Around 70% of Western Myanmar’s Chin State Controlled by Resistance

By The Irrawaddy 8 September 2022

The Chin National Front (CNF), a signatory to the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement, is fighting the military regime in western Myanmar’s Chin State alongside the resistance groups that have sprung up since last year’s coup.

It is also cooperating with the parallel National Unity Government (NUG) on both the political and military fronts. The CNF has been fighting the junta since a few months before the NUG declared a defensive war against the regime on September 7, 2021.

CNF spokesman Salai Htet Ni talked recently to The Irrawaddy about how the political and military situation in Chin State has changed over the past 18 months.

How has the CNF’s military strategy changed since it started fighting regime forces?

We now better understand their tactics and also better comprehend that collective strength is the key to victory. As for weapons, previously we had only rudimentary hunting rifles, but we now have better weapons such as automatic rifles. The chain of command has also improved. And our side has suffered fewer casualties, but junta casualties have increased.

Is the CNF now going on the attack against junta troops?

Clashes are occurring in various parts [of Chin State]. With better weapons, we are well-equipped to seize their [regime] outposts in the Chin Hills. But we mainly carry out guerilla attacks, ambushing them when they travel from one place to another. We fight by a combination of attack and defense.

CNF spokesman Salai Htet Ni.

How has the regime’s strategy changed over the past year?

Previously, junta forces attacked simultaneously in two or three places. They traveled along the Pakokku-Matupi Road to the Matupi headquarters [of the Myanmar military], while another column traveled the Kale-Gangaw Road to the military’s Hakha headquarters. But now they are fighting on only one front with large numbers of troops.

Why do you think the regime’s strategy has changed?

It is possible that they are now too undermanned to spread their forces out. And the junta troops that have come from other regions have little knowledge about the terrain in the Chin Hills. Previously, the military attempted to crush resistance groups one by one. But we fought back with combined forces.

There have been fresh clashes between the Arakan Army (AA) and the junta on the border of Rakhine and Chin states. How will that affect the revolution in Chin State?

The AA is one of the powerful ethnic armed organizations (EAO) in Myanmar. It appears that the regime will have to fight on a new exhausting front there. So the AA’s involvement in the fighting is a shot in the arm for our Spring Revolution, but a blow to the regime.

How much of Chin State does the CNF now control?

We can say that we – local resistance groups and civilians – now control over 70 per cent of the territory in Chin State. The regime has control only over towns and some main roads. We have assumed the responsibility for providing public services, including health and education, in the areas we control.

How is the relationship between the CNF and the NUG?

We maintain regular discussions with the NUG, and have been cooperating with it militarily and politically. We have been cooperating militarily under the Central Command and Coordination Committee [which includes leaders from the NUG and EAOs and engages with People’s Defense Forces (PDFs) across the country]. There are some delays, but I can say that we are making progress.

The regime said it plans to hold an election next year. What is the CNF’s view on that?

The regime believes that holding an election is a way out of the political crisis it is facing. It is just to deceive the international community and to try and make the rule of the Myanmar military last forever. If the election takes place, all the efforts of civilians, EAOs and resistance forces will be in vain. So we totally denounce and oppose any new election staged by the regime.

We are fighting the regime to end the military’s role in Myanmar’s politics. We are not alone in working towards that end. This is the reason that people have joined the Civil Disobedience Movement and students have left the towns. It’s not just the election, we have to oppose whatever the regime does.

What do you want to tell the Myanmar people?

All the groups fighting the regime including EAOs, the NUG and PDFs have to continue to accelerate their efforts. We have to strengthen ourselves every new day and work together. I urge the people to continue to stay strong.