The Chin National League for Democracy (CNLD) has warned the Arakan Army (AA) not to reference the Khumi people as an ethnic Rakhine sub-group.
After releasing detained ethnic Khumi parliamentarian Hawi Tin on January 21, the AA published a statement declaring that the “Khumi ethnic tribe belongs to the Rakhine ethnic group.” The armed group also said that southern Chin State’s Paletwa Township—which Hawi Tin represents in the legislature—was once a land that belonged to their Rakhine ancestors.
The CNLD has asked the AA to refrain from making such statements about the Khumi, who are also known as the Mro people.
“When we look at our history, our language, our customs and our tradition, the Mro ethnic tribe belongs to the Chin ethnic group,” Shein Tun, general secretary of the CNLD, told Khonumthung News. “Some Khumi people want to be Rakhine but some Khumi people want to be Chin,” he added.
The CNLD asserted that Paletwa as a region is historically part of Chinland, and as a township it is part of Chin State.
Statements like the one the AA released earlier this month could cause misunderstandings between Rakhine and Chin people, the CNLD said. The Chin Youth Organization, Khumi Affairs Coordination Council and Khumi Youth Organization already released similar statements to the CNLD, opposing the AA’s statement.
Khonumthung News called AA spokesperson Khine Thukha for comment on the issue, but had not received a response at the time of reporting.
Hawi Tin, a National League for Democracy MP, was held by the AA for over two months. He was taken into custody while traveling between Kyauktaw Township in Rakhine State and Paletwa in Chin State in November of last year. The AA had alleged that Hawi Tin’s activities had been contributing to ethnic tension in the region between Khumi and Rakhine communities.