Khonumthung News interviewed Pu Htet Ni, spokesperson for the Chin National Front (CNF), to learn about how the ethnic armed organisation (EAO) has been training young civilians to fight against the military regime.
The Chinland Defence Force (CDF) maintains chapters in all of the townships in Chin State to fight against the military junta. Can you explain more about how the CNF has trained some of these civilian combatants as well as those from People’s Defence Force (PDF)?
Well, young men, also called Generation Z, have joined the armed struggle after the February 1 military coup. They are members of PDF or CDF. The PDF formed in central Burma and the CDF are in Chin State. All of these young men have the same political goal, which is to overthrow the military dictatorship. After the dictatorship is dismantled, they want to return to school or to their job.
We may be part of different organisations, but all share the the same political goal. CNF plans to continue cooperating with them in the future. We need to be prepared to maintain the armed and political struggle for the long term. We can not achieve victory if we are not united. So we have to work together. We should be united because we have a common goal. We will do our best and continue to work for unity among us.
What kind of military training does the CNF provide?
We have mainly provided basic training for (rural) guerrilla warfare and urban guerrilla warfare. The training takes place at our Camp Victoria headquarters. Because it was difficult for some people to come to our headquarters we sent trainers to other areas in central Burma. At that time, the situation was still good. Now security has been tightened everywhere making travel more difficult. That is why we only conduct the training sessions in safe and suitable areas.
What difficulties did you encounter during the training? How do you assess the commitment of the young people?
We have financial difficulties, but this is something we have been struggling with (as an EAO) for more than 30 years, so it is okay. For students and young men, it is the first time in their lives they have endured real hardship. They have participated in basic military training and gone to fight against the military regime. They will definitely face many difficulties on the front line and have to learn how to overcome it. Young men who joined the PDF and CDF believe that they have no future under the military dictatorship. That is why they work very hard and are so determined to get rid of the regime.
How many people went through military training in your camp?
More than 4,000 young men and women have participated in the basic military training at Camp Victoria. We have also conducted training in the other areas under our control. In total, we have already trained almost 10,000 people.
Does the CNF join CDF/PDF during the fighting?
We have discussed with the National Unity Government and agreed that CNF will take responsibility for command and control when we launch military offensives in Chin State. At the movement, we are providing CDF and PDF technical support and military training. We have also trained them to use landmines. Since they do not have any weapons we have given them some weapons and equipment.
What else would you like to add?
The EAOs and PDF and CDF all share a common political goal. We are all fighting against the military junta and we have made a commitment. We believe that we will defeat the military dictatorship. In my opinion, the military council or caretaker government, whatever they want to call themselves, cannot rule the country for very long. The ethnic people have suffered for 70 years. Now these young people from central Burma understand our suffering and our feelings. We will work and fight together against the military junta.
At this time, we do not need to make a distinction between the border areas and the flat lands (central Burma). Everyone has a responsibility to fight against the regime. Both CDF and the PDF will face difficulties, but they have to overcome these problems. We have to defeat the military dictatorship because nobody wants to live under it. We have a responsibility to defeat it together and stayed united during the fight.