Ladies and gentlemen, the ethnic chins of Burma, exiled in Norway,
It is an honor for me for having this opportunity to address the message of Chin National Day as the President of Chin Community in Norway.
Every nationality has its own national day. We, the Chin people, also have our own national day which falls on the 20th of February every year. The Chin National Day did not come into being accidentally out of narrow nationalism and patriotism, but came into existence as a result of the long and steady struggle against the hereditary feudal system, colonialism and imperialism. This historical was born through national unity. The 20th of February , 2010 marks the 62nd anniversary of Chin National Day..the day that the chin people gathered in unity at Falam town in 1948 to protest against traditional feudal aristocratic administrative system and adopted democratic ruling system in Chin Hills.
The Chin people believe to have their origins rooted in Tibet and China, migrating southwards into Burma and then to the Chin Hills after living in Chindwin valley for some times, some kept moving into India and Bangladesh.
Prior to the British annexation in 1895, the Chins lived under no foreign rules. They were administered and controlled independently by the native chieftains. The struggle for independence from the British was waged by each nationality separately. When General Aung San, the Burma leader, organized for all nationalities to have independence and to form a new union, the Shan, Kachin and Chin leaders agreed and signed the Panglong Agreement on February 12, 1947. And on July 4, 1948 a new nation known as the Union of Burma emerged and the Chin territory becomes one of the founding member states of a newly formed union.
On February 20, 1948, a representative of Tiddim Pu Thang Za Kai submitted a proposal in the general meeting which was held in Falam town, exposing the untold long sufferings of the Chins under hereditary feudal chiefs and headmen, imposing heavy taxes on common Chin people, ordering the chins to contribute voluntary labor without paying and making no development for the Chin people for decades. The meeting was attended by over 5000 representatives. U Vom Tu Maung of Mindat, acted as chairman, Captain Mang Tung Nung of Tiddim, as Secretary and Pu Lian Thum of Haka as Master of ceremony. Majority of the Chins were in favor of abolishing hereditary feudal system of administration in the Chin Hills. Thus, the 20th of February is a historic and meaningful day for the Chins because they were able to achieve national solidarity and unity on this very day.
On the 9th of October, 1950, the Chin Affairs Council decided officially to honour the 20th of February as Chin National Day. The first Chin National was held in Mindat town on a grand scale on February 20, 1951. Messages of congratulations were received from the President and many ministers of the Union of Burma. The Prime Minister U Nu attended the celebration of Chin National Day and he also read the message of the President of the Union of Burma.
Attempts and proposals made to change the date and” Chin National Day” to “Chin Special Division Day” were not successful and the Chin Affairs Council announced in 1967 that the Chin people would continue to observe their national day as usual and not as Chin Special Division Day.
Similar attempts have been made especially by the Burma`s military regime to change the national day to “Chin State Day” and Chin State Day came into existence on the 3rd of January 1974. In Burma, celebrating the national day with a banner reading “Chin National Day” is illegal and not allowed. Instead the military junta prefers to let the Chin people celebrate the 20th of February as Chin State Day. But the Chins usually insisted to celebrate as national day and not as state day.
It is therefore, the national duty of all the Chin people around the world to safeguard our national day, to preserve and maintain our culture, tradition, language and literature if we like to keep Chin identity among the family of nations.
Thank you and may God bless you all.
Pum Za Chin
President, Chin Community in Norway