Chin political parties issued a statement criticising the Chin State Government on 28th October for not supporting Chin media and banning the publication of four ethnic language Chin newspapers.
The statement said that they could not accept the State Government’s actions because the role of media in the current climate of political change is very important and media in Chin State is jut in its infancy.
Pu Chan Hlan central executive committee of Chin Progressive Party said: “I think our state government should support our state media. Instead of banning publications they should tell them to register because media is so important for a country. By banning local publications people will not have access to local news about what is happening in their state. On the other hand it will also make it harder for the government to know what the people really want.”
The Chin State Government has banned four newspapers: the Hakha Post, based in Hakha, on 29th September; the Falam Post, based in Falam, on 15th October; and the Tiddim Post and Zo Lengte, based in Tiddim, on 16th October.
All the newspapers were printed in ethnic Chin languages.
Because the newspapers were not properly registered the Chin State government threatened them with legal action unless they stopped publishing immediately. They also ordered them not to publish again until they are correctly registered.
Salai Kyeo Beak Htaung secretary of Chin National Democratic party said: “I think the Chin state Government has misinterpreted the law. We assume that because they are making threatening noises rather than supporting emerging media in Chin State they are not in harmony with the country’s ongoing reforms.”
The constitution states, in chapter (8), section (354) that people are: “free to express and publish freely their convictions and opinions” and that they can: “develop their language, literature, culture they cherish, religion they profess, and customs without prejudice to the relations between one national race and another or among national races and to other faiths.”
U Ban Kyine, state parliament representative from Ethnic Nationalities Development Party (ENDP) based in Loi-Lan-Pe village, Matupe township, Chin State said: “If the Chin State Government behave like that it will weaken people’s knowledge and education. Nowadays because the media need to register the government should be helping them with that.”
The political parties also pointed out that the Chin media is benevolent and that no publications would destroy or damage the Chin state or the country. They also help to preserve Chin languages and Chin literature and rather than trying to block them the state government should be supporting them.
Salai Kyeo Beak Htaung said: “They are doing this because they are afraid of the media. The Chin prime minister used to be in the army and most army men are afraid of the media. By behaving this way the Chin State Government will lose the trust of the people. We have to question whether they will ever accept any political change.”
Translated by Aung Myat Soe English version written by Mark Inkey for BNI