Showing posts with label EV Zomi Development. Show all posts
Showing posts with label EV Zomi Development. Show all posts

Chin minister attends youth conference in Tedim

29 April 2015 -- Nang Za Mung, State minister of Finance and Revenue, attended a youth conference titled 'Unity and Holistic Development' held in Tedim, Chin State from 23 to 26 April.
At the opening ceremony of the event, the Chin minister, of the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party, read a message sent by Hung Ngai, chief minister of the Chin State government.

The four-day event, organized by the Zomi Community in Singapore in collaboration with the Zomi Youth Association in Tedim, drew participants from across Burma and other countries including India and Singapore.
Their discussions covered issues involving the development of the Zomi youth, and the need to forge closer communication between them in Burma.
A Tedim youth leader said: "It is great that we have the opportunity to meet like this. But this will make sense only if we go beyond the discussion and translate decisions into action."
Meanwhile, 10 youths from Mizoram State invited to the event for teaching English were sent back to their country under the instruction of Chief Minister Hung Ngai.
During 13-17 April, Zomi doctors and nurses provided free medical treatment to 371 residents from Langzang and nearby villages as part of the meeting programmes held in Langzang, Tedim Township.#

Grateful statement to EU and Nippon Foundation FSO projects

A Brief Grateful Statement

S/no - ZDF/50/2015

             A brief grateful statement on account of meetings with the International Sectors of Humanitarian Concerns Agencies such as the Nippon Foundation, the (EU) ECHO of Myanmar, and the Food and Security Operational Projects during the 8th to 19thJanuary 2015 in Yangon.


  The inhabited area of northern Chin State, Myanmar called Zomi area has been isolated and ignored for many years and the realistic environment was never unearth to the outsiders. However, from the 8th to 19thJanuary 2015 the local based organization called Zomi Development Foundation (ZDF) leader Pu Paul Pau and two other Central Committee members had meetings with Dr. Desmond Molloy the Programme Director of the Nippon Foundation and his colleague Programme Director and Project Manager. Then the Head of (EU) ECHO Myanmar- Sir, Nicolas LOUIS, Directorate- General for Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection and his colleague the Programme Manager, Peace Support, Deputy Head of Cooperation and Political Officer. ZDF also met with Mr. Samir Maleh- Country Director, ACF and Mr. Guillaume Foliot- Deputy Country Director- World Food Pragramme.

                Such kind of a meeting is in living memory for the first time submitting the realistic environment in the Zomi history. On behalf of all the Zomi people, ZDF submitted the pestilent natural disaster of plague in Zomi areas. ZDF submitted the future vision and plan of ZDF for holistic development of the rural and isolated communities. ZDF also proposed to the International Sectors of Humanitarian Concerns Agencies working together to eradicate poverty and inhumane condition of the Zomi people. And establish sustainable life; develop personal dignities and human rights. This kind of a friendly close conversation is the first time based on the local Zomi representative. As a result it is the milestone of the Zomi history. We are so grateful to the important persons who we met to, for their attention and positive response. So, in line with the meetings will be positively resulted all in good time in the near future.

                  All in all, as the New Year 2015 begins the new chapter of Zomi history will be started. Because, the realistic environment of the Zomi has been submitted to the International Sectors for Humanitarian Concerns such as the Nippon Foundation, the (EU) ECHO of Myanmar, and their related organizations. This is the paramount important milestone in the Zomi history. In line with the positive response of the meetings will be materialized soon in all good time in the near future. Therefore, it is the endless strong expectation and warmly welcoming statement of ZDF on behalf all the Zomi people, that ZDF and the International Humanitarian Concerns- Organizations will be working together cooperatively for the development of the isolated Zomi people continuously from now and then.

21st January 2015

Zomi Development Foundation (ZDF)

Central Office, No. B/ 59 Lawibual Ward, Tedim Town, N. Chin State, Myanmar

Ph: +95(0) 947072124, +95(0)932387154


Opium Turns Hillside Town Into ‘Widow Village’

