Showing posts with label EV Zomi News. Show all posts
Showing posts with label EV Zomi News. 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.#

Two Police Officers Arrested for Rape of Teenager in Chin State

Local authorities have arrested and charged two police officers from Chin State’s Tonzang Township over allegations of the rape of a 16-year-old girl on the evening of Apr. 11.
The officers, both lance corporals from the small town of 20,000 people, are now in detention at the Tonzang Police Station after a complaint filed by the victim’s father.
“Tough penalties will be given to them and we’ll also take actions against their supervisors,” Col. Myint Lwin, the Chin State police chief, told The Irrawaddy. “We are working to bring them to trial at the district court as quickly as possible. The two have confessed.”
According to Tonzang locals, the accused are close friends of the girl’s family. The pair will be punished by the Falam District Court and the Myanmar Police Force for the crime, according to Myint Lwin.
“We’ll punish them for breaching the police code of conduct. Meanwhile, the district court will also hand down penalties to them for the rape under civilian law,” he said.

Zomi Youth Association (ZYA) to Attend UN Conference (ECOSOC)

The Zomi Youth Association (ZYA), a philanthropic organization of the Zomi based in Kalemyo, locally known as Kawlpi, will attend the 48th Session of the Commission on Population and Development between 7-13 April 2015 at New York it is announced.

Pa Ngul Do Tuang, Vice President and Pa Kam Suan Mung, General Secretary of ZYO HQ is said to attend the UN ECOSOC conference. This opportunity for the ZYA has been organized by the Zomi Innkuan USA, a consultative member of the ECOSOC.

The ZYA’s participation is part of the Zomi Innkuan USA’s effort as indigenous peoples/NGO to take part in the larger dialogue and of being recognized as one of the indigenous peoples of the world.

Zomi Human Righs Foundation sends SoS to Home Minister, India

ZHRF sends SoS to Home Minister

LAMKA, Mar 20: Zomi Human Rights Foundation (ZHRF) has sent a representation to the Union Home Minister seeking his intervention to station all the Sub-Divisional Officers at their respective sub-divisions and cater to the needs of the interior citizenry and bring administration to their respective doorsteps, our correspondent reports.
In the representation, the rights body alleged that civil administration in four sub-divisions of the district has been non-functional since the late 90s. ‘There is no civil administration at these sub-divisional headquarters. The offices of the Sub-Divisional Officer and Magistrate are not functional. To obtain a tribe certificate or a domicile, for instance, one has to come down to the district headquarters where the offices of all the Sub-Divisional Magistrate/Officer are functioning at a camp,’ it read.
To substantiate their claim the foundation attached photos of four camp offices - camp office of Tipaimukh at Apollo Veng, Central Lamka, the camp office of SDO/BDO Henglep located at Hmar Veng, the camp office of Thanlon at Zion Street, Central Lamka, the camp office of SDO Singngat at GCK Veng, New Lamka and the BDO camp office of Samulamlan at Sielmat - that are located within the town alongside a BDO office.
A copy of the representation was also reportedly dispatched to the State Chief Minister Okram Ibobi.
The representation asserted that the non-functionality of these offices have caused immense hardship to the villagers as they are required to travel to the district headquarters at Churachand-pur to receive any benefit from the Government schemes.
Adding to the woes are the pathetic road condition in the interior areas.
‘Besides, the citizens and villagers at the village within the sub-divisions cannot feel the touch of administration as administrations are not delivered at the doorsteps of the villagers’.
The message, while calling for immediate intervention from Home Minister also stated that bringing administration at the doorsteps of every citizen is a duty reposed on the Government by the Constitution.

Zomi Representatives at UN Women Conference CSW59/Beijing+20 (2015)

For the first time in the history of the Zomi, seven women are taking part in the on-going fifty-ninth session of the Commission on the Status of Women takinmg place at United Nations Headquarters in New York from 9 to 20 March 2015. Representatives of Member States , UN entities, and ECOSOC-accredited non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from all regions of the world attend the session.

The seven Zomi women representatives were from the ZIUSA, a Zomi organisation based in USA. They are expected to highlight some of the issues and problems facing the Zomi in Myanmar like the presence of Chin National Front and Manipuri extremists and also the atrocities committed by the Myanmar army in Zomi inhabited areas of Chin State.

