It was just like a Sunday in Chin State, with the majority of its population being Christian, although it was a normal Friday in a Burmese calendar. Actually, it was the 20th of February, Chin National Day, celebrated in commemoration of the day on which the Chin voted for a change of government to a democratic system in the 1948 conference held in Falam.
The day was born as a result of several public meetings and years of struggle against issues including colonialism, feudalism, forced labour and excessive taxes across the then Chin Hills in which the people were ruled by tribal headmen and chieftains through the appointment of the British authorities.
This year's celebration, organized on a grand scale by communities in association with the State government, marked the 67th anniversary of the historic day. The significance of the day, whose celebrations had been prohibited for decades by successive Burma's authorities, has again become widely known across the country and got better, not yet official, recognition after President Thein Sein together with some Union ministers attended the Hakha event.
In 1951, Prime Minister U Nu attended the first Chin National Day celebration in Mindat town after the Chin Affairs Council had officially decided in the previous year to designate the 20th of February as Chin National Day.
One of the provisions in the Union level peace-talk agreement in 2012 between the Chin National Front and the Union Peace-making Work Committee of Burma's government states: "It is agreed that the Government of Chin State shall take forward actions to re-recognize the 20th of February as Chin National Day as a public holiday in Chin State in recognition of the occasion as a day cherished by the Chin people."
As of today, the State government has not yet implemented the agreement although it has, notably since 2013, put effort in taking part in making the celebrations possible and made arrangements including the postponement of the 4th and 8th Grades examinations which coincided with the event this year.
The new State and Union governments have made several attempts to impress the peoples with their attractive development and economic initiatives. But they would not just earn the public trust until and unless their words are translated into action with tangible results.
One of the key factors that can make the Chin, like other ethnic groups, start to believe in the government is whether it can deliver on its promises. Clearly, the Chin observe the 20th of February as one of the most significant days and as the very day that a democratic system of administration was achieved.
Taking the above-mentioned points, among many, into consideration, the government should stop procrastinating and start designating Chin National Day as a public holiday in Chin State.#