Workshops and religious ceremonies will require an application for permission to the Chin State government two weeks in advance, according to the Mindat Township management committee.
The order also applies to international NGOs that wish to hold workshops in the township, the committee’s January 24 statement said.
In the application for permission for such events, the background of the applicants must be reported, along with a biography of the trainers and speakers, an agenda of the training, pictures of any banners used, the number of participants, and recommendation letters from the village or ward administrator and the police station. Only after these materials are provided can permission be considered.
“This kind of thing is controlling our rights and freedom, in my opinion,” Shur Laing Naing, who is in charge of the Chin Social Network, told Khonumthung News. “The current ruling government is limiting these kinds of activities more than the previous USDP [Union Solidarity and Development Party] government. We could do these kinds of activities during the period of the previous government.”
He said that it appears that the current administration is “trying to control religious and civilian affairs as well as buildings” and said that “under a democratic political system, it should not be like this.”
Burma is headed by the elected National League for Democracy government, with key ministries controlled by the military. The former USDP government was a military-backed administration
Government permission must also be sought to repair old religious buildings belonging to the Buddhist, Muslim, Christian, or Hindu faiths. The order comes from the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Culture, according to last week’s statement, and permission must be obtained from Naypyidaw or the state government. When Khonumthung News contacted Chin State municipal minister U Soe Htet, he said that he was unaware of these developments and that the issue had not yet been discussed in the Chin State government.