challenges: air attack vulnerability, food insecurity and potential fractures in the united opposition front.

The military coup regime has the only air capability, so all anti-coup forces may face attack by helicopter gunships and jets (bombing, strafing) which the coup regime uses against military and civilian targets. In Chin State, Myanmar coup military has been able to resupply and reinforce (and reportedly, retreat) by air. Although some Burma (Myanmar) EAOs have obtained and reportedly used man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS) the anti-aircraft capability of armed anti-coup groups in Chin State still appears extremely limited. Burma’s rainy season somewhat mitigates the threat of air attack but the weather usually clears in October/November (although Chin State remains misty and foggy.) PDF and EAO efforts to ground the coup regime’s aircraft at bases elsewhere in Burma (Myanmar) by denial of fuel or by sabotaging/destroying aircraft and airfields may prove crucial.

Displaced noncombatants in Chin State suffer from severe food insecurity. Rice supply insecurity affects the entire state, which relied on imports/donations even before the coup. Cutting off road access to the rest of Burma (Myanmar) is advantageous for preventing Myanmar coup military resupply and reinforcement but also may make obtaining food and other relief supplies more difficult. Livestock including mithuns (domesticated forest oxen), cattle and goats have been abandoned by fleeing noncombatants and their corn storage abandoned or destroyed. Deforestation (which was rampant pre-coup) means less wild animals to hunt for food and less tree cover for IDPs or anti-coup fighters to hide under.

Chin State has a long history of factional issues and inter-ethnic communications difficulties, with the military regimes of Burma (Myanmar) skilled at exploiting such differences through “divide and rule.” As is the case in most, although not all, of Burma (Myanmar) the anti-coup movement in Chin State shows unprecedented political and ethnic unity in purpose and in its actual operations. This unity must continue and even expand to include the few hold out non-cooperating factions in order to optimize the defense of Chin State against Tatamdaw occupiers and invaders.

A place which had been considered very much on the periphery of Burma (Myanmar) concern, Chin State has now become known for the atrocities endured by its citizens and the ferocity with which they fight back. CNF/CNA, a previously marginalized EAO has significantly fulfilled a “responsibility to protect” Chin State from Myanmar coup military. The “remote” state’s own sons and daughters are forming the new resistance. From CDM strikers to IDP aid groups to guerrilla raiders, this is a local, indigenous movement.

The people of Chin State do, however, need outside support such as donations to CDM and refugee/IDP relief fundraising to help ensure their survival during this crisis. And even after the coup regime is ended, Chin State will need assistance as its people rebuild and move toward a newly economically equitable and environmentally sustainable future.


LIST OF NEWS ARTICLES

This is a list (with links) of news articles from February-September 2021 about anti-coup resistance in Chin State and related topics. Project Maje does not endorse the contents of the articles which are listed and linked in this report for background information purposes.

“Protests Against Military Govt Erupt Across Chin State” Khonumthung News, Feb. 11, 2021
https://www.bnionline.net/en/news/protests-against-military-govt-erupt-across-chin-state

“Soldiers Attack Chinland Post Reporter and Protesters in Chin State”
Khonumthung News, March 24, 2021
https://www.bnionline.net/en/news/soldiers-attack-chinland-post-reporter-and-protesters-chin-state

“The ‘Tumi Revolution’: Protesters Fight Back in Sagaing Region” Frontier, April 13, 2021
https://www.frontiermyanmar.net/en/the-tumi-revolution-protesters-fight-back-in-sagaing-region/

“Pangs of Guilt: Exiles in India Torn Between Safety and Resistance”
Frontier, by Emily Fishbein and Nu Nu Lusan, May 7, 2021
https://www.frontiermyanmar.net/en/pangs-of-guilt-exiles-in-india-torn-between-safety-and-resistance/

“‘A Humanitarian Disaster in the Making’ in Myanmar’s Chin State” Al Jazeera,
By Emily Fishbein, Zau Myet Awng and Nu Nu Lusan, May 18, 2021
https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/5/18/a-humanitarian-disaster-in-the-making-in-myanmars-chin-state

“Myanmar: The Small Embattled Town That Stood Up to the Army”
BBC, by Jonathan Head, May 22, 2021
https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-57197081

