By Pu Lian Uk
If we read in Chin Hills volume I by Tuck and Carey, British had annexed India up to round about Chittagong in 1760 and if we read Burmese history the Burmese kingdom was annexed in no serious Burmese resistant war by the British in 1885 in which year the last Burmese king Thibaw was sent in exile to Ratnagiri Island in India.
The English by then newly discovered an independent people which were neither Indians nor Burmese in language and in culture outside India and Burma territories. The people were seen being never ruled by either Burmese or Indians. They were independent by themselves ruled by native rulers in many principalities sharing the same native religion that believed in “life after death”.
The whole people in that vast territory between India and Burma were seen in the same feature and culture as a single people by the British. When they made research on them they found out the name Chin in a stone inscription that was made in round about 750 AD and discovered it in round about 1300 AD.The term Chin is not made so clear from where it came as there are like Aksai Chin in India and the name Chin in China is widely seen among the Chinese society. The soldier who hooked the rope around the neck of former Iraq President SaddamhHussein statue on the day Bagdad was occupied by the US troop was the soldier of Chin probably from USA Chinese origin.
The British thus discovered that it was the people who inhabited a vast territory between British India and British Burma that practiced the language and culture of the people known as Chins in the stone inscription. The reason they practice the same culture was later found out that they shared the same native religion that believes in” life after death”.
Konyak Naga call “life after death” “Yinbu”, Mizo (Duhlien dialect) call it “Pialral”, Haka/Falam/Thantlang area call it “Mithikhua”, It is “Selkhui khaw” or “Thlang duek khaw” in Matupi dialect and it is “Misikhua” or in other name in Tedim and some in Mindat/ Kanpetlet call it “Simikhaw” and some call it “M’htay -khaw”. It has been this belief in “life after death” which molded their similar affinities in culture as they shared the same religious divine law in ruling their society that makes them as a single racial people distinct between ancient India and Burma.
There were no other names they found out that trace back earlier than to 750 AD for the distinct single people between India and Burma. At the same time, they found no trace of the Burmese settlement beyond Monywa till 1500 AD and the whole of Chindwin valley north of Monywa was left to be the Chin territory and that was the reason why the river that flowed from north to south into the Burmese territory below Monywa was named Chindwin as it flowed from Chin territory to the Burmese/Myanmarese territory.
Thus the Chin chiefs were negotiated by the British at the meeting of Chin chiefs and British at Indin which is now in Kalaymyo area by 1888-89. The British asked the Chin chiefs to allow them to make mules road through the Chin territory to connect British India and the British Burma. But the Chin chiefs refused them.
The British then fired gun behind the Chin chiefs in an intention to intimidate them being threatened to surrender to let them construct the mule road to connect British India and Burma as they left Indin to return home. The Chin chiefs took this gun fire as an insulting on them by the British and decided right way to drive out the British from their occupied area around Kalay-Kabaw valley.
They arrested Kalay Shan Saobwa firstly giving him ultimatum that they could release him only if he promised them to fight against the British with the Chins. The Saobwa gave them his promise to fight the British with them and thus he was released. But the Saobwa in betraying his promise at once reported to the British that the Chins were going to drive the British out of this Kalay-Kabaw area waging war against the British.
The British therefore went to the camp of the Chin chiefs to capture them all before they could make any preparation to wage war against the British., but the Chins were no longer there. Rather they constructed a defense fort to defend the Chin territory from the British invasion, waiting the British coming to Chin territory through what is now Siallum Fort.
There was a big battle between the British and the Chins from Buanman there where a British Major Surgeon Leequesne was wounded at the time he was treating wounded British troops. He was for this performance later awarded VC (Victoria Cross), the highest military gallantry medal in the British Empire equivalent to Aung Santhuriya in the Union of Myanmar (UM) and Congressional medal in U S.