KANZAM, Chin State — New Year’s Eve passed quietly in Kanzam, a small village in northern Chin State. While other villages in remote Tonzang Township were busily preparing for a celebration, this one remained eerily still. Kanzam’s old and weather-beaten Catholic chapel was barred shut and entirely without décor. No bells were ringing, no
churchgoers singing, no priest stood in the chapel, once the holy heart of this pious village.
Bordering India’s Manipur and Mizoram states to the west and Sagaing Division to the east, Tonzang Township is Chin State’s most mountainous and sparsely populated area, with little to no access to roads. Kanzam village dates back more than a century, its remaining residents said, and in the past it has been home to up to 100 people. In the 1990’s, they said, a new crop was introduced to the hill-dwelling agrarians. Since opium crept into their lives, the village population dove to 22.
There is not a single living man in his 30’s left in Kanzam. In fact, the village is home to only three males, all around the age of 18. Neighboring villages refer to it with a spooky epithet—Widow Village—because drug use has claimed so many of its men. Only three children attend the local primary school, as their parents tend poppy fields and brew rice liquor in the daytime.
“Drug dealers come through forests on mountain ranges, they don’t use main roads,” Chin State Police Chief Myint Lwin told The Irrawaddy after a recent visit to the desolate town. He explained that dealers from Moreh, in India, and from Sagaing Division’s Tamu and Kale cross into the obscure terrain to buy raw opium, which was in high demand around 2010. At its peak, he said, the product brought in between 1 and 3 million kyats (US$1-3,000) per viss, a Burmese measurement equal to about 1.6 kilograms, or 3.6 pounds.

A rise in addiction followed naturally from increased production, and while the village’s men were the first to fall, women have also become users. Mang Lian Lung, a woman from Kanzam, said that the drug helps her make it through long and difficult days in the fields.As demand waned, however, prices dropped to around 700,000 kyats for the same yield. Despite the steep decline in value, poppy cultivation was still easier and more profitable than most other crops, so production remained steady.
“I became addicted to opium while working at a poppy farm,” she said. “The job is tiring, but smoking opium keeps me active. I know it’s not good, but I can’t help it.”
‘Poppy Made the Mountains Bald’
The rugged top of the Arakan Yoma mountain range bulges through the center of Chin State, the poorest, sparsest and least connected of Burma’s administrative regions. The climate and soils vary throughout the state, where many still rely on traditional agricultural practices.
Villagers said that opium became a hot crop in the late 1990s and early 2000s, when drug and arms dealers from neighboring Sagaing Division paid villagers to take up cultivation. State police said the crop later seeped into other areas in the northern part of the state.
Farmers adapted to the new production cycle: they cut and burn hillside forest in April and May, till in July, sow the seeds in August and September and harvest from December to March. The practice hasn’t gone unnoticed, leaving a distinct mark on an otherwise untouched landscape. A hunter lamented that the felling of large trees to make room for poppy “has made the mountain bald.”
The complete history and scale of the problem in Chin State is still unknown. The United nations has been involved in anti-narcotics activities in Burma since 1974, but the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) conducted its first cultivation survey in Chin State just last year. Only a negligible amount of the country’s 670-ton annual production potential comes from Chin State (most of the country’s opiates are sourced from the “golden triangle” where Shan State borders Thailand and Laos), but the new data shows cause for concern.
Tonzang and nearby Tedim townships were areas of interest when the UNODC made rounds. Its research, drawn from field visits, interviews and various imaging systems, found that about 1,100 hectares of land were under cultivation in Chin State in 2014. A lack of any previous data meant that no trends could be yet be identified.
To those who live there, however, the pattern is clear. Ba Min, chairman of the Kale district chapter of the National League for Democracy, said the drug problem “has become serious,” and that local law enforcement and government officials are exacerbating the problem. Bribery and other forms of corruption are rampant, he said, hampering efforts to curb drug production and trafficking. “It is quite clear who is involved,” he said. “It’s an open secret.”
Chin State authorities said that they have a plan to eliminate poppy production within three years. While education initiatives and some minimal punitive actions are already underway, the biggest obstacle is that the government has presented no sustainable agricultural alternatives in the region.
Authorities and locals are both hopeful that development will ease the dilemma, pinning their hopes on a new road being built from the coarse mountainside to Sagaing Division. Ease of transport will likely make a variety of crops more profitable for farmers, as they will no longer be faced with the choice of selling drugs to traffickers or walking seven miles to the nearest marketplace.

“We don’t grow poppy because we love it,” confessed Mang Lian Kai, one of the three young men left in Widow Village. “We promise, we will never grow poppy again if a road and a mobile network are built.”