“Fighters of Chin State Are No Strangers to Hardship, Repression in Myanmar”
RFA, May 23, 2021
https://www.rfa.org/english/news/myanmar/chin-fighters-05232021030736.html

“Hunting Traditions, ‘Spirit of Resistance’ Give Myanmar’s ‘Tumee’ Rifle Militias Edge Over Military” RFA, June 4, 2021
https://www.rfa.org/english/news/myanmar/tumi-06042021194535.html

“Resistance Fighters Inflict Heavy Losses on Junta Forces in Myanmar’s Chin State” The Irrawaddy, June 7, 2021
https://www.irrawaddy.com/news/burma/resistance-fighters-inflict-heavy-losses-on-junta-forces-in-myanmars-chin-state.html

“Mindat Becomes a Ghost Town Under Military Rule” Myanmar Now, June 14, 2021
https://www.myanmar-now.org/en/news/mindat-becomes-a-ghost-town-under-military-rule

“Chin state CM Salai Lian Luai takes shelter in Mizoram” The Sentinel (Assam), June 16, 2021
https://www.sentinelassam.com/topheadlines/chin-state-cm-salai-lian-luai-takes-shelter-in-mizoram-543018

“Courage in Chinland” (interview with Mark, a Zomi activist) Insight Myanmar podcast, June 22, 2021
https://insightmyanmar.org/complete-shows/2021/6/22/episode-59-courage-in-chinland

“‘Attack the Enemy’: Chin Guerillas Hunt Down Myanmar Troops” New Naratif, by Athens Zaw Zaw, June 23, 2021
https://newnaratif.com/attack-the-enemy-chin-guerillas-hunt-down-myanmar-troops/

“Tens Of Thousands Displaced in Chin State Since Coup” Khonumthung News, June 25, 2021
https://www.bnionline.net/en/news/tens-thousands-displaced-chin-state-coup

“Dozens of Myanmar Junta Soldiers Killed in Chin State Clashes”
The Irrawaddy, June 30, 2021
https://www.irrawaddy.com/news/burma/dozens-of-myanmar-junta-soldiers-killed-in-chin-state-clashes.html

“More Than 80 Ethnic Chin Killed by Myanmar’s Military Since February Coup: Watchdog Group” RFA, July 27, 2021
https://www.rfa.org/english/news/myanmar/chin-07272021183114.html

“Myanmar’s Military has Weaponized COVID-19” by Vahpual, TIME,
Aug. 5, 2021
https://time.com/6087689/myanmar-military-weaponizing-covid-19/

“Myanmar’s Military Blocks Supply Routes to 50,000 Refugees in Chin State Amid Renewed Fighting” RFA, Aug. 9, 2021
https://www.rfa.org/english/news/myanmar/mindat-08092021180527.html

“From Trainee Doctor to Guerrilla Warrior: How Myanmar’s Youth Are Preparing for Civil War” The Telegraph, by Joe Wallen and Isaac Zoramsanga, Aug. 13, 2021

“Myanmar Regime Forces Loot and Vandalize Villages in Chin State” The Irrawaddy, Aug. 30, 2021
https://www.irrawaddy.com/news/burma/myanmar-regime-forces-loot-and-vandalize-villages-in-chin-state.html

Institute of Chin Affairs documentation of post-coup fatalities, Aug. 21, 2021
https://chinaffairs.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/Chin-Fatalities-Updated-31-August-2021.pdf

“A Dozen Myanmar Militias Form Alliance to Overthrow Junta” RFA, Sept. 1, 2021
https://www.rfa.org/english/news/myanmar/alliance-09012021192121.html

“Myanmar Military Destroys Religious Buildings in Chin State” Myanmar Now, Sept. 3, 2021
https://www.myanmar-now.org/en/news/myanmar-military-destroys-religious-buildings-in-chin-state

“CNF Spokesperson: Everyone Has A Responsibility To Fight Against The Regime” (interview with Pu Htet Ni of CNF), Khonumthung News, Sept. 7, 2021
https://khonumthung.org/english/cnf-spokesperson-everyone-has-a-responsibility-to-fight-against-the-regime/

“Loading Up For a Wider War in Myanmar” Asia Times, by Anthony Davis, Sept. 7, 2021
https://asiatimes.com/2021/09/loading-up-for-a-wider-war-in-myanmar/

