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In Pictures: Chin National Day celebrated in Mindat

A Chin woman shows off her hair and traditional necklace in Mindat on 20 February 2018. (Photo: Kimberley Phillips / DVB)

Muskets and melodies kicked off celebrations for the 70th Chin National Day in Mindat, Chin State, on Monday, commemorating the remote region’s long struggle for democracy and self-determination.

Events were held throughout the state and in Burma’s capital Naypyidaw, but many hours south of Chin State’s larger cities Falam and Hakha, two districts converged in Mindat.

Mindat played host to neighbouring district Kanpetlet, as the latter lacked both the funds and an organiser to hold their own event.

Though Burma’s home-grown ethnic Chin Vice President Henry Van Thio was not present at this year’s festivities in Chin State — having attended last year for his first time as VP — village chiefs, elders and a shrinking number of tattooed Mun women streamed into the fairgrounds at 7 a.m. for the culminating ceremony and speeches on Tuesday.

Musician Gei Ling Maung told DVB the day was sacred to Chins, who identify it with their decades-long struggle for independence, and in more recent years, a federal union.

“In this time, we do not get absolutely democracy. But, 75 percent democracy, we [have]. We have to try hard to get the federation. So this morning I sung a song [calling for] federation,” he said.

The 70th anniversary comes about two-and-a-half years after the Chin National Front, one of the western state’s main ethnic armed resistance group, signed the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement with Burma’s previous, quasi-civilian government. At a commemoration of Chin National Day in Naypyidaw on Tuesday, State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, President Htin Kyaw and First Lady Su Su Lwin, thanked “the Chin people” for their contributions to Burma’s peace process, according to the state-run Global New Light of Myanmar. Van Thio also attended the Naypyidaw event, the daily reported.

The 70th anniversary comes about two-and-a-half years after the Chin National Front, one of the western state’s main ethnic armed resistance group, signed the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement with Burma’s previous, quasi-civilian government. At a commemoration of Chin National Day in Naypyidaw, State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, President Htin Kyaw and First Lady Su Su Lwin, thanked “the Chin people” for their contributions to Burma’s peace process, according to the state-run Global New Light of Myanmar. Van Thio also attended the Naypyidaw event, the daily reported.

Additional reporting by Libby Hogan