Chin Newspapers Try to Turn Page on Govt Ban

RANGOON — An ethnic-language newspaper that was shut down by the Chin State government earlier this year resumed publication last week, while another newspaper was shuttered for a second time after also attempting to restart its operations.
In late September and October, the Chin State government ordered four local unregistered newspapers to cease printing. Among them, the Hakha Post and Tedim Post say they have since received approval to continue their operations after registering, but the latter was again ordered to halt production shortly after printing its first issue back.
Production for the two other newspapers— Zo Lengthe and the Falam Post—remains suspended, their editors told The Irrawaddy, awaiting approval from the Ministry of Information’s Copyrights and Registration Department.

“We registered the newspaper early last month and we received approval for registration last week,” said Pa Pui, editor-in-chief of the Hakha Post, the first newspaper to be shuttered by the regional government on Sept. 29.
The Hakha district administrator ordered the sudden closure of the Hakha Post, distributed in Hakha and the surrounding area in the local Lai language. The newspaper, founded in 2012 and with a circulation of about 2,500 copies, was reportedly shuttered per instructions from the state’s chief minister.

“They said to stop operations until we get the registration. When we resumed operations last week, we had to start from square one since our publication has been suspended for more than two months,” Pa Pu said.
According to the Hakha Post editor, there are more than 20 local newspapers circulating in Chin State, only about four of which are officially registered.
Pa Pui said he believed the order to shut down the newspaper was given because his publication regularly reports news critical of the state government.
“The shutting down of local newspapers by the Chin State government shows that they are not encouraging ethnic literature and media, although they should be,” he added.
Thang Van Lian, chief editor of the Tedim Post, a Zomi-language weekly that was shut down on Oct. 16, told The Irrawaddy that his publication had resumed operations on Dec. 6 after receiving what he thought was registration approval. The Township Information and Public Relations Department, however, ordered the publication to once again cease its operations the very same day.

“We had just resumed publication and only published one [issue]. But now we’ve been shuttered again. I am really disappointed,” he said.
Thang Van Lian said the Tedim Post was published by the Taung Za Lat Literature publishing company, and the Township Information and Public Relations Department claimed that only the company had successfully been registered, not the name of the publication.
“They asked us to register again. It is really complicated. We registered for both publishing company and publication. We don’t understand the procedure very well,” he said.
He added that even though they had reregistered, the process will take at least one month, meaning the newspaper’s 2014 publishing days are over.

Nung Sian Tuang, editor of the Zomi-language bimonthly Zo Lengthe, said officials from the Copyrights and Registration Department had told him that if his registration application is approved, he will be required to submit each issue to the department in Rangoon within seven days of its publication, a potential challenge given Chin State’s remoteness.

Myanmar government has announced that the full report of census will be released in May 2015

The provisional census data which came out on 30 August had nothing to say about the “135” national races of the country. In fact, Minister U Khin Yi, who is responsible for the March-April census, had clarified the figure was “just for quoting,” according to a seminar participant, who is involved in the monitoring of the official head count.

It was deliberately left out because it entails a lot of controversies, he says, such as:
•    Some disagree being in the same grouping (For instance, Dawei in Burmese group: If we are in Burmese group, so should Arakanese.)
•    Some national races find themselves in more than a grouping (For instance, Kebar is in both Karen and Kayah groups)
•    Some national races are named differently as separate national races (For instance, Shan,  Shan Gyi and Tailong, which are synonymous)
•    Some sub- families of the same national race may also want to be separately registered (For instance, Zomi from Chin, and Burmese speaking Shan Ni from Shan)
•    Some are originally from one race but registered as another (“Even U Myint Kying, a census official, admits he is Mon but registered as Burmese”)
•    Designating people who wish to be known as Rohingya as “Bengali” may be technically in error, as one remarks, because it belongs to people in West Bengal of India, though they may be from the same linguistic group like Shans, Thais and Laos are
 “The current mess is the outcome of the top-down planning without consulting those concerned,” he concludes.
The government has announced that the full report will be released in May 2015. A participant also speaks of the government’s plan to hold a conference to clarify the “135” national races “jumble”. No one seems to be sure whether it will be in May  or before that.
Another participant’s suggestion is that waiting for Naypyitaw to clear the mess will not spell the end of the problem. “We must initiate a pre-emptive conference of our own to make sure what the government does is all in order,” he counsels.
The seminar ends with recommendations from the participants. One is to form an Assembly of Civil Society, as during the 1986-96 Guatemalan peace process, to assist in the consensus building, social cohesion; to offer relevant proposals to both sides; to facilitate dialogues; to monitor the process and assist in protective measures. “For the peace process to reach the point of no return, I believe the participation of the people is a must,” says one.
To mark the event, a dinner party was thrown at the House of Memories, where Gen Aung San used to have his office.