That was the reason what led the British annexing the Chin country to construct mule road that would connect the British Burma and British India. “Siallum Fort” is now marked as an historical monument spot and it is worth visiting by anyone to see how the fortress had been built to fight against the invading British troops by the Chin people there. The war monument inscribed by S. T . Hau Go on the pillar of the monument in 1977 read as: –
SIAL LUM FORTRESS
(Battle of Sial lum 4th May 1889)
Mark ye well this honoured spot,
Stained with blood of heroes slain;
They to keep our ancient lot,
Fought a hoarde from Great Britain.
Mark ye th’historic date,
Eighteen eighty-nine May fourth;
When for us who born of late,
They their precious blood poured forth;
Sowed the seed of liberty.
Thus, when the territory of the Chin people was mostly annexed, the Chin Hills Regulation 1896 was adopted by the Governor General in Council that ruled both India and Burma and enforced in every occupied area of the Chin territory since August 13, 1896.
It could be detected that the Chin territory was supposed to be made as a province under a British governor like Burma and Assam provinces, but the plan was dropped out again as there was no way to make bridges to cross over along the two rivers Tio and Kaladan that joined together in opposite directions making the east and west Chin territory impossible to be ruled as a province due to lack of bridges over the two rivers because of no transportation available to bring facilities to build bridges in those days.
The British had made several attempt to make the Chin territory to be a province under a British governor till 1946 to make the Chin territory to be one day as an independent country like Pakistan and Burma though it was in failure due to probably Political change in Great Britain.
Thus the Chin territory was divided into 6 districts.: 1) India side Naga Hills District which is now Nagaland; 2)Lushai Hills Districts, which is now Mizoram ; 3)Chittagong Hills District which is still Chittagong Hills District, the headquarters of which is now still Rangamati ; 4)Burma side Naga Hills District, which is now Naga self-administrative area; 5) Chin Hills District which is now Chin State; and 6)Northern Arakan Hills Tract District which is now southern District of the Chin state, the district headquarters of which was originally Paletwa and now Mindat though it was first moved from Paletwa to Kanpetlet. It was again moved from Kanpetlet to Mindat round about in 1953 in the Chin State.
The first 2 districts Naga Hills district and Lushgai Hills district were put under Assam governor to rule it apart from other parts of Assam with the Chin Hills Regulation 1896. The third district Chittagong Hills District was annexed very early round about in 1760 and ruled it by the Governor of Bengal apart from others with the Chittagong Hills Tract Regulation. The last two districts Singkaling Khamti District and cHinHills District were put under the British governor for Burma to rule them with the Chin Hills Regulation 1896 apart from other parts of Burma province.
The last District Northern Arakan Hills Tract was also annexed since 1876 long before the rest of Chin territory was invaded and ruled by the British governor for Burma province and ruled it with Northern Arakan Hills Tract Regulation similar to the Chin Hills Regulation 1896 ruling it by itself apart from the rest of the Burma province too.
It was the Chin native common religion that believe in “ life after death” which has molded them to have similar culture because the belief in” life after death” makes them have similar native religious divine law to be abode and from there this people between India and Burma were made to have similar affinities as a racially single people with their vast native land of territories larger than Austria nation on the Alp mountain ranges with Switzerland between the Lombardy plain valley and the great plain on Germany side .
In the same way the country of people between India and Burma as Chin country was also located on the Western mountain ranges between the Chindwin-Irrawaddy valley plain and Ganges Brahmaputra valley plain as a natural wall between them. The western Mountain and its people became the real defender of India against the Japanese fascist invasion into India in WWII. Had there not been the Chin mountainous environment and its people India and the allied forces could have hardly repelled the fascist Japanese invasion in the plain of Ganges and Brahmaputra valley plain.
