TOWARDS ACHIEVING THE CHIN NATIONAL UNITY

TOWARDS  ACHIEVING  THE  CHIN  NATIONAL  UNITY

By Ngalliam

Abstract

 

The need for Chin national unity is a long-felt and accepted commontask of all able and conscious Chin nationalists since the awakening ofnationalism in Myanmar in the early 1900s. The author tries to definekey words for Chin national unity in operational terms. He tries toreveal and expose the attempts and major efforts for unity among theChins in the past and evaluate the successes and failures it brings.Deduce from those historical background, he proposes recommendations ina succinct and practical manner for consideration. The author regardsunity is not only pertaining to meet political issues. Rather, it is asocio- economic issue for the advancement of the Chin people that theylead to live a competent and progressive life going abreast with theirneighbours. Unity is an elixir of life contributing towards rapidprogress and prosperity.

 

Definitions of the Terms used.           

The Random House Dictionary of the English Language defines ‘unity’ asthe state of being one single entity; oneness and the state of beingcombined with others to form a greater whole. It further defines as‘complete or harmonious accord among persons regarding attitudes,opinions, intentions, etc. Alexandre Dumas defined unity as ‘all forall, one for all’ in his book “The Three Musketeers”.           

 

The word ‘Chin’ itself is a name currently labeled by outside world tothe tribes or race living in the present Chin State in Myanmar, Mizoramand Manipur States in India and in Bangladesh who variously identifyand preferred to be addressed themselves as Lai, Laizo, Yo, Cho,  Asho,Khu, Yaw, Zomi, Mizo, Kuki-Thado etc. Probably, the word ‘Chin’ isderived from the Chinese word ’Yen’ or ‘Jin’ meaning ‘Man’ in oneaspect. Some assumed it was a word given by the Burmese in the earlycenturies when they were living together as allies and in friendship inthe beginning of Burmese empire around Bagan (Pugam), Mt.Popa (PupaMual) and in the Chindwin river (formerly called Thalawady) valley.Some suggested it is a derogatory word given to them. Before we couldcome to a common consensus through research on finding our trueidentity in our own language, we have to accept the word Chin for thetime being as our national identity as Japan and Japanese is acquiescedin lieu of Nippon and Nihongo by them. However, a rose in differentname will smell the same goes a colloquial saying.For the purpose inthis essay, the author proposes ChinNational Unity in operational terms as ‘the development of harmoniousgrowing of  feeling and acceptance of oneness in a Chin race withregards to attitudes, opinions, intentions and actions for futureeffective nationalism and progress and elevation among the tribes inall aspects through interconnection and coherence of parts formingcomplex whole’.In other simpler words, the national unityfor the Chins is to strive to achieve individual awareness on the needsof unity among all the races, tribes or sub-tribes of the Chins withina country or inter-countries and know to what cause, extent, level andin what manner and when to stand together in unity and oneness in timesof weal and woe or in jeopardy.Who are we?

