FROM THE DVB NEWSROOM
More than 2,000 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) from Rezua, Matupi Township, located in southern Chin State, need assistance to rebuild their homes after 60 buildings, including a school and a bank, were destroyed by airstrikes on Nov. 29. The military’s aerial attacks came after Chin forces seized Rezua earlier the same day.
“Locals are struggling to rebuild their homes and are in dire need of assistance,” said the spokesperson from the Zotung Federal Council (ZFC), appealing to the international community.
The ZFC is a civilian-run administration of the Chin ethnic Zotung nationality established in central and southern Chin State in 2022. It has 140 civilian representatives from over 50 villages. It also operates 45 schools with over 3,800 students under the guidelines of the Zotung Education Board (ZEB) and the National Unity Government (NUG) Ministry of Education.
Chin ethnic nationality groups such as the Zotung, the Mara, the Lautu, the Senthang and the Zophei have been forming their own local administrations after the 2021 military coup in order to govern their communities without any assistance from Naypyidaw.
The Chin National Army (CNA/CNF) spokesperson Salai Htet Ni told DVB that local administrations have been established in around 70 percent of Chin State over the last two years. “Our plan is to seize more towns in order to freely establish civilian-based administrations,” he said.
The CNA/CNF is establishing its own interim “People’s Administrations” in three towns: Rihkhawdar in Falam Township, as well as Rezua and Lalengpi in Matupi townships. All three, located along the India-Myanmar border, were seized by Chin forces last month.
“Almost all towns in Chin State have their own civilian-based administrations. We will develop those nationally under a single administration of the Chinland Council. We will shape a governance system that starts from the people on-ground,” added Salai Htet Ni.
The CNA/CNF is currently drafting a Chinland Constitution which is projected to be ready in 2024. Thousands of Chin people have fled across the border into India after the military retaliated with airstrikes when Chin forces seized the three border towns in November.
Over 3,000 Lalengpi residents have returned to their homes with the support of the Interim Maraland Council, another civilian administration, established in 2022. The Chin ethnic Mara nationality are based in Matupi Township of southern Chin State. Its council has four committees that manage education, administration, and humanitarian assistance.
“We formed the council to manage the whole of Maraland under a People’s Administration. There will be village councils under the administration,” said James, the Interim Maraland council chief executive officer.
James added that 67 villages are currently governed by the Interim Maraland Council. The CNA/CNF established its administration in Rikhawdar after many of the town’s 5,000 residents, who had fled to India, returned home. Salai Htet Ni claimed that the CNA/CNF, along with the Chinland Defense Force (CDF), targeted Rikhawdar and Lalengpi due to their economic importance.
“We attacked the strategic towns for military purposes, to gain access to trade, and for refugee issues. Rikhawdar is located on the No. 2 India-Burma trading route. Lalengpi is also key to our security strategy as displaced persons from southern Chin State can enter and trade in Mizoram, India,” concluded Salai Htet Ni, the CNA/CNF spokesperson.
Since the 2021 coup, resistance forces have established administrations in territories seized from the military. The NUG is establishing its own People’s Administrations in Kawlin, Khampat, and Shwe Yin Aye, seized last month in Sagaing Region.