“In Chin State, a Young Journalist Finds a New Calling” Myanmar Now,
Sept. 11, 2021
https://www.myanmar-now.org/en/news/in-chin-state-a-young-journalist-finds-a-new-calling

“Chin Rebel Groups Team Up to Capture Military Outpost Near Indian Border”
Myanmar Now, Sept. 13, 2021
https://www.myanmar-now.org/en/news/chin-rebel-groups-team-up-to-capture-military-outpost-near-indian-border

“Days into Military’s Occupation of Gangaw, Five More Civilians Found Murdered” Myanmar Now, Sept. 16, 2021
https://www.myanmar-now.org/en/news/days-into-militarys-occupation-of-gangaw-five-more-civilians-found-murdered

“Coalition of Chin Resistance Forces Attack Tedim Police Station”
Myanmar Now, Sept. 18, 2021
https://www.myanmar-now.org/en/news/coalition-of-chin-resistance-forces-attack-tedim-police-station

“Myinthar Village Mass Killing” Myanmar Peace Monitor, Sept. 2021
https://www.mmpeacemonitor.org/308345/myinthar-village-mass-killing/

“Myanmar Town Near India Border Sees Exodus as Thousands Flee Fighting
Reuters, Sept. 22, 2021
https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/myanmar-town-near-india-border-sees-exodus-thousands-flee-fighting-2021-09-22/

“Thirty Myanmar Police, Troops Defect in Chin State Since War Declaration Against Junta” The Irrawaddy, Sept. 23, 2021
https://www.irrawaddy.com/news/burma/thirty-myanmar-police-troops-defect-in-chin-state-since-war-declaration-against-junta.html

“Eight Myanmar Army Soldiers Defect to Chinland Defence Force” Myanmar Now, Sept. 23, 2021
https://www.myanmar-now.org/en/news/eight-myanmar-army-soldiers-defect-to-chinland-defence-force

“Myanmar Junta Seeks to Arrest Doctor Assisting Displaced Persons in Chin State” The Irrawaddy, Sept. 24, 2021
https://www.irrawaddy.com/news/burma/myanmar-junta-seeks-to-arrest-doctor-assisting-displaced-persons-in-chin-state.html

“Fears of More Atrocities as Myanmar Junta Blocks Internet in Parts of Chin, Magwe” The Irrawaddy, Sept. 24, 2021
https://www.irrawaddy.com/news/burma/fears-of-more-atrocities-as-myanmar-junta-blocks-internet-in-parts-of-chin-magwe.html

“‘No Future’ for Myanmar People Unless Spring Revolution Succeeds” (interview with Dr. Sasa of NUG), The Irrawaddy, Sept. 27, 2021
https://www.irrawaddy.com/news/burma/no-future-for-myanmar-people-unless-spring-revolution-succeeds.html

“Zomi Revolutionary Army Attacks Anti-regime Group in Tedim” Myanmar Now,
Sept. 27, 2021
https://www.myanmar-now.org/en/news/zomi-revolutionary-army-attacks-anti-regime-group-in-tedim

“Over 30 Myanmar Junta Troops Killed in Fierce Weekend Fighting” The Irrawaddy, Sept. 27, 2021
https://www.irrawaddy.com/news/burma/over-30-myanmar-junta-troops-killed-in-fierce-weekend-fighting.html

“Myanmar’s Military Junta Threats an All-out Offensive Against Chin People”
The Chindwin, Sept. 27, 2021
https://www.thechindwin.com/2021/09/27/myanmars-military-junta-threats-an-all-out-offensive-against-chin-people/


INTERVIEWS

This report section contains responses by six people who are from Chin State to the same three interview questions in September 2021, providing political, social and historical context regarding the 2021 anti-coup uprising in Chin State. Interviews were sought only with people whose personal safety would not be compromised by participating. The opinions voiced by the interviewees are their own, not Project Maje’s.

Also see the News Articles section of this report for links to interviews by media outlets with Pu Htet Ni of CNF (Khonumthung News), Dr. Sasa of NUG (The Irrawaddy) and Mark, a Zomi activist (Insight Myanmar.)

