(August 27, 2022) Elizabeth Kendal reports concerning news regarding Myanmar (originally Burma)…
Before the military coup of February 2021, Chin State in western Burma was relatively peaceful, primarily because the Tatmadaw (Burma Army) had no interests in the mountainous, sparsely populated, resource-poor region. In 1988, after the military brutally crushed pro-democracy protests and seized power for itself, the Chin founded the Chin National Front (CNF) and its armed wing, the Chin National Army (CNA), purportedly ‘to help secure self-determination for the Chin people, democracy, and the establishment of a Federal Union of Myanmar.’
Since then, though Chin State might not have faced war in the same way the resource-rich Kachin and Karen/Kayin States have faced war, the Chin have suffered marginalisation (forced into crippling, deadly poverty) and horrible persecution, including forced labour (enslavement), forced conversion to Buddhism and torture at the hands of Burmese troops and intelligence operatives. Still, according to Mizzima (28 July 2022), the CNF/CNA ‘never had more than 200-300 members prior to 2021.’
Mizzima explains how American Baptist missionaries Reverend Arthur and Laura Carson arrived in the Chin Hills in 1899. ‘Now,’ reports Mizzima, ‘over 90 per cent of Chin people are Christians and churches are at the centre of society. Pastors and ministers are very respected and often have leadership roles in society. Every Sunday everyone goes to church, and towns and villages are deserted until everyone pours out of the churches in their Sunday best.