Thus the British governor of Burma and his Secretary for Burma Frontier Areas administration commented on the unsuccessful invasion of the Fascist Japanese even had made a remarked in the introduction of the book on “The Economics of the Central Chin Tribes by H.N. C . Stevenson,F.R.A. L, as the war that India and the allied countries had a great debt of gratitude for this act of the Chin people and their mountainous environment as :-
“One thing is certain, and that is that the Empire as a whole and India in particulars owes a very great debt to these sturdy hill men . At one time they stood virtually alone to face an enemy that had just beaten a great army. Aided only by their mountainous environment and a small irregular force composed of the local Frontier Force Battalion, itself largely Chin, and disbanded Chin sepoys(soldiers) of the Burmas Rifles, the people have succeeded, in spite of their paltry numbers and inadequate arms, in throwing that enemy back from their borders. It is not easy to assess the service they have done us by that lonely stand, but this we can say – that had the Chins let the Japanese pass through on their conquering way into Manipur and Assam, the difficulties that would have be fallen India are beyond computation”
It has been their common native religion in believing “life after death” which makes very adaptable to convert to Christianity as the belief in “life after dead” in Christianity is similar to some extent with their native religious belief in “life after death”. The conversion of the people between India, Bangladesh and Myanmar to Christianity has not been an upside down belief and doctrine conversion.
But it has been just modification of their native religion to Christianity as some kind of minor reformation of native religion belief and concept to the same Christian belief in life after death in heaven. That has been thought to be the main reason why the three sister states in modern time Nagaland, Mizoram and Chin State are now in overwhelming majority population of not less than 85% Christion population in their respective states sharing again the same faith in Christianity as they had shared their native religion belief in “life after death” in their past native religion. As a matter of fact, Chin state is the only Christian state among the 14 states and divisions of the country, Union of Myanmar(UM)
The name Chins was then defined as Chin includes Lushais, Kukis, Nagas, people in the Chin Hills and any person who practice Chin language and culture in the Chin Hills Regulation 1896 and The Chin Special Division Act 1948 which is the amendment of the Chin Hills Regulation 1896. So when the Chin Hills Regulation 1896 was started being enforced in the whole of Chin territory since August 13, 1896, what is now Tedim and Tonzang area took the name Chins as “Khamtungmi”. Later on after in only 1953 that the name Zomi for Chins was adopted. That is Chin= Khamtungmi /Zo-mi;
Falam/Haka /Matupi/ Thantlang areas took the name Chins as Lai/Laimi. Lai/Laimi also is popularly used by people for Chins from Tedim and Tonzang as “Laizomte”. That is Chins = Lai/Laimi=Laizomte. In the same way Mindat /Kanpetlet areas took the name Chins as Cho/K’cho . That is Chin =Cho/K’cho.
Northern Arakan Hills Tract District as Paletwa delegations being sent to Enquiry Committee of Frontier areas to Maymyo stated to the Enquiry Committee in MayMyo in 1947 that they were Chins and thus they wanted to be in the same administration with their brothers Chins. But Paletwa people call the Paletwa native as Khumi which has the same meaning as Laimi meaning “the people”. So we can say that Chin = Khumi. So in calculating all the names together here, it shows that: –
<Chin = Khamtungmi/Zomi=Lai/Laimi= Cho/K’cho= Khumi>:
India has their domestic names in Hindi as Bharat and Hindustan in Urdu. Thus they use Baharat and Hindustan as their domestic national names and India as their international name. In the same way China is their international name and Chunghwa is their domestic name. In the same way Nippon is their domestic name in Japan and Japan is their internal-tional name.
In the same way Chin people have “Khamtungmi/Zomi/Laizomte, Lai/Laimi, Cho/ K’cho and Khumi” as our domestic names and “Chin” as our international name. We use those names as our domestic names daily today and they will never disappear. So there is nothing to worry to make disappear those Chin domestic names as long as we use our native dialects with which we have those domestic names as long as we speak our respective dialects with which we have those names.
What some people mentioned as Asho, Khumi, Zomi (Tedim)Khalkha, Falam, Kanpetlet, Matu, Mara, Zotung, Zophei, Mizo, Lushei, Hualngo, Hmar, Ralte, Biate, Gangte, Vaiphei, Kuki(Thado) and Komrhem are not all racial names. Some are local geographical names and some are family names or clan names.