If the reader thinks the journal doesn’t do justice to the seminar, please look out for the full report from TNI which should be coming out soon.

Zomi honor Kut celebration in Chandel, Saikul, Tamenglong

Imphal, November 02 2014: Jenny Nenghoithem Suantak was crowned the coveted Chandel district Miss Kut 2014 title beating 16 other contestants in the Chandel district Miss Kut contest held in the premises of Standard English High School, Sugnu Tribal, Chandel district yesterday.

The biggest post harvest festival of Chin-Kuki-Mizo group, Kut, was celebrated at different places across the State amidst fanfare yesterday.

The district level Kut festival was celebrated with traditional extravaganza at Sugnu Tribal yesterday under the theme 'Unity through Culture' with Ngamkholet Haokip of H Kotlenphai as the Kut Pa.

Organised by the District Level Kut Committee, the noon session of the post harvest festival of the Chikim community, was graced by ST Nunghlung Victor, MLA Chandel AC; Nabachandra Singh, president of Kishan Morcha BJP Manipur Pradesh; Ningthoujam Geoffrey, DC Chandel and Thangkholun Haokip, Ex-MLA as the chief guest, guest of honour, functional president and chief host respectively.

Presentation of different cultural dances, choreography and songs by talented artistes marked the noon session.
Apart from witnessing the 1st round of beauty contest for the coveted title of Miss Kut 2014, invited Kut artistes also enthralled the gatherings with their performances.

Village chiefs, social workers, religious leaders, SDO of Chandel and Chakpikarong, SDPO Sugnu, leaders of civil organizations of the district including leaders of Chandel Naga Peoples' Organization, Kuki Peoples' Forum, Chiefs' Association attended the celebration.

Brig Gajendra Joshi, DIG, 28 Sector Assam Rifles; Janglet Haokip, National Council member, BJP and Manglianthang, president of United Zou Organization Ghqs graced the evening session.

Jenny Nenghoithem Suantak was declared the winner of the Chandel district Miss Kut 2014 title and returned home richer by Rs 50, 000 .

Achong Haokip was adjudged the 1st runner up while Olivia Zou was the 2nd runner up.

A cash prize of Rs 30, 000 and Rs 20, 000 each were presented to them respectively.

The sub titles winners were Esther Touthang, Nemneichong Touthang, Jenny Lhingneivah Haokip and Chongneo Haokip.

The post harvest festival of Chikim group, Chavang Kut was also celebrated on Saturday at Bilei village, Saikul subdivision, Sadar Hills amidst fanfare.

The celebration programme organised by the Satang Area Chiefs and Clubs' Association was set into motion by blowing trumpets.

Mass prayer, presentation of cultural dances, songs and Miss contest marked the Kut celebration.

Vice-President of Manipur State unit BJP, Irom Mangiton Singh; social activist Michael; VP of AMWJU Ratan Luwangcha and chairman of CASA Thangneo Touthang attended the Kut celebration as the chief guest, guests of honour and president respectively.

Kuki Inpi, Tamenglong district, Jiri Zone celebrated the Kuki-chin-Mizo group's autumn festival 'Kut' at Lhangnom village, Tousem subdivision, Tamenglong district yesterday.

Divided into two sessions, the morning session of the event was graced by Hatlhing Dougel, ADC member, Tamenglong 10/Phaitol, Santikumar, SDO Tousem subdivision and Paominthang Singson, president Kuki Chiefs' Association, Tamenglong district as chief guest, guest of honour and president respectively.

Chief guest Hatlhing Dougel honoured the various cultural troupes and their respective leaders with shawls contributed by Home Minister Gaikhangam for the occasion.

The chief guest also presented sports material to the locals during the event.

In the evening session, Henjang Vaiphei, CO, 87 Bn CRPF; Kaidoukhup, general secretary Zomi Tribe Council, Jiri and Palal Singsit graced as the chief guest, guest of honour and president respectively.

