‘Our victory is close… We must win’: CNF
By The Irrawaddy 17 February 2023
Despite being a signatory to the 2015 Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement, the Chin National Front (CNF), established in 1988 as the political wing of the Chin National Army (CNA), has been fighting the junta since the 2021 coup.
The CNA is fighting in Chin State and neighboring Magwe and Sagaing regions alongside resistance groups, including the Chinland Defense Forces (CDFs).
The CNF is also working with many ethnic armed organizations (EAOs) and Myanmar’s civilian National Unity Government (NUG).
The CNF vowed to uproot the dictatorship in its new year address last month and rejected the junta’s planned election. The regime has been bombarding Chin State, including attacks on the CNF headquarters, most days this year.
Salai Htet Ni, the CNF’s spokesman, recently told The Irrawaddy about revolutionary plans for 2023.
What are the CNF’s plans for 2023?
We EAOs have arranged with the NUG to uproot the regime in 2023.
Five EAOs, including us, and the NUG agreed to accelerate our operations against the junta.
We have been stepping up operations since 2021 and working with resistance groups, as we have the same goal.
Our efforts to uproot the regime depend on how much we cooperate. We plan to escalate our attacks as much as we can.
Which EAOs are involved?
The Karen Nation Union, Kachin Independence Army, Karenni National Progressive Party, All Burma Students Democratic Front and CNF are involved in this project alongside the NUG.
How about cooperation with the Chinland Defense Forces?
We have formed the Chinland Joint Defense Committee to cooperate with other groups. There are 17 CDFs, including us. We have been fighting together. We also have formed special forces with some fighters from each group. They are also fighting the regime.
How much control do resistance groups have in Chin State?
Chin communities can implement people’s administrations across the state. The administrations are solid and strong. Our groups have managed to extend operational camps across the state. Our troop deployments have expanded across the state.
There is only one junta hilltop camp left near Thantlang. There are no other camps or police stations in the area.
Junta outposts on the Indian border have also been abandoned. In the past, heavy deployments crossed the state. Now there are none. Instead, that junta relies on helicopters to distribute rations to its troops.
Regime forces are deployed in nine Chin State townships. We prevent them from leaving the towns. There are no rural operations.
Was there a junta reaction after Chin forces occupied Thantlang police station?
Junta fighter jets and MI-35 helicopters hover over Thantlang near-daily. Reinforcements in three vehicles from the state’s capital Hakha were unable to reach Thantlang. But bases in Hakha have been shelling Thantlang with 120mm artillery rounds daily.
How about junta airstrikes?
Junta has been conducting airstrikes on our state. Clashes continue in Matupi Township, southern Chin State, where a junta strategic command is based. But there were no airstrikes in the clashes. Recently junta jets bombarded Mindat Township. The junta uses aircraft as it can’t win on the ground. And then it imposed martial law across the state.
Has the junta changed its tactics in Chin State?
Junta chief Min Aung Haling recently said the EAOs’ headquarters are centers for building the resistance.
But the junta cannot conduct operations on the ground and has lost control.
That is why the junta targets our headquarters with airstrikes. It also bombs both civilian and resistance targets. This is a new tactic.
But due to the mountainous geography, the airstrikes can’t affect our state.
How do you defend against junta airstrikes?
Information about junta flights is very important for us to protect ourselves against the airstrikes.
We scatter our forces when aircraft approach. We also try to make civilians safe.
We continue to take control of more territory no matter how many aircraft the junta uses. If we can control more areas, the regime will be defeated.
Do you have any comment for the international community, including the UN, about junta atrocities?
To topple the regime and build the political system that we want, we are fighting as best we can.
We really thank the United Nations Security Council and ASEAN for their resolutions against the junta.
But they are responsible to implement them practically. We are pleased with their resolutions but we need practical action.
Will junta atrocities increase?
Min Aung Hlaing is trying to commit the most atrocious acts of brutality. Our whole state is under martial law. He is conducting indiscriminate airstrikes across the state each day. This is the worst situation. He plans to conduct clearance operations in our territory after airstrikes.
It is his new tactic. Other areas will face similar situations to ours.
We all are responsible to stop the junta airstrikes.
We all need to find ways to destroy the airbases as we have no anti-aircraft weapons or planes.
Does the CNF have an action plan against the election?
We object to organizations or individuals cooperating with the junta or accepting military rule and any election.
We already have taken action against some of them.
We will keep taking action in the future.
We appeal to our people not to accept and collaborate with the junta. We are determined to oppose everyone working with the junta and not uprooting the regime.
Will the CNF further expand its operations?
We are connecting with resistance forces in neighboring Magwe and Sagaing regions as much as we can.
We also have military cooperation agreements with up to three resistance groups on the plains.
We also share tactics with resistance groups. We have planned attacks in their areas.
What improvements can you report?
In Chin State, people’s administration groups led by CDFs have been established in each township. We also have arranged policies to run their administration and governing processes strongly.
We are planning for the people’s administrations to run the whole state.
We work to let the international community know about atrocities and human rights violations committed by the junta. We also try to secure international humanitarian aid.
Do you have any message for EAOs collaborating with the junta or not joining the revolution?
Many other EAOs uphold the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement with the junta while many others fight the regime. Some groups that do not fight the junta still have the same goal as us.
EAOs that don’t fight the junta need to avoid obstructing our revolution.
Cooperating with the junta is contributing to military rule. Their cooperation helps the junta to be trusted and recognized by other countries.
We invite them to join the people’s revolution or at least not build barriers to our revolution.
Do you have any comments about the NUG?
We have signed an agreement with the NUG for the revolution as we have the same goals to uproot the dictatorship and build a federal union. The NUG is trying its hardest but there are improvements to be made.
We always need more unity. We must not be subdued until we reach our goal.
What would you say to regime soldiers?
According to prisoners of war and junta soldiers who have surrendered to us, many regime troops know nothing about the 2021 coup and the revolution.
Many have been brainwashed into thinking we will kill them if they surrender and that the Chin hate other nationalities.
The real attitudes are different. This revolution involved the whole country and soldiers can become civilians again.
We always welcome defectors. It is never too late to join the revolution.
Has the revolution been successful?
We are winning in our revolution as we see the strengthening attacks across the country, including Chin State, as well as the strong public support.
The resistance groups are more united and determined to attack the regime despite their lack of experience.
Educated resistance fighters manage to produce rockets and explosives where they used to use hunting rifles at the start of the revolution.
Resistance fighters are becoming stronger and more determined to fight the junta. The momentum is growing.
When do you expect a victory?
It depends on how much we are unified, militarily and politically. If we are more united in cooperation, we will win quickly. The revolution depends on our abilities.
Do you have a message for the people?
For two years the regime has been struggling to be recognized internationally as a legitimate government but it has failed.
The junta is making the country a failed state. All revolutionary forces need to keep fighting until the end. Our victory is close. We need to increase our attacks. Don’t get depressed. We must win.