Zomi Education Centre, Taman Cheras

Transforming Lives Through Education   




History of the Zomi

 Historically Zomi, meaning “People of Zo,” is an ethnic group with many dialects residing primarily in Chin State, Burma. There is an estimated 150,000 Zomi people in Burma. About 80,000 reside in the Manipur and Mizoram States in India. Others are scattered all around the world in countries such as USA, Canada, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, New Zealand and Australia. The Zomi people fled their homeland due to persecution, forced labor, and torture.

Persecution

As 99% of the Zomi people are Christian, the military government’s persecution of them is severe. The government destroys the churches, cuts down crosses erected by the Zomi people on the mountains and peaks, and gives orders to close the churches. Some military personnel arrest people without conviction and detain them until they can pay a large bribe.

The military junta which made its way to power through a bloody coup in 1988 has ruled the country at gunpoint. Preoccupied by the idea of “national unity or unifying the country,” Burma’s military regime has embarked on a policy of creating a single national identity based on the policy of “Amyo, Batha, Thatana” or “One race, One Language, One Religion” in other words “to be a Burman is to be a Buddhist” through assimilating all identifiable ethnic minority groups into the mainstream Burman society, a dominant ethnic group with which the regime identifies itself.

Today, the impact of Christianity is not only confined within the spiritual and cultural contexts of the Zomi, it manifests itself as a uniting force for different Zomi communities. With their conversion to Christianity, the Zomi embraced one another as members of a community of faith in Christ. At the same time, there developed a new self-consciousness and political awareness of Zomi cultural homogeneity, thus providing a new framework for Zomi nationalism.

Since the first Zomi conversion to Christianity in the early 1900s following the arrival of American missionaries, Christianity has been deeply entrenched in Zomi society and has become part of the Zomi cultural identity. Burma’s ruling military regime is systematically persecuting Zomi Christians in order to replace Christianity with Buddhism and assimilate them into mainstream Burman culture. Evidence demonstrates that the military regime is using religious persecution as a tool of ethnocide against Zomi Christians.