We have to distinguish them by research work which of these names are geographical areas name and which are clan names. Our problem in distinguishing these local names and racial names are very important especially in the UM (Union of Myanmar).
The reason is the Myanmar ethnic people as majority population among the ethnic people in the UM, they have no the system of having clan names and the system of dialectal grouping system of local area names. That is, he ethnic Burmans/ Myanmarese social structure is much different from the Chin social structure. That has made us a must to have federalism in the country.
What we have now as Asho, Khumi, Zomi (Tedim)Khalkha, Falam, Kanpetlet, Matu, Mara, Zotung, Zophei, Mizo, Lushei, Hualngo, Hmar, Ralte, Biate, Gangte, Vaiphei, Kuki (Tha -do) and Komrhem in the Chin State are based on the Chin Special Division Act 1948 which was an amendment law of Chin Hills Regulation 18 96 as Chin Hills District was upgraded as Chin Special Division though it should be up graded to Chin State at once as a signatory party to the Panglong Agreement.
The Chin state was ruled by Chiefs, Chieftains and landlords before British annexation. British accepted at the peace agreement between Chin chiefs and the invading British troops that the Chin traditional ruling Chieftainship system was accepted and recognized by the British. The Chin chieftain ruling system was that the ruler of any community was to be inherited by the succeeding sons in the clan system.
That traditional administrative system was recorded as the Chin Hills Regulation 1896 as it was the promise of the British troops to recognize the system and the rulerspower provided thatt the Chin chiefs were to give tributes to the British in the form of taxation at the peace agreement between the Chin chiefs and the invading British troops. The peace talk was offered by the invading British troops as they could not have established administrative Headquarters in the occupied Chin territories.
So when the Chin Special Division Act 1948 was written in democratic election system, all chieftainship territories were re organized grouping them based on geographical boundary as Circles. So the names some people wrote as Asho, Khumi, Zomi (Tedim)Khalkha, Falam, Kanpetlet, Matu, Mara, Zotung, Zophei, Mizo, Lushei, Hualngo, Hmar, Ralte, Biate, Gangte, Vaiphei, Kuki(Thado) and Komrhem are in the Chin State mostly geographical local names, not racial names.
Since it was not racial names and it was geographical name people did not care to change the name of circle in numerical names as Circle number 1, 2, 3. Giving numerical names to circles had been completed in Mindat, Kanpetlet and Falam sub divisions or townships peaceably without any protest. Had the circle name been in racial or clan names, people were to protest it seriously.
The circle names in numerical names in Tedim, Tonzang, Haka and Matupi , Thantlang was also to be continued on. But it was stopped for the country government was over thrown by Burma army to rule it in Burmese way to socialism. All circle formation was abolished and village head man system was adopted and village clerk were appointed with clerical standard pay and the clerks could be transferred to township office as their village clerk rank.
So the reason we could say was that this circle names are not tribal names and also it had no racial boundary. It was divided for administrative convenience there. There are several clans in mixed in a circle. So all those circle names written here like Mara, Zotung, Zophei, Matu, Hualngo, Kanpetlet, Falam, Zomi (Tedim) Khalhkha are all geographical area local names and not racial names.
When we say geographical local area names, they are just local address name. People in the circle cannot take their circle names with their names to everywhere as they do family names like Sukte, Kamhau, Hlawnceu, Cinzah. If they take the circle names like family names the circle name could not serve as address of the person concern as his address.
The name Zomi is not only for Tedim too. It means the whole Chins as it originally was used for the whole Chins. Thus what we are to be careful is we could not take this several names to be the many different racial names as there are geographical local names of address not necessarily of clans or tribal or racial names.
Since Burmese/ Burmans/ Myanmar have no dialectal group local area and clan system the ethnic Burmese cannot have the idea of these two categories of our Chin society. They just took that any people who speak different dialects are all different nationalities. But that is totally wrong in the chin society. The Burmese ethnic people in general rarely have interest to see any good to be interested in Chin social structure and that they have no interest about Chins in good intention. What they could see on Chins is in pessimistic and nothing in optimistic.
