The Zo people are proud of this day because it epitomizes their struggle for a place in the sun, a struggle that began almost a hundred years ago amongst the Zomi of Burma under the banner of the Chin Hills Union Organisation (CHUO).
On 20th February, 1928 the Chin Hills Union Organisation (CHUO) was formed in the Chin Hills of Burma. This was a milestone in the history of the people because for the first time a home-grown political organization was formed. It also laid down the foundation for the introduction of a national day.
The first general meeting of the Chin Hills Union Organization was successfully held at Ware Village, Chin State on 29 September, 1932. The meeting resolved to work together for success in the fields of education, health, economy and social affairs. They also took the difficult and painful decision to drive out the imperialists as soon as possible. In fact, they extended their whole-hearted help in the 1936 Students’ Strike. Subsequently the political momentum picked up with the CHUO submitting nine petitions to the British Burma Government for the improvement of Chin Hills in various fields, including:
[A] to grant equal rights in administration to Zomi similar to other foreign national;
[B] to administer Chin Hills according to the rules and regulations adopted by the Zomi;
[C] to permit freedom of religions;
[D] to allow Zomi to have freedom of relationship with any nationality;
[E] to grant independence to Zomi simultaneously with Myanmar.
There was heated debate between the CHUO leaders and the British on the above memorandum. The Zomi were very angry with the unfriendly attitudes of the British, thus demonstrations against the Government took place in various parts of Kanpetlet. The 36 members of circle Chairmen declared their resignations from the public service in defiance of the detention of Zomi political leaders. Demonstrations against the Government also took place in many parts of the area. They said that they would no longer pay tax and would not also serve as their coolies.
Furthermore, Aung San-Atlee Agreement was signed on 27 January 1947. In line with the agreement, the Constituent Assembly was to be elected to determine future administrative affairs of Myanmar. As such, Panglong Conference was held on 7 February 1947 and Panglong Agreement was signed on 12 February 1947.
Frontier Areas Committee of Enquiry was formed in March 1947 under the chairmanship of the Committee, the Zomi opted to elect their own respective constituent assembly.
At the request of the Zomi, Chin Hills Enquiry Commission was formed with three members on 5 February 1948. The Commission conducted enquiry from 12 to 23 February 1948 and they recommended the introduction of the rule of democratic system of administration in Chin Hills and to grant compensation to the chiefs and headmen.
A general meeting was held in Falam from 19 to 22 February to make a choice on the administrative system in Chin Hills and the election of Zomi representatives. The meeting was attended by over 5000 representatives of Zomi.
On 20 February 1948, the representative of Tedim, U Thawng Za Khup submitted a proposal in the general meeting. According to his proposal the Zomi had suffered untold misery under the hereditary feudal chiefs and headmen. They imposed heavy taxes on the common people. So, the majority of Zomi were in favour of the abolition of hereditary feudal system of administration and they would like to bring about modern democratic system of administration in the Chin Hill.
The popular vote was taken and 5000 representatives voted in favour of the proposal whereas 17 representatives voted against the proposal. Colonialism, the rule of hereditary feudal system by chiefs and headmen were then eliminated for the first time in Chin Hills at this mass meeting and introduced the democratic system which advocates the rule of the people by the people for the people. It is landmark in the history of Chin Hills because it was the first time that all the Zomi were able to hold the general meeting and achieves national unity among themselves. So, 20 February is a historic and meaningful day for the Zomi because all the Zomi were able to achieve national solidarity and unity on this very day.
On 9 October 1950, the Chin Affairs Council decided officially to honour 20 February as Zomi National Day. Since then, the Day was observed as one of the National Holiday in Burma. The Day had been celebrated by Zomi worldwide till today although the Burmese Government officially recorded as Chin National Day. It is, therefore, the fundamental duty of all Zomi to safeguard its National Day, to preserve and maintain its culture, language, religion, and literature if we would like to keep our Zomi identity among the family of nations.