 

Salai Za Uk Ling
Deputy Executive Director, Chin Human Rights Organization

Views are his own, not representing those of CHRO.

Q: What are the main types of difficulties in Chin State because of the Feb. 1 coup?

A: The return to conflict situation and militarization makes all aspects of life very difficult. Serious human rights abuses accompany militarization and a return of military rule. Arbitrary arrests, detentions, torture, unlawful killings, use of human shields in conflict situation, enforced disappearances, targeting of civilians etc. In the last nine months since the coup, the junta has arrested more than 450 ethnic Chins and detained more than 230 people. We have documented the deaths of 115 people of whom around 85 have taken place in Chin State. Chin State is now experiencing the impacts of the junta’s four-cuts policy whereby supplies of basic goods and commodities have been cut off, and movements of goods and people being restricted. As a result of the coup, we have the largest displacement situation unprecedented in recent memory.

Q: Why do you think Chin State is strongly resisting the coup forces?

A: People are fed up with living under a military dictatorship and are determined not to let the next generation experience the kind of totalitarian rule they have experienced since the military take-over in 1962. For most people, resisting military rule is a do or die, or now or never situation.

Q: Do you think there is a new unity among groups in Chin State?

A: The collective hatred towards the military and the thoughts of living under a military dictatorship is uniting people to the extent never possible. There is a new found unity in purpose and goal.


BN Mawi, Flora
activist from Chin State

Q: What are the main types of difficulties in Chin State because of the Feb. 1 coup?

A: Chin State is diverse, dynamic with its internal power structure. In terms of analyzing its types of difficulties after the coup, we may separate into 4 areas where the obstacles are different. One is Zomi speaking area: the resistance does not go against so much to the Tatmadaw, but refreshing the conflict with Kathae armed group. Second is Hakha, Than Thlang and Falam area: the focus is clear against Tatmadaw and joining all internal campaign led by CHRO but military composition can be further differentiate between CNF and CNO where there is a clear demarcation internally. However, it seems both able to maintain internal conflict on warfare stage against the Tatmadaw. Third is Mindat, Kanpetlet and Matupi: although the nationwide resistance starts from Mindat, the neighboring township CDFs join later. There is internal complex disagreement over the war objective but they finally able to carry on resistance. The last is in Paletwa: as this is highly relatively controlled by Arakan Army where they keeps silent against Tatmadaw although lots of weapons, machines trading is facilitated by Arakan Army to local CDFs.

However, comparing with normal condition, agreement and collaborations for common goal seems to be quite challenging for Chin actors and in Chin context. But every crisis made Chin cohesive and corporative in general. Every external threads made Chin to be powerful. Actors who know how to play this is USDP or Tatmadaw, they always play divide and rule game. But fortunately, this approach fail as national CDM movement is too strong. The nation CDM data is the testimony.

The difficulty is for Tatmadaw who might miscalculate internal clan base division. To fulfil their mission, Tatmadaw level of restriction and movement to success military operations. Thus the most who suffer are those vulnerable population who rely on external market base products the like TB, HIV, anti-depressant. We have observed crime associated with drugs due to military and COVID19 lockdown period where a 34 year mentally ill mother slaughter three of her children as she cannot access her medication.

There are severe forms of humanitarian crisis associated with Tatmadaw’s 4-cuts where some children are reported dead during August-September 2021 in Mindat.

Q: Why do you think Chin State is strongly resisting the coup forces?

A: It’s about collective psychological issue which is deeply against the mainstream narrative produced by big institutions, and further facilitated by several internal institutions including the UN. In fact, the narrative of “Chin State is the poorest State” is the outcome of Burmanization, further supported by neoliberal agents with intensively institutionalized by UN. The infamous USDP candidate from Thantlang erects the poster at the town’s entrance that “Poor but happy” and everyone regardless of supporting political parties really appreciate this. This is a sign of how much individual against the outcome of Burmanization.

The resistance is strong not because of CNF is militarily strong, but people have been felt collectively that our reality is not as what others are labelling. We know ourselves what it is, but we got exhausted living with unwelcoming comments and judgement about our existence. It is not because NLD supporters are strong too. Each local CDF are organized with different political parties supporters. Like in Mindat, it is a clan base assignment than party base that every boy and men to join the military. It has been also rather perceived as historical duty and generational duty to fight against the oppressor.