The representatives are Siama Ningpi Gualnam, Siama Ciin Vung, Dr. Dim San Nuam, Siama Man Cing Siama Don Ngaih Lian and Siama Ngai Zen Cing.

The main focus of the session is on the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, including current challenges that affect its implementation and the achievement of gender equality and the empowerment of women. The Commission undertakes a review of progress made in the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, 20 years after its adoption at the Fourth World Conference on Women in 1995. The review (Beijing+20) also includes the outcomes of the 23rd special session of the General Assembly, the first five-year assessment conducted after the adoption of the Platform for Action, which highlighted further actions and initiatives.

The session also addresses opportunities for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of women in the post-2015 development agenda.

Suu Kyi, Ethnic Alliance Agree to Push 3-Point Agenda

RANGOON — An umbrella group of ethnic political parties known as the United Nationalities Alliance (UNA) met with Aung San Su Kyi on Sunday and agreed to work with the opposition leader to push a three-point agenda for Burma’s political future.
The two sides agreed that amending the 2008 Constitution, ensuring free and fair elections later this year and the convening of “genuine” political dialogue among Burma’s political stakeholders should be centerpieces of a reform program that began in 2011 but, critics including Suu Kyi say, has stalled of late.
The discussion was held on Sunday at the Naypyidaw residence of Suu Kyi, who serves as chairwoman of the National League for Democracy (NLD) party.
Gin Kan Lian, secretary of the Zomi Congress for Democracy Party (ZCD), attended the meeting and said the joint three-point position would be formally announced within weeks.
“We didn’t discuss in detail and we agreed to discuss these three matters in the future. Both of us will discuss with our respective groups and will issue a joint agreement.”
Suu Kyi and UNA representatives last met to discuss constitutional reform in September 2013, and this weekend’s meeting comes less than a week after President Thein Sein convened a 48-party dialogue that was criticized by some as ineffectual window-dressing.
Gin Kan Lian called the 48-party meeting “chatter dialogue,” with participants only afforded three to five minutes to state their positions and attendees failing to engage in substantive discussion or reach significant agreement.
He did not take a position on whether the UNA would back the six-party talks that Suu Kyi has endorsed, saying only that the alliance supported “genuine political dialogue.”
The UNA has separately called for a tripartite dialogue that would include the Burmese government, ethnic armed groups and political parties, and the NLD.
Thus far, however, Thein Sein has ignored those calls, as well as endorsements by Suu Kyi and Parliament for six-party talks.
The president’s convening of the 48-party talks earlier this month was preceded by a 14-party dialogue in November that was also criticized as a largely substanceless affair.
Sai Nyunt Lwin of the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy told The Irrawaddy: “We will discuss these three agreements with our partner groups and will return to meet NLD soon.”
Dr. Min Soe Linn, from the Mon Democracy Party, told The Irrawaddy that in February the UNA would hold a meeting that would be more inclusive than a gathering it held in December, which saw only 22 groups attend out of an invitation list of 33 organizations with close ties to the UNA.
The UNA says the same 33 organizations will be invited to the February meeting, at which the proposed three-point agenda will be discussed.
“We wanted to find common ground among political parties in order to have future political dialogue. We wanted to get out from the current impasse. We will cooperate with the public on our movement. The government has to pay attention to our movement if the public supports us.”
The UNA is an umbrella group of eight ethnic political parties that was formed following the 1990 elections, when the ruling junta refused to cede power following a landslide NLD victory. Originally it was comprised of 12 different political parties. Irrawaddy
UNA members refused to participate in the 2010 national elections on the grounds that they opposed the military-drafted 2008 Constitution. Some UNA leaders have indicated, however, that they intend to participate in national elections slated for late this year.

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.”

