Chin residents unhappy that the government re-designated Shwe Aung Tha village from Chin State to Magwe Region protested on Tuesday morning, December 22.
About 30 people joined the demonstration, which included villagers from Shwe Aung Tha. They called on the Magwe Region Forest Department to drop charges against 18 residents who built homes near a section of the village in an area the government has declared as part of the forest reserve.
The government demarcated the border between Chin State and Magwe Region in 2018 after establishing a protected forest reserve.
Gaay Kee, who led the protest in Mindat town, told Khonumthung News that Shwe Aung Tha was established in 1995 in Mindat Township, Chin State.
Formerly it was included in Hlay Cham village-tract. It is now considered part of Htee Lin Township, which is located in the Magwe Region.
“We’re demanding the government return the village to Chin State,” he said, explaining that reclassifying its location violated article 53 (a) and (b) of the 2008 Constitution. The article states that the government must obtain the consent of over half of the residents from an area before it can “re-delineate the territorial boundary of a Region or a State”.
About 100 people from 30 households live in Shwe Aung Tha.
Villagers of voting age from Shwe Aung Tha were part of the Mindat Township electoral roll in Chin State during the 2010 and 2015 election.
However, in the recent race, about 60 were included as part of Htee Lin Township in Magwe Region.