Govt criticized for holding training on Sunday in Chin State Featured

Schoolteachers participating in training in Hakha, Chin State (Photo: The Chinland Post) Schoolteachers participating in training in Hakha, Chin State (Photo: The Chinland Post)
28 May 2016 - The new government led by the National League of Democracy has been slammed for organizing school teachers' training on Sunday in towns across Chin State.

According to the State Education Department, the training, which took place from 10 to 23 May this year, was held under the directions of the Union government.

Ling Ning, deputy head of the Hakha Township Education Department, said in the Chinland Post: "We are told by the Union government, not by the State government, to hold this training that spans two Sundays."

"We wanted to organize it skipping Sundays but we could not postpone the dates as they would coincide with school admission," he said.

Hlawn Cer Lian, a schoolteacher who participated in the training, said that although they had not wanted to miss Sunday worship services, they, as government employees, were required to attend the event since it was from the central government.

Chin Christian leaders expressed disappointment over the government's decision about the event's schedule, arguing that Sunday should be the day for Christians to worship.

Rev Joel Nawl Cung Lian, general secretary of the Hakha Baptist Association, said: "We discussed this issue with President Thein Sein [when he visited Hakha] and he actually agreed with us. I don't know what happens again now. I really wish this didn't happen again in the future."

The previous successive authorities had been criticised for convening meetings and holding events on Sundays in the country's western state with its majority population being Christian.

"This is an issue where two intersecting rights are violated at the same time. The first is the freedom to freely worship, which is an intrinsic part of the right to freedom of religion guaranteed by international human rights law. And the second is possible infringement of labor rights where public employees are made to work without compensation. This was a routine practice under the previous regimes. What is unfortunate is that this tradition is being carried on by the new government," says Salai Za Uk Ling of the Chin Human Rights Organization.

Rev Dr Samuel Ngun Ling, principal of the Myanmar Institute of Theology, said that it was a clear indication of limits on minority rights and religious freedom, adding: "The new government should take this seriously."

The training aimed at improving teaching conditions at school to become 'child friendly' was organized by the government in partnership with UNICEF.#

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