The cultural troupes presenting items in the Kut celebration programme were Leisangphai-Tatbung, Changjal, Thingcham-T Motbung, Kaimai, Lhangnom, Phaituol, Paite and Hmar cultural troupes.

A Miss Kut contest was also held as part of the celebration

A Zomi Kid refugee in Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: SOME 30 refugee children were given the opportunity to shop for clothes of their choice recently, thanks to Uniqlo Malaysia Sdn Bhd, a leading global Japanese retail company that designs, manufactures and sells clothes.
The children who attended the Myanmar Refugee Community Learning Centre were taken on a special shopping spree at the Uniqlo outlet in Mid Valley Megamall here.
The school’s head teacher Ruth Duat said the children who got to go shopping were those who performed well in the mid-term examination and those who came from a needy family with many siblings.
The kids, aged 9 to 13, were given RM300 each to spend and had the run of the outlet at 8am before regular shopping hours commenced.
A child, Mang Bu, 12, from the Zomi ethnic group, said he was overjoyed to shop for new clothes as he was the third child among five male siblings and his father, a driver, was the sole bread winner of his family.
“We are the first retailer in Malaysia to provide in-store shopping for refugee children,” said the Uniqlo spokesman.
“This is our second programme with UNHCR in Malaysia. Our first project with refugees was in September this year, where we collected wearable used clothes from our customers and set up a mini store at Chin Refugee Women and Children Care Centre here for them to pick clothes.”
Globally, Uniqlo stores have been supporting humanitarian assistance for refugees since 2007 through its product recycling initiative and works with organisations such as UNHCR to distribute clothes to refugee camps worldwide.
UNHCR representative Richard Towle said: “Refugees are ordinary people like us who have been forced to flee their countries because of war, armed conflict or serious human rights abuses.
“While in exile, their needs are the same as ours — family, health, employment, security and a future. However, living in Malaysia without a legal status is difficult and it is a disadvantage for refugees. Their children do not have access to public schools and are denied normal childhood experiences due to living as refugees.
“UNNCR wishes to thank Uniqlo for its commitment towards assisting refugees and we appreciate an event like this. This is a great opportunity for the children to feel like other children. It’s rare that they get to walk out of retail outlet with new clothes.”
On the issue of beggars believed to be refugees, Towle said: “No one likes to see children begging in the streets but the underlining problem here is that they are here illegally and have no work rights. Unfortunately, many families decide to put their children out in streets to earn a living.
“This is something we have to deal with by helping the families to earn a living lawfully and keep refugee children in schools.”
Towle expressed his hope that the refugees would be allowed to live in Malaysia legally and work so that they can live comfortably.
“Refugee children need a future. They must be able to get proper education like other children,” he said.