Q: Do you think there is a new unity among groups in Chin State?

A: We are united when the enemy is big and ridiculous. But we often fail to see the size of the enemy so we have been sleeping once in awhile. But we all wake up seeing the enemy is big and notorious so we all united. But no one knows what sort of enemy will appear after combating this military coup and divide, or if the new enemy is small for the Chin.


Thang Za Dal
political analyst

Q: What are the main types of difficulties in Chin State because of the Feb. 1 coup?

A: As you know so well for decades, Chin State always has so many difficulties in all sectors for decades that I cannot even name them.

Q: Why do you think Chin State is strongly resisting the coup forces?

A: The main reason why the Chins strongly oppose could be that we are more and more aware of the injustices under which we’ve been suffering since Burma’s independence.

Q: Do you think there is a new unity among groups in Chin State?

A: I think there’s already a new kind of unity among different groups now in Chin State. The only problem would be how long it’d last and whether there’d be some far-sighted, visionary leaders among the Chins. But the Chins’ unity or their unity with all the other resistance movements throughout Burma alone may not be enough to build long-lasting peace without the goodwill and assistance of the regional and global powers.


[name withheld]
a Chin observer

Q: What are the main types of difficulties in Chin State because of the Feb. 1 coup?

A: After February 1 coup, the Chin (not only from people in Chin, but also from Chin in Yangon) were seriously affected by COVID-19 pandemic. First, health sector is collapsed after CDM [Civil Disobedience Movement] and the regime has lost border control. As such, the Chin from Chin State and Kalay suffered from COVID-19 pandemic. As majority of the Chin are Christian, pastor or religious leaders are likely to get infected because they are supposed to go to funeral service and participate in worship. At the same time, religious institutions are the one that effectively respond COVID-19 pandemic since health sector was collapsed. In our church, we formed COVID-19 Response Committee and we bought oxygen cylinders, medical equipment and ambulance. Church volunteers played a key role in saving many lives.

Q: Why do you think Chin State is strongly resisting the coup forces?

A: There are many factors. But, not only the Chin, but also other Christian dominated ethnic groups such as Kachin, Karen, and Karenni also strongly resist the coup forces. In addition, Chin has the highest voter turnout in 2010, 2015, and 2020 general elections across the country. It shows how people are interested in politics. These election results also tell us that Chin State is NLD stronghold, whether we like it or not. After the coup, we have seen the formation of multiple local defense groups, both township and tribal based. The Chin National Front (CNF) is backing up those defense groups one way or another and they reacted strongly. If CNF is not active in conflict, they may wane their political and military influence in the future. We do not know what agreements CNF reached with NUG, but giving the fact that these many defense forces do not use the name PDF [People’s Defense Force], it means CNF can maintain a strong influence over them. Overall, Chin people are highly not in favor of military rule. Military cannot maintain any influence in Chin since the region has strong Christian influence, e.g. Ma Ba Tha [a Buddhist monk led racist authoritarian group] has no rule. Churches from abroad also play a crucial role in terms of financial assistance in this Spring Revolution. Q: Do you think there is a new unity among groups in Chin State? A: Definitely! the coup united the Chin people. Every township has their own local defense forces (eg. CDF-Hakha, CDF-Thantlang) and these groups are getting along with each other. However, the coup factor will not unite for long and we need to find a consensus on how to rebuild the State.

Q: Do you think there is a new unity among groups in Chin State?

A: Definitely the coup united the Chin people. Every township has their own militia (eg. CDF-Hakha, CDF-Thantlang) and these groups are getting along with each other. However, there are still power struggle in ICNCC [Interim Chin National Consultative Council] between different groups to hold more power.


Salai Kipp Kho Lian
a Chin politician

Q: What are the main types of difficulties in Chin State because of the Feb. 1 coup?

A: Difficulties in Chin State didn’t start on Feb. 1, the difficulties accumulated for more than 70 years in Chin State in particular and in the whole country are so diverse and multi-dimensional in nature. Your question suggests the current Spring Revolution and the overwhelming outpouring of enthusiasm of the peoples’ revolution to uproot the military dictatorship once and for all started only after the Feb. 1 coup. But actually, we have a long long history to comprehensively understand the current event.