Within the memory of men, the Chins are believed to be living in theorifice known as ‘Khul’ by them. This orifice origin is believed by thetribes also as their original home. They are simply cavemen who dweltin a big cave as the first human do almost everywhere. Some opine thatthe ‘Khul’ is in China now known as ‘Chou-ko-tien’ near Beijing whileothers locate it in Burma (now Myanmar) known as ‘Shinlung’ or‘Chinlung’ somewhere in north Myanmar. Thus the Khul theory, theTibetan theory, the Ciimnuai theory and the Lailun theory are one andthe same theory which seems to be the correct one. (Neng Khan PauHauzel, 1987:15).To make it short, if we accept China as the originalplace (probably Kansu region) and moved from China to Tibetan plateauand then to Myanmar along Lohit river (cf.Bohmu Bashin) down to Hukawngvalley along Chindwin river in the last century of B.C or the firstcentury of A.D. settling at the confluence of Irrawaddy and Chindwinriver and built the ‘Sho’ capital there (Sing Khaw Khai). Due to war,famine, tyrant ruler or any other good reasons the migration to thepresent Chin State in Myanmar, Mizo State and Manipur State in Indiaand some in Bangladesh commenced since 11th century. The last grouptook place in the early 14th century from Kalemyo during the reign ofKyitaungnyo, the Shan prince. Ciimnuai is the first settling place inthe present Chin State for Tedim, Tonzang and Paite Chins while Lailunis the first dwelling place for all Lai, Laizo and Matupi Chins.Mindat, Kanpalet and Paletwa Chins probably migrated straight fromcentral Myanmar around Pagan. It appears that there are no Paite, noLushai, no Hmar, no Lai , no Thado, no Zo, no Sihzang, no Vaiphei, noGangte etc and so on at the age of orifice to the first settlement andliving together in Ciimnuai and Lailun as one community. So also is anysub-tribal names or clans or family names for these are laterdevelopments and creations only. In course of time, they began tospread in the nearby areas and founded a number of villages due topopulation explosion under the leadership of a strongman called thehead of the family or clan and became the village headman or chief ofthe clan. Usually the bravest warrior ruled the village and conqueredmany nearby villages and received large number of tributes. Therefore,head-hunting was the order of the day among those earlier tribalgroups, one who could lead them in tribal groups was usually followedby others. The Paites and old Kuki groups entered India by the late16th century and the new Kukis in the 17th and 18th century.Under theBritish colonial days in India and Burma, the rule by the Chiefs wascontinued in practice. When India and Burma gained independence in 19471nd 1948 respectively, the Chins in Myanmar obtained self-rule underC.S.D. (Chin Special Division) Parliamentary democracy practice.

 

A Concise Critical look at the attempts for Chin Unity and Shortcomings in the Past and Present           

From the various descriptions of our past history as revealed by Tuck& Carey, Vumson, Sing Khaw Khai, Gougin and quite a number ofarticles on unity written by Chin scholars in various magazines, we candeduce objectively when the Chins were united and when failed to uniteand on what account.           

 

Broadly speaking, the Chins were united firstly within a sub-tribe onlyin times of tribal warfare in the past fighting among themselves or onesub-tribe and another. For instance, the fighting among the Kamhows andthe Meitheis (Manipuries) , the Zahaus and Khuanglis or Tashons etc. inthe past during the rules by their respective Chiefs are to be cited astheir unity. There were also allied forces of two sub-tribes in timesof danger or fighting a stronger foe. Compensation or indemnity waspaid duly after the war in terms of materials, animals or in kind.Unity among the whole Chins were never known in the past before theBritish colonized them in early 1890s.. Probably that they have neitherrelation and communication  beyond their own tribes or sub-tribes norcommon enemy to fight together. Unity among a race or a nationalusually occurred in times of impending  common enemy.           

 

The occupation of India and Burma by the British and the demarcation ofthe boundary in their own decision separated the Chins into twonations. Due to differences in administrative system practiced theChins were awakening politically for resistance and re-unification. Thefirst united resistance of the Chins to their rulers was in 1917 atHaka as we all know.           

The first re-unification or simply unity movement among the Zomis orChins can be traced back during the British colonial days. It wasstarted by the Chin National Union founded by U Thang Pet Maung(popularly known as Wumthu Maung) of Mindat and his followers. In 1933,the Organization prepared Memorandum demanding self-rule andindependence as soon as India and Burma achieve independence. Beforethe British annexation, the indigenous groups of Chin people living nowin India, Myanmar and Bangladesh lived in complete independence withoutany outside interference. No part of their territory was subjugatedunder the Burmese or the Hindus or the Meitei Maharaja kings. In theyear 1939 all the Executive members of the Chin National Union leaderswere arrested and kept in different prisons in Burma until the Japaneseinvasion in early 1940s. In 1948, Chin leaders gathered together inFalam to determine the future rule of Chinland and its people. Later,the day that they reached a resolution on February 20 became the ChinNational Day, However in 1957, the Chin National Union and ChinPeople’s Freedom League were merged to form the Chin NationalOrganization -CNO and Captain Mang Tung Nung   was its founderPresident. He always stood for the Chin Nationalism and unity till hisdeath in 1967.           