Zomi journal takes the middle road

Morning star journal in Chin state is community media at its best: non-profit, volunteer-run, all but free of advertisements and providing information to the most impoverished and isolated region in Myanmar.
Published in Zomi, which uses the Roman alphabet, and also known as ‘Zingsol,’ Morning Star serves Zomi communities in Chin state and throughout Myanmar.
Launched by University students in 1996 as a one-page bulletin, Morning Star has grown into a 46-page journal with a distribution of 2,000. Seven volunteers run the paper – a full time job in itself – on top of their livelihoods.
In the months ahead of Myanmar’s first census in more than three decades earlier this year, the small team found itself reporting on a Chin state “identity crisis,” said editor-in-chief Dr Sian Nun Siam, 28.
Dr Sian Nun Siam knew he wanted to be involved with the bulletin the first time he saw a copy, at the Mandalay campus of the University of Medicine in 2006. While he tried his hand at editing, Dr Sian Nun Siam’s peer, Dr Cing Zeel Niang, 27, took on the roles of contributor, distribution coordinator and finance manager. They are both from Tiddim in northern Chin state.
Dr Cing Zeel Niang said the population count created divisions in the Zomi community because of a cumbersome list of 53 sub-ethnic Chin categories on the census form and included in the 1982 Citizenship law.
Many of the sub-categories were archaic and barely distinguishable – or simply family names, said Dr Sian Nun Siam. ‘Zomi’ was not among them but the closely-related ‘Zo’ sub-category was included under ‘Chin’, which created controversy and divisions.
On one side an activist group backed by the Zomi Congress for Democracy Party launched a section 914 movement and encouraged supporters to identify in the census under the “other” section, for groups not listed among the country’s 135 official national groups.
On the other side, university students and activists were wary of section 914 amid controversy over the self-identification of the Rohingya community in Rakhine state and encouraged the Zomi community to identify under a ‘Chin’ sub-category, said Dr Sian Nun Siam.
“But some people felt being labelled as Chin was insulting; it is a name used by the Burmese who don’t know our language,” he said. “The division came from a need to secure our identity and we understand why some groups pushed identifying under 914.”
As one of the community’s only sources of information Morning Star was in the spotlight and stakeholders tried to influence editorial policy to promote their interests, said executive editor Dal sian Amm, 25. He was approached by a supporter of the Zomi Congress for Democracy Party with offers to pay for distribution.
Morning Star is among about 20 Chin newspapers published in different Chin languages and Myanmar but is the only Zomi language journal, said Dal Sian Amm, a former Hong Kong Open University political science student and Pyidaungsu Hluttaw intern.
“Some people want to donate, political parties and businesses, but we don’t want them to have any hold on our [editorial] policy,” he said. “We only advertise a few things – and this depends on if we are short on finances.”
Printing is the journal’s biggest cost at K800,000 (about US$800) for 2,000 copies, said Dal Sian Amm. The team aims to publish monthly, depending on finances.
“When we sell papers we use the money for the next paper,” he said.
Morning Star is distributed throughout Chin state and in Lashio, Mogok, Mandalay, Yangon, Kalaymyo, Tamu and Pyin Oo Lwin. The journal is also distributed in Moreh and other small Indian towns along the northeastern border with Myanmar.
The team coordinates with contributors in Chin state and throughout Myanmar, said Dal Sian Amm. The contributors, who include university students, comment and report on life in Chin state.
“As you know, when you read the newspapers you will not read about Chin state; few reporters go there,” he said.
And conversely, few newspapers make it to the isolated state, in which 73 percent of residents live under the poverty line, according to figures from the United Nations Development Programme.
“We don’t even get Myanma Alin [New light of Myanmar],” said Dal Sian Amm. “Development depends on information and there is a big gap in information and communication – that’s why we are underdeveloped and under the poverty line.”
The March issue of Morning Star, published with the headline “Zomi, where are we headed?”, was distributed weeks before the census began on March 30. It was the journal’s most controversial edition.
“The activist community was sending this message, ‘If you don’t support the 914 code, you are against Zomi,’” said Dr Cing Zeel Niang.
“While activists and local leaders were providing one-sided information, we gave all the facts, pros and cons – the right to choose,” she said.
Some villages involved in the ‘section 914’ movement blocked distribution of the journal and some distributors and volunteers resigned. But, the journal emerged from the controversy as a beacon of independent reporting.
“We try to stand in the middle,” said Dr Cing Zeel Niang.