Q: Why do you think Chin State is strongly resisting the coup forces?

A: It is NOT just Chin State that is “strongly resisting the coup forces”. It is overwhelmingly a country-wide resistance armed movement. Unprecedented in the entire history of humankind for the past thousands of years. Compare with any revolutions in history – there has never been such an overwhelming enthusiasm of the whole population of the entire country in people’s revolution.

Q: Do you think there is a new unity among groups in Chin State?

A: The new unity is also the same. The outbreak of the Spring Revolution effectively dismantles all divisions of the society – geographical, racial, religious, ethnicity etc. also unprecedented.


Lian Uk
1990 Member of Parliament Elect, Hakha Constituency, the capital of Chin State

note: this interview response includes an essay providing historical background.

Q: What are the main types of difficulties in Chin State because of the Feb. 1 coup?

A: The Military coup group is to hold on unamendable constitution of Union of Myanmar 2008 which is in militarism. The Senior General is above President and Prime Minister and even above the constitution itself. This condition makes him lead the country in his militarist command dictatorship. This made all the civilians, especially all Panglong Agreement signatory Nationalities – Chin, Kachin, Shan etc. have no future if we do not resist.

The civilians in defending their home and properties with local made feeble flint lock guns from the military council armed forces looting and killing are no match for the troops of military council who hold modern latest weapons.

So civilian fled for their personal security to hiding in the jungle with no food and shelter in the monsoon heavy rains. And they are going to be in starvation soon. Children, mothers and old aged people suffer extreme difficulty for all of which we feel so pitiful for them as they are beyond our all effort to help in heart breaking without any international support and intervention for help.

Q: Why do you think Chin State is strongly resisting the coup forces?

A: I better explain first the underlying background to make the condition clearer. British ruled what is now Union of Myanmar in 4 colonies since towards the end of the 19th century. They first annexed Myanmar kingdom which included Arakan kingdom and Mon Kingdom in 1885 as Burmese king had annexed those two kingdoms long before British annexation.

That is the Burmese kings annexed the two kingdoms making them parts of Myanmar kingdom. British annexed the last kingdom of Burma under the last Burmese king Thibaw in 1885 and ruled this Myanmar kingdom as Burma Ministerial colony with Indian codes of laws as it was annexed from British India.

British also annexed Kachin territory in 1892 and ruled it as Kachin Hills colony with the Kachin Hills Regulation which was made by the British to rule Kachin Hills colony. They also annexed Federated Shan States territory and ruled it as federated Shan State colony with the Federated Shan states law which was made by the British to rule Federated Shan States colony.

The British then annexed Chin territory in 1896 and ruled it as Chin Hills colony with the Chin Hills Regulation 1896 as adopted by the Governor General in Council that rule British India and British Burma. Chin Hills colony then was what are now Chin State, Naga Hills Autonomous Area today in Myanmar now and Mizoram and Naga Land in India. What is now Mizoram and Nagaland in India were ruled then as parts of Chin Hills colony since 1919 with the Chin Hills Regulation 1896 by Assam British Governor as part of British India.

Since Assam was put to be part of India by Radcliffe who was given authority to demarcate the boundary of independent Pakistan and Independent India on religious line boundary of Muslims and Hinduism, British Province Assam including Mizoram and Nagaland were put in India independent country since August 15, 1947.

So, when Panglong Agreement was signed by the Chin leaders with other 3 British colonies on February 12, 1947, what is now Nagaland and Mizoram territory which were part of Chin Hills colony were already in India Independence and no longer in Chin Hills colony. That is the reason how Mizoram and Nagaland today happen to be in India today.

The four British colonies in British were annexed as different territories outside one another by British in 1885 to 1896. That is the 3 Burma Frontier Areas territories as Chin Hills colony, Kachin Hills colony and Federated Shan states colony were all annexed each as independent territory by the British outside the Burmese kingdom.

The British demarcated the boundary of each colony as they annexed them after it annexed one after the other. And all boundaries between the colonies were ratified by all at Panglong Conference and Agreement. The demarcation boundary was all confirmed in the Section 2 of the constitution of Union of Burma 1947 and by the succeeding constitutions.