Burma’s Election Commission Rejects Opposition Call for Longer Campaigns

The Union Election Commission (UEC) has rejected a request from the National League for Democracy (NLD) and ethnic parties to double the length of time parties will have to campaign for Burma’s crucial 2015 elections.
The official election regulations will continue to restrict campaigning to 30 days before the polls, according to an election official, although exceptions may be made in remote states where the logistics of campaigning are expected to be difficult.
The UEC met on Wednesday with representatives of the NLD—Aung San Suu Kyi’s opposition party—and five ethnic parties, which proposed amendments to the election rules laid out by the commission last month.
Thaung Hlaing, a director at the UEC, told The Irrawaddy on Thursday that the parties’ proposal to allow 60 days of campaigning before voting day would not be adopted.
“Our chairman has discussed it,” said Thaung Hlaing, referring to the UEC’s chair, Tin Aye, a former military official who was elected as a lawmaker for the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) before stepping down to head the supposedly impartial commission.
“The NLD and the ethnic parties asked to extend the date to 60 days but we have set it out to international standards.”
Thaung Hlaing added that candidates in states like Chin or Arakan, where travel is difficult, can ask for more time to campaign.
“We don’t want the political parties to have to spend more [money] due to a long campaign period. It will also prevent any unnecessary problems which might occur amongst rival parties,” he said in explanation of the decision.
The regulations will govern the 2015 parliamentary election, which is expected to be the first national vote the NLD has contested since Burma moved to a nominally democratic form of government. The rules will also decide how by-elections expected late this year are conducted. The UEC says it will announce the date of those elections three months before the polling day.
Tun Tun Hein, an NLD executive committee member, said the party would follow the commission’s decision.
Ten political parties, including the NLD, suggested amendments to the electoral guidelines published by the UEC in July. On Wednesday, only six parties joined the meeting—the Zomi Congress Democracy Party (ZCD Party), the Human Rights and Democracy Party, the Mon National Party, the Wa National Unity Party, the Kaman National Progressive Party and the NLD.
Tun Tun Hein said the UEC still had to clarify regulations on parties meeting with the media; the definitions of campaigning and rallying; and the time campaigning can begin.
“The commission said an unclear media section has been removed in their amended guideline,” said Htun Htun Hein.
He said that some proposals made by opposition parties had been agreed by the UEC, and that Chairman Tin Aye had promised elections would be free and fair.
“He [Tin Aye] said: ‘Don’t look just back to the 2010 experience, but wait for the 2014 by-election,’” said Tun Tun Hein.
May Sitt Paing contributed to this report.