Zomi Newspapers Shut Down in Burma/Myanmar

RANGOON — Two ethnic language newspapers in Tedim Township, Chin State, have been shut down by the regional government, making them the third and fourth in a month to be shuttered by authorities citing the publications’ lack of registrations.
Editors for the Tedim Post and Zo Lengthe newspapers said they received letters from Tedim Township authorities to cease operations under the instruction of the Chin State government.
“The township authority issued a statement that the Tedim Post is not allowed to publish without a registration on Oct. 16,” Thang Van Lian, chief editor of the Tedim Post, told The Irrawaddy.
Nang Fian Buang, editor of Zo Lengthe, said his publication was also informed that it would need to halt operations on Oct. 16, with township authorities saying publishing would be permitted once the required registration is obtained.
However, Dai Dim, an assistant information officer for the Tedim Township government, said authorities had simply entered into negotiations with the publishers.
“We are negotiating with publishers to register and we haven’t ordered them to stop publication,” she told The Irrawaddy. “We don’t have the authority to do that.” Asked whether the publications would be allowed to continue publishing while they applied for registrations, Dai Dim said she did not know.
The Tedim Post, a Zomi-language weekly founded in July 2014, covers local news ranging from government activities to social issues, as well as Chin cultural topics. It runs a circulation of about 2,000 copies and is distributed in Tedim and Thunzan townships, and near the border with northeast India. Zo Lengthe, a Zomi-language bi-monthly, was founded in 2004 and covers similar subjects, as well as running a circulation of about 2,000 copies.
The publications are the latest victims of a crackdown by regional authorities on the Chin State media.
The Hakha Post was the first unregistered newspaper to earn the ire of the Chin State government,which ordered the biweekly to cease operations at the end of September. The Falam Post, a Falam-language daily, was ordered to shut down in mid-October. The registration process can be an onerous one for publishers in Chin State, who must travel from the remote and rugged western state to Rangoon in order to apply.
The Zo Lengthe editor Nang Fian Buang said that the township authority issued one statement ordering media to register at the end of September and saying that publications would be given one month to comply. Prior to that, Zo Lengthe had been publishing for nearly 10 years without a registration and without incident, he said.
“First they said in the statement that they would give one month and now they ordered operations shuttered on October 16. I want to ask: Is there only 16 days in a month?” Nang Fian Buang said, adding that he had arrived to Rangoon and was preparing to register the publication.
Thang Van Lian told The Irrawaddy that the Tedim Post had asked township authorities about how to register when it began publishing earlier this year, but did not get any information about the application process. The Tedim Post editor said the newspaper was making renewed inquiries on how to go about registering.
The Chin Media Network, a non-governmental alliance of journalists, says there are more than 20 ethnic-language publications produced in the state, four of which are officially registered with the central government.
Salai Hoang Htun Gay, a member of the Chin Media Network, said the crackdown on ethnic language publications was akin to efforts by Burma’s former military regime to suppress the instruction of ethnic Chin languages in schools.
“Because of the ethnically written newspapers, the people can improve their ethnic language skills and gradually understand to value their language,” he said, adding that the Chin Media Network would be monitoring the situation as the shuttered publications apply for registrations.
“We will watch the registration process to see that the newspapers are able to register smoothly and, after they have registered, whether there is any interference from government,” Salai Hoang Htun Gay said, adding that “if the situation is not good, we will hold a press conference or request the support of the Press Council of Burma.”

Government to launch second ethnic TV channel

The Ministry of Information plans to launch another ethnic affairs television channel before the end of next year, a senior official said last week.
The new channel follows the launch of the National Race Channel, which broadcasts in 11 minority languages, in October 2013.
However, recruiting and training journalists and presenters for the new channel is likely to be a challenge, said U Tint Swe, director general of Myanma Radio and Television (MRTV).
“Our priority is to expand the national races section [of MRTV],” he said last week. “But we have human resources difficulties. We have to recruit staff who can speak ethnic languages well and we have to train them to work for a TV channel. That can’t be done overnight. But it will be possible to launch [the new channel] at the end of 2015.”
MRTV has not yet decided which ethnic groups will be represented on the new channel.
When the station launched last year, applicants were barely vetted before being appointed to the sections, he said. The only requirement was they could speak the particular ethnic language and held a bachelor degree, U Tint Swe said.
“We appointed all applicants,” he said. “We just gave them basic journalism training and information on being a public servant and gave them cameras worth K20 million to K30 million.”
The National Races Channel broadcasts ethnic programs in 11 languages from eight groups, namely Kachin, Kayah, east Poe Kayin, west Poe Kayin, Sgaw Kayin, Zomi Chin, Asho Chin, Mon, Rakhine, Shan and Wa.
Each gets two hours a day, except for the Kayin groups, which get one hour each. By early next year it will move to 24-hour programming with the introduction of Pa-O, Kokang and Danu sections.
“We are now recruiting ethnic staff. The additional programs will be on air in January 2015 at the latest,” said MRTV director U Myint Aung.
Each section has 13 staff each and is creates its own programs according to the ministry’s editorial guidelines.
U Myint Aung said that these guidelines include requirements includes to focus on the preservation of the ethnic culture. News about political parties is banned but public protests held with permission from the Ministry of Home Affairs can be broadcast.
Naw Su Mon, a staff member on the Sgaw Kayin program, said a basic principle at the National Races Channel is to steer clear of politics.
“However, I would like to broadcast political news that [is in] the interest of people, both targeted ethnic groups and other viewers,” she said.
While the National Races Channel is currently under MRTV, the ministry plans to make it a separate department before the 2015-16 fiscal year, U Myint Aung said. This should enable the department to expand and ensure language sections are better equipped.
“We have created the basic principles of the new department. Each [ethnic group section] will be led by a gazette officer,” he said, adding that the officer will be from the relevant ethnic group.
Naw Su Mon said she welcomed the plan. “At the moment we are very short-staffed,” she said. “And currently staff mostly have the same rank and position, so there should be an officer who can lead.”