In the early WW2, British Prime Minister Churchill and US President Roosevelt signed Atlantic Charter 1941 that if the two countries as allied won WWII, they would give all colony territories independence so that they could rule their respective territories by themselves. WW2 was indeed won by the two countries in alliance and formed United Nations in 1945.

Atlantic charter 1941 was included in the United Nation Charter as all colonies who could make self-government in their territory be given independence at once and those who could not form self-government in their territory because of backwardness be given to the UN Trusteeship and the UN was to give them independence or to let them to be with any country in federal when the colonies could form their own government in their respective territories.

So, the separate four colonies under British Governor of British Burma had all opportunity to be in self-determination in federal or in Independence after WW2. East Timor has been known to be the last of such independent country given by the UN in recent years.

Burma Ministerial colony and British India at once claimed independence then that they could at once form self-government in their respective territories. So, Burma Ministerial signed Aung San – Attlee Agreement 1947 only for Burma Ministerial Independence.

Before the 3 BFA colonies could say anything on their future, Burma Ministerial colony delegations led by General Aung San put up a memorandum to the British government that if British government was of opinion that the BFA be still backward and be given to UN Trusteeship, Burma Ministerial territory which is going to be independent country be given the privilege to be the trust country of the three BFA colonies( Chin Hills, Kachin Hills and Shan) as they were most geographically closest to them.

But the 3 British colony territories refused it saying that Aung San was Chief Minister only for Burma Ministerial Colony, and he was nothing concern with the other 3 British colonies.

British and General Aung San therefore in the Aung San – Atlee Agreement included that the issue of BFA be decided according to what the three colony leaders expressed their desire at Panglong Conference held for Burma Ministerial colony and the 3 BFA colonies.

General Aung San met the 3 BFA colony leaders just before Panglong Conference started at Panglong itself and offered them a term to take independence with Burma Ministerial colony so that the constitution of the independent country be adopted in Federal form and that each of the federal Union constituent state had self-determination in their respective territories and if they were not happy after some times in the federal Union, each of the constituent state had secession rights. (See in book “Panglong Koe twe” in Burmese or “Panglong Experience” by Pe Khin”)

In order that the three colonies should not prefer to join the UN Trusteeship, General Aung San had made his offer to them equivalent to the rights the 3 BFA colonies should get if they prefer to join the UN Trusteeship. So, the three colonies accepted his offer and signed Panglong Agreement 1947 to form federal Union of Burma.

General Aung San was so honest and sincere that the deed above showed his promise of federal form in designing the flag of the new country as federal Union to be formed of the 4 British colonies and Karenni Princely independent state which joined the 4 British colonies in volunteer after Panglong Agreement was signed by the four colonies.

Karen and Myanmar settlements in Delta region were mixed in fluid population that boundary demarcation between them was impossible. British thus annexed Karen settlements as part of Burmese kingdom. It was likely that what is now Karen state territory was represented in the Burma Ministerial colony Parliament by the Karen MPs in the Delta region as they were indivisible people.

So, it was likely that what is now Karen State territory was also taken as part of Burmese kingdom. So, Karen was also represented by General Aung San as the Chief Minister of Burma Ministerial colony at Panglong Conference and Panglong Agreement together with Arakan, Mon and Myanmar as people of Burma Ministerial colony.

As he offered to the BFA leaders, General Aung San indeed executed the term of federalism by designing the flag of the federal union. In the flag, he designed five stars representing the 4 British colonies forming four state governments respectively after in dependence. Another one small star was added representing Karenni Princely independent state as it left its independent ship and joined the four British colonies, originally independent territories to be in the designated federal union.

By judging the stars in the Union flag and the way independence of Union of Burma was formed, General Aung San took the model of the 13 British colonies forming United States of America in federal to be an independent country.

Thus, there were four small stars representing 4 British colonies and another small star representing Karenni Princely independent state each to form state government after independence. The big star in the center represented federal Union government formed jointly by the five state governments after independence.

Thus, the flag of federal Union of Burma was made with the 5 stars surrounding a big star in their center. You could also read this flag feature in page 206 of the book “Burma’s Constitution” by Dr. Maung Maung. The flag of this Union of Burma according to the constitution of Union of Burma 1947 was kept unamended with the secession clause section 201 to 206 of Union constitution till 1973 before new constitution of 1974 was adopted.

