The Chin National League for Democracy (CNLD) has spoken out against the government designation of a village they say is part of Chin State into Magwe Region for the upcoming general election on November 8.
The CNLD released a statement on October 19 outlining how Shwe Aung Tha village was considered part of Lei Chan village tract in Chin State’s Mindat Township in the 2015 election. The current National League for Democracy (NLD) administration has categorized the community as part of Htee Lin Township in Magwe Region, a designation that the CNLD rejects based on historical records of the area.
“We won’t accept this matter. When we look at history, this location belongs to Chin State in the 2010 and 2015 general elections. The NLD government has shifted it for the 2020 general election,” Salai Ceu Bik Thawng, CNLD general secretary, told Khonumthung News. “If they do this, they are creating a crack in the Chin border,” he added.
The General Administration Department re-classified Shwe Aung Tha village as part of the Magwe Region on December 31, 2018.
The CNLD is calling on the Union Election Commission to ensure Shwe Aung Tha is redesignated as part of Chin State, but the state’s election commission has said that the decision is out of their hands.
“According to the report of the interior ministry, the village doesn’t belong to Chin State. That’s why we transferred this voter list [to Magwe Region],” Lin Kyaw, secretary of Chin State’s election commission, said. “We cannot take or give the voter list by ourselves. It depends on the data from the interior ministry,” he added, referring to Burma’s Ministry of Home Affairs.
The Mindat-based civil society organization Third Eye has long reported problems surrounding the demarcation of borders between Chin State and Magwe Region, which they say remain unresolved.
“What I understand is that the location belongs to Chin State. If the demarcation line is drawn based on a protected forest, it will be located in Magwe Region,” Third Eye’s Salai Mang Oum explained. “The previous and current parliament have not been able to discuss and solve this issue. Therefore, we still have this kind of problem.”
Shwe Aung Tha has 30 households home to around 100 people. Among them are nearly 60 eligible voters.