That has been why they made columns of nationalities all wrong for the Chins in the census as they took everything only in the ethnic Burmese way. That is the reason why we need federal constitution in the country so that we could deal our way smoothly in our respective way that could allow us by our different environments.
It is like if you buy a shoes too small to fit with your feet, you do not cut your feet to fit in the small shoes. But you buy the larger shoes that will fit your feet. In the case of us being with the ethnic Burmese who boast themselves as majority, it is like if they ask us to cut our feet if the shoes they buy us is too small to fit in our feet, think of how rude it is. It is really an inhumane concept. Tha is why we need the Unuionof Burma in federalism so that the ethnic Burmese have equal rights with the rest of other ethnic people and will not have no way to intervene in other ethnic affairs at their own will as before.
So you can understand what the Burmese majority want to dominate us even to cut the flesh of our feet to suit the shoes they buy us. That is a very good example we can give to be under the domination rule r of the Burmese ethnic people.
Actually America is not a racial name. It is a geographical name. So there is no people in the name which is Americans in US. The people of the United State do not take that they are racially Americans. In the passport there is usually a space where the passport owner nationality be written. But for the people of the United states of America they write in the space of nationality name as. “Citizen of the United States of America”.
In the case of the Union of Myanmar (UM), it is a country that has joined together the territories of 1) Chins, 2) Kachins, 3) Shans, 4) Myanmar 5) Karenni, 6) Karen, 7) Arakanese, 8) Mons. The eight territories is jointly known as the Union of Myanmar or Burma.. Thus there is no a racial people known as the Union of Myanmar or Burma. The Union of Burma is just the name of a territory formed of eight territories of eight people formed under the Palong agreement just 68 years ago in 1948 . Thus the name Union of Burma is just a geographical name like USA.It is a geographical name for 8 territories joined together under Section 2 of the constitution of Union of Burma 1947.The country in the name Union of Myanmar or Burma is not owned by any racial people not by Shans or not by Myanmar or Burmans or others in the Union.
Myanmar is the name for people who historically are Burma or Myanmar since the first kingdom of Myanmar or Burma was founded by the first king of Myanmar , Anawrahtha in 1044 AD. . The name Myanmar is written form of Burma and the name Burma is spoken form of Myanmar according to a saying in Myanmar literature as” Ye a hman, phat a than”. That is Myanmar is the written form of Burma and Burma is the spoken form of Myanmar in the accent how Myanmasr is pronounced and read.The two terms mean the same people Myanmar or Burma.
T he country Union of Myanmar or Burma is thus not owned by a single people Myanmar or Burma, It is owned jointly together by the eight peoples 1) Chins, 2) Kachins, 3) Shans, 4) Myanmar 5) Karenni, 6) Karen, 7) Arakanese, 8) Mons. The country Union of Burma or Myanma is owned by the citizens of these eight peoples as the citizens of the Union of Myanmmar or Burma as the “citizens of the Union of Burma” in the same way. Ethnic Myanmar are also citizens of the Union of Myanmar. So in the passport of the people in the Union of Burma, everyone is to write in the passport space of nationality as “citizen of the Union of Myanmar” and that is what the citizens of the Union of Myanmar/Burma is in truth according to any constitutions of Union of Myanmar before or in the future.
No racial people completely own the territory of the Union of Myanmar. The constitution of the Union of Burma 1947 section 2 mentioned which territories have been the Union of Burma comprised. If we trace back the section 2 which territories have been the Union of Burma comprised, there will appear what territories the Union of Myanmar have comprised, because those 8 peoples all are not historically Myanmar. The name Myanmar is not to swallow the rest people as Myanmar chauvinism. The whole territory of the “Union of Burma” is not owned by the Myanmar or by any people in the Union.
This is the way things work and that is the reason why the Union of Myanmar be in federalism so that one racial people should not dominate the whole territories except their respective state territories that jointly form the federal Union of Myanmar. That is the reason why it is needed to distinguish the names of local geographical Areas from clan and racial names. Lnk.