 

After the Democratic Burma Parliament was dissolved, military form ofGovernment was installed in 1962 under General Ne Win. Some Chinleaders started their own resistance movement in 1964. Some ambitiousChin leaders organized for Sovereign Chin Country including LushaiHills (now Mizortam), Chandel and Churachandpur District of  Manipurand Cachar District, Chittagong Hill tracts of Bangladesh, ArakanDivision, Upper and Lower Chindwin River including Sagaing Division andKale-Kabaw Valley in Burma. At the same time, the Paite NationalCouncil in Manipur under the leadership of Sri T.Gou Khen Pau hadsubmitted a memorandum on  Re-unification of the Chin People to thelate Prime Minister of India.In the year 1972, on the 21st January, theZomi National Congress came into being at Daijang village,Churachandpur District of Manipur under the leadership of PuT.Gougin..The Zomi National Congress is instrumental to the birth ofZomi Nationalism in Burma under the leadership of Pu Cin Sian Thang andhis follower Pa Thang Lian Pau.All these attempts sounded great butineffective lacking the common and equal awareness and concretebuilding of unity first among all the Chin people..  Unity cannot bebuilt up instantly without the accompaniment of political awakening,desires for total uplifting and the need for social development. Thiswas the second evidence on the need of proper unity among theChins.           

 

The introduction of Christianity is accompanied by the invention ofChin writings in Roman alphabets in the beginning of the early 1900s.This is to say modernity was dawned since then. When Rev. Dr.J.H.Copeinvented the Chin writings, he reached to a common consensus as to astandard written language to write in the Kam Hau dialect for thoseliving in the former Tedim Sub-divisions; in Laizo dialect for thoseliving in the Falam subdivision and in Lai (Haka) dialect for all thoseliving in the former Hakha subdivision including Matupi for thenorthern Chins and prepared school text-books respectively. Rev. Dr.Chum Awi interpreted that this was the beginning of the disunity of theChins. (Chum Awi: Thinking about the Unity of the Chins: 1999).Contrarily, the author is very optimistic on that. Since the productionof school textbooks were produced in our own dialect and language ,there was a tremendous improvement of knowledge and unity among thosewho speak different dialects. Moreover, the first opening of HighSchool at Falam in 1935 enabled Chins of those speaking differentdialects were united in Laizo dialect and were of good communicatorsand promoters of development in Chin State up to the late 1980s. Theirunity was cemented when the old students met together in theirAlma-Mater’s celebration of its Diamond Jubilee and produced acommemorative Magazine in 1983 portraying their writings andpictures.Bible was translated into the commonest tribal dialect forthere were quite a number of dialects were spoken due to living invillages divided by mountains and valleys. The northern Chins got theirbibles earlier. The Holy Bible was translated into Matu, Cho andPaletwa dialects very recently. The formation of Zomi BaptistConvention in 1953 and the founding of Zomi Theological College wereinstances for the advancement of religious education and enhancingunity among the Chins as envisaged by the wise-old and far-sighted Chinreligious leaders of the day. Contrary to this expectation, somenarrow-minded educated Chin people are keen on finding fault andgrumbling. In 1986, the Falam Baptist Church  offered a Host FamilyCo-ordination Scheme for the Falam Theological College studentsenabling family spirit and unity to those students who come fromvarious places of the Chin State to feel at home in Falam.As mentionedabove, the attempts to translate Bible or Hymn book in a great numberof dialects led to the strengthening of a sense of ethnic identitybased upon dialect rather than upon tribe making ecclesiasticalstructure made tribal identity stronger than dialectical. (Khup Za Go;Bible Translation and Zo Disunity, 1998). This is a point to ponderconsciously by all concerned of those who prefer unity among theChins.Chins became Christians very rapidly for they were convinced thatChristianity really brings advancement in life in addition to theunfailing promise to enter eternal life later. According to the articleon The Church in the Chin Hills by Rev. Robert Johnson, the churches inChin State is now entering the Energized Churches period and theleadership of the church and the Pastors will have a tremendous role ofinfluence on the life, thinking and doing of things among the nextgenerations. People will be united if the church leaders are united andwill remain scattered if they lead a different stand.