Burma Govt, Ethnics Discuss Roster of Eligible Ceasefire Groups

MYITKYINA, Kachin State — Ethnic armed groups and the Burmese government’s peace delegation met on Sunday to discuss who would qualify to sign a long-sought nationwide ceasefire agreement, with Naypyidaw seeking to limit the number of signatories while ethnic groups have expressed wariness at such exclusion.
Leaders of the Nationwide Ceasefire Coordination Team (NCCT) held talks with representatives of the Union Peace Working Committee (UPWC) in Myitkyina, the Kachin State capital, in northern Burma after concluding an ethnic summit in the Kachin rebel-held border town of Laiza last week.
The NCCT comprises representatives of 16 ethnic armed groups in Burma, while the UPWC is led by President’s Office Minister Aung Min.
Saw Kwe Htoo Win, a member of the NCCT who also serves as general secretary of the Karen National Union (KNU), said the two sides were trying to set criteria that ethnic armed groups must meet in order to sign a nationwide ceasefire accord.
“For example, those who meet the standard are organizations that previously reached individual ceasefires with the government and ethnic armed groups who have engaged in armed hostilities with the government for their political beliefs,” Kwe Htoo Win said.
He said organizations based abroad that are active in Burma-related campaigns and advocacy work, and overseas groups critical of the government or “anti-government,” would be excluded from the list of qualified organizations.
Currently, the government recognizes 16 ethnic armed groups and the All Burma Students’ Democratic Front (ABSDF) as meeting the criteria for signing a nationwide ceasefire accord, while the NCCT recognizes more than 20 ethnic armed groups as potential signatories.
The government has said two large ethnic rebel groups outside the NCCT, the United Wa State Army (UWSA) and the Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS), would be eligible to sign, but some members of the NCCT would not.
“We will carefully check existing armed groups and negotiate with the government over the criteria and standards that they [the government] lay out. During the Panglong Conference [in 1947], some groups were excluded from signing the [Panglong] Agreement and that ultimately led to civil war. We will try to include all respective ethnic groups [as signatories],” said Salai Lian Hmong Sakhong, an NCCT member and leader of the Chin National Front rebel group.
Only Shan, Kachin and Chin ethnic minorities signed the Panglong Agreement with Burma’s central government led by the late Gen. Aung San on Feb. 12, 1947, while ethnic Karen insurgency leaders were present as observers.
Currently, armed groups recognized by the government as eligible signatories are the KNU, ABSDF, UWSA, National Democratic Alliance Army, Democratic Karen Benevolent Army, Restoration Council of Shan State, Chin National Front, Kachin Independence Army (KIA), Shan State Progressive Party, New Mon State Party, Karen Peace Council, Karenni National Progressive Party, Arakan Liberation Party and Arakan Army, as well as ethnic Pa-O, Ta’aung, and Naga rebel groups.
Smaller, politically oriented ethnic groups such as the Wa National Organization (WNO), Lahu Democratic Union (LDU) and Arakan National Council (ANC), as well as ethnic Kokang and Zomi organizations, are not recognized by the government as eligible ceasefire signatories.
“We can’t exclude any of them [unrecognized ethnic groups]. We don’t want civil war again. Even if they [the government] can’t accept the rest of the groups to sign the agreement individually, we proposed to the government that they accept these groups to sign the agreement under the UNFC [United Nationalities Federal Council],” said Khun Okkar, an NCCT member.
He said the NCCT delegation told the government team on Sunday that it could not accept some of the demands made by the chief of Burma’s armed forces, Snr-Gen Min Aung Hlaing. Particularly unpalatable to rebel groups was a requirement that they disarm, demobilize and reintegrate (DDR) with the military, also known as the Tatmadaw, Khun Okkar said.
The six-point statement from the military, which includes demands on DDR and acceptance of the controversial 2008 Constitution, first came to light in April.
Asked about the DDR provision, Hla Maung Shwe of the government-affiliated Myanmar Peace Center (MPC) said the issue would have to wait.
“We can’t say anything about how to proceed with it [DDR] right now. It is too early to talk about it now. Both the government and Tatmadaw are now focusing efforts on the peace process. We have to think about it carefully later.”
The informal meeting between ethnic armed groups and the government in Myitkyina was also attended by government army officials including Lt-Gen Thet Naing Win, Burma’s minister of border affairs, members of the MPC and local authorities from the Kachin State government.
Despite the efforts of ethnic leaders and the government to develop a common position, military-related matters and political terminology have emerged as sticking points to a nationwide ceasefire accord, which the two sides hope to sign in September.
The Tatmadaw has objected to ethnic groups’ demands for autonomy within a federal union, while ethnic groups have signaled that they cannot agree to the military’s six-point demands.
Ashley South, a Burma watcher who also acts as a senior advisor to the Myanmar Peace Support Initiative (MPSI), a Norwegian government-backed project to mobilize international support for Burma’s peace process, said there has been progress in negotiations over the past year, but added that the window was shrinking to achieve an agreement before elections expected by the end of next year.
“I think the biggest challenge is for the Myanmar government and Army to acknowledge ethnic groups’ demands, and demonstrate commitment to resolving these. One of the other challenges is to recognize the legitimacy of the main ethnic armed groups as representatives of ethnic nationality communities, while at the same time deepening participation in the peace process to include civil society and political parties,” South said.
He added that some of these issues would need to be discussed in multi-stakeholder political negotiations that would include not only the government, Tatmadaw and ethnic armed groups, but also representatives of civil society and political parties.
“It will be a huge challenge to hold such discussions and reach preliminary agreement on at least some key issues, before the elections,” South said.
More than a dozen ethnic armed groups have signed bilateral ceasefires with the government since President Thein Sein took office in 2011, but the KIA and the Ta’ang National Liberation Army have yet to do so, and have frequently clashed with government troops in recent months.
Saw Yan Naing reported from Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Zomi Siamsin Kipawlna seminar a 8 veina

Kawlgam bup Zomi University kah teng kipawlna in kumsim in a neih seminar pen a 8 veina ding hita aa, tutung in, Khalkha khua ah bawl in Ciimnuai Christian Fellowship te in inntek sem ding uh hi. A beisa in, Tuithang khua, Pyidawta cih bang te ah a bawl kawikawi khin uh a hihi.

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.”