The Chin National Army (CNA) is the armed wing of the Chin National Front (CNF), a veteran ethnic Chin political party that has been demanding greater autonomy for Chin State in western Myanmar. Following last year’s coup, it has joined forces with the National Unity Government to collaborate in toppling the military regime.
Salai Htet Ni, the spokesperson for the CNA/CNF, said that they stand in solidarity with People’s Defense Forces (PDF), striking government staff who have joined the Civil Disobedience Movement and ethnic Chin people at home and abroad to fight the junta.
“Now we are in high gear to play a part in national politics as well as building a federal union,” said Salai Htet Ni.
There have been fewer clashes lately in Chin State, but there are rumors that the regime is planning a large-scale attack. Salai Htet Ni spoke recently to The Irrawaddy about the military situation and to what extent PDFs have gained control in Chin State.
How is the military situation in Chin State now?
There are skirmishes in the nine townships of Chin State. But there is no large-scale fighting. We heard that it [the regime] is planning to move into rural areas to consolidate its control, particularly in Matupi and some other townships.
How is the contest between the regime and PDFs in Chin State? To what extent have PDFs been able to take control of the state?
It is fair to say that we have taken control of 75 per cent of Chin State. But we assess that the regime will conduct more military operations in March because the weather allows it [it is easier to travel in the mountainous areas of Chin State in the hot season than in the rainy season].
We can say that the regime has control in the urban areas of Chin State’s townships, as well as control of roads connecting the towns, but they barely have control over rural areas.
Militarily, the regime is operational in urban areas. But in terms of government departments, only 30 per cent of them are operating. Government employees are not going to offices regularly and are not working full time. The military regime is not in a position to control and organize them properly. Only the security forces assigned to towns are managing the local workforce.
What are the difficulties facing Chin revolutionary groups fighting in Chin State?
We are not a match for them [Myanmar military] in terms of weaponry. And we have some problems with the chain of command among local resistance and guerilla groups. But everything else is OK. We have to make good use of all available weapons including rudimentary hunting rifles.
What preparations have resistance groups made in response to possible attacks by the regime this month?
I said we have control of 75 per cent of Chin State, I mean that we have been running our own schools, charities and clinics in almost all the rural areas in Chin except Paletwa Township. That work can be continued only when there is security for the people and the region in the long run.
This year is a real challenge for our national cause and national politics. And we have prepared our best to face whatever may come.
Fierce clashes are taking place almost daily in Karenni (Kayah) State and also in Sagaing and Magwe regions. What is your advice to PDFs fighting the military regime?
Taking a look at the usual practice of the regime throughout history, its military strategy is to use superior numbers in a battle. Normally, it only fights the war on one front. They may be weak if they have to fight on many fronts. We have to be aware of this, and we have to take action to make them fight on as many fronts as possible.
We must have a strategy to split their forces so that they can’t send superior numbers to a single front. It is important that not only resistance groups from Chin but also PDFs from other areas, as well as ethnic armed organizations (EAO), attack them collaboratively and harmoniously. Only then will we be able to split their forces. We understand their common strategy. So we must work collaboratively and make the best use of our strength. EAOs, local resistance groups and any other anti-junta forces including striking employees need to know their strategy and must learn to respond accordingly to any junta moves.
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