 

Two Witnessing Experiences

In striving for the unity of the Chins, the Golden Jubilee ChinNational Day celebration committee in Yangon awarded Certificate of Honor to 911 Chin outstanding personnel in respective fields and produced a commemorative Golden Jubilee Magazineas well printing all those Chin outstanding people in the magazine.This produced a vivid satisfaction and a feeling of oneness since 1998.The Golden Jubilee National Day celebration Committee further produceda Concise Study of the History of the Chins, their Culture, Traditions and Customs.There they reached a unity on our true identification ofourselves.Another one is for the unity of all Chin students in alluniversities in Myanma. Central Chin Literature and Culture Committee,Universities- Myanmar was formed up in 2004-2005AY with a motto on “We are One in Chin”.To realize practically, Human Resource Development Seminar I and IIhave been conducted at Hakha in 2006 and at Matupi in 2007 respectivelywith financial assistance by Chin Student Union of North America. I wasinvolved in both of the Seminars as a Patron, Resource person,Facilitator and Presenter of papers. I witnessed in both of theseminars that the words  “Coming together is a beginning; Keepingtogether is progress; and working together is success” is really true.Especially this year at Matupi, University student representativesreally felt that they are one in Chin, living for Chins and willing towork for Chins throughout their career. 

 

Proposed Solutions and Recommendations           

As briefly discussed and exposed the unity and disunity of the Chinsabove, the author proposed the following suggestions for building upunity among the Chins in the 21st century according to the definitionsproposed and as envisaged on unity among the Chins. This will berealized by performing the following points without fail.

1.     Develop positive attitudes and optimistic outlooks and warm acceptanceto all Chins without discrimination in all our daily activities. 2.      Upgrade our thinking and broaden our views all the time glocally. 3.      Love yourself, your family, your community, your people and your country always. 4.      Take pride in being born a Chin and try to find out our true identity in our own language. 5.      Discard narrow tribal outlook, mindset and prejudices in favour of common national interests of our people. 6.      Always bear in mind that our people and country needs you and expects you highly. 7.      Prophesize unity, believe the power of unity, build unity and rely on unity in all the ways you can.. 8.      Learn lessons from the mistakes of our past history and try to be a good history maker among the Chins. 9.      Germinate good-will mission spirit any time, any place on all occasions.10.  Fear God, serve God, revere God.

 

Conclusion:

Striving towards achieving unity among Chin nationals in a tangiblemanner is a daunting task. It needs individual’s conscious awareness,devotion and dedication among the Chin nationalists. It will not beachieved through preaching and forcing alone but by practicingdiligently. It will also require individual’s commitment andcontribution. Only when each and everyone in all levels embrace equallyby discarding narrow tribal or clannish feelings, outlooks, arrogantpride and stubbornness due to ignorance will then be unity flourishes.It is a most desirable, feasible, attainable and achievable one throughconstant efforts. National unity is required in the same degree forsocio-economic development as it is necessary for political awakeningand maturity.

 

References:

 

Chin History Compilation Committee, 2001: A Concise Study of theHistory of the Chins,                                               TheirCulture and Traditions, ELC Offset, Yangon.Chin Literature &Culture Central Committee,(2006) ,Central-CLCC Annual Magazine(2005-2006) on We are One in ChinChin National Journal, No.7 March1999Chum Awi, Rev.(1999):    Thinking About the Unity of the Chins in Thinking About                                                          Christianity and the Chins in Myanmar (Cung Lian Hup, Ed.), Yangon Gougin,T. (1984):        History of Zomi & The Discovery of Zoland, Zomi Press, Churachandpur,                                                 India.Khup Za Go,(1998):   Bible Translation and Zo Disunity in  ZO Lengthe Magazine, Alzosa,                                               Shillong, Meghalaya, IndiaSiamchinthang, T.(1999): Chronology of the ZomiRe-unification Movement in Zo Lengthe Magazine, Alzosa, Shillong,Meghalaya, India The Paite NationalCouncil, (1960): Memorandum on Re-unification of the Chin People,                                               Submitted to the PrimeMinister, Govt. of India, New Delhi.Sing Khaw Khai, (1995):     Zo People and Their Culture, New Lamka, Churanchandpur, IndiaVumson, (1986):                 Zo History, Aizawl, Mizoram, India

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