Authorities restrict Chin national day celebrations

Feb 21, 2008 (DVB), An event to mark Chin national day was held yesterday at the Lion City Hall in Kamaryut township, Rangoon, despite government restrictions.

Around 10,000 people reportedly attended the colourful celebration, which began at 1pm and included speeches, music and food.

An ethnic Chin who attended the event said that the government would not allow them to celebrate Chin national day so they had to find a way around it.

"We were not allowed to hold the celebration under the title of Chin national day, so we just called it a welcome party for new university students," he said.

"But we always knew we were celebrating Chin national day, and we talked about it that way to each other."

Celebrations also took place at the Win Place hotel in Chiang Mai, Thailand, where around 250 people from Chin and other ethnic groups came to watch the day's events, including traditional Chin and Lahu dance.

One of the event's organisers said he was disappointed they could not celebrate the day fully in Burma.

"Chin national day is a special day for us, but it is sad that we can't celebrate our national day freely," the organiser said.

"But we can't do anything about that as there is no way we could hold it inside Burma, so we make it as special as we can outside."

Chin people in exile in other foreign countries also held celebrations to mark national day yesterday.

Chin people voted to establish Chin national day on 20 February 1948, which marks the day Sao Shwe Thike, Burma's first president after independence, came to visit Chin state.

Celebrating Chin national day was allowed under the Ne Win government, but has since been banned by the ruling State Peace and Development Council.

Reporting by Aye Nai

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