The reason was it was not possible to amend it in the 1947 Union constitution for General Aung San has signed Aung San – Atlee Agreement and Panglong Agreement which were no longer possible to be retracted after his death by being assassinated with his interim government Cabinet Ministers by his political rivals who opposed his plan of federal constitution.
If these two agreements, the flag with five stars surrounding the big star and secession clause in the constitution, be retracted by General Aung San successor, they could no longer claimed to be his successor as they no longer agreed his plan.

That was the reason why the military regime had tried to make General Aung San’s name diminished in the History of Burma as the leader of Burma independence and as the founder of Union of Burma with 4 British colonies plus Karenni/Kayah State by deleting his official picture from the currency money and by taking off his picture being hang in all the legal offices of the Union of Burma as the founding father of the Union of Burma.

Moreover, to make General Aung San’s name totally disappeared in the history, the Burmese military regimes in the last attempt tried to abolish Panglong Agreement 1947 by changing it to Panglong Spirit in the NCA as Panglong Agreement is indivisible with his name.

Panglong Agreement is like fire and Panglong Spirit is like smoke. There cannot be smoke without fire. In the same way there cannot be Panglong Spirit without Panglong Agreement.

So, if Panglong Agreement is replaced with Panglong Spirit, there is no Panglong Spirit without recognizing Panglong Agreement. That had been the way the Military Generals have tried to abolish Panglong Agreement unnoticeably.

If there no longer is Panglong Agreement being legally recognized, all States’ boundaries be under the Parliament control as there no longer is permanently demarcated inter states boundaries and the boundaries be time to time changeable with the majority votes in the Parliament. So, all the Panglong signatory states in minority could lose their boundaries eventually.

The flag of the constitution of Union of Burma 1947, in which five small stars surrounded the big star in their center remained unamended till 1973 as there could arise problems if they were amended. They were amended only in the Constitution of Socialist Republic of Union of Burma 1974 and in the constitution of Union of Myanmar 2008.

Chin Hills colony which deserved to be independent state was made just as a division in the Myanmar territory in the constitutions of The Republic of the Union of Myanmar as if it was annexed by the Burmese kings like Arakan Kingdom and Mon kingdom. This was much resented by the Chin people throughout post-independence. Their demand is the Chin territory not less than 14,000 Sq miles must be at least a constituent state of the federal Republic of the Union of Myanmar according to Panglong Agreement.

That has been the root reason of the Chin leaders and Chin 6 Battalions in 1949 holding on Panglong agreement. It has been the politics of the Chin people since the time of 6 Chin Battalions defending the Union government in loyalty to Panglong Agreement at the tip of the Union government falling into the hands of multi insurgencies in 1949 while the Union government controlled only Rangoon area then as the whole country beyond Rangoon area was under the multi insurgencies control.

Myanmar ethnic leaders in the Union government at that time forecast that the whole union could be freed from the multi insurgencies in seven or 8 years. But the Union armed forces in which the 6 Chin battalions were the main strength drove out the multi-insurgencies to the jungle in the corners of the country making the Union Government controlling again the whole country.

But Myanmar leaders in the Union government then dismantled the six Chin battalions, despite giving them promotion and awarding Prizes for their success for letting the Union government controlling back the whole country, for groundless suspicion.

And what made the Chins much more united now than before at present is new generation ethnic Myanmar is duly embracing General Aung San’s plan of federal form of constitution as the slogans of the Early Spring Revolution. The slogans is also an aim and object to totally rooting out militarism which reduce the Union of Burma in shame to become as one of the poorest countries in the world in spite of its rich natural resources, fame and glory of [U Thant] serving as the UN General Secretary once before 1962 and having the best University in Rangoon where many African and Asian countries sent their state scholars as it was recognized by Britain and USA.

Q: Do you think there is a new unity among groups in Chin State?

A: Yes, since February 1 coup, Chin population in their own will all took armed in Chin Defense Force (CDF) which were trained by CNF in one way or the other without any need to organize them. The reason to show for this has been presented above as it was much more encouraged by the new Burmese generation youths to establish federalism in the country and to root out militarism from the soil of The Republic of the Union of Myanmar.