With the reappointment of security and border affairs ministers across Burma, including in Chin State, resistance groups have speculated on what this may mean for the region.
Many assume that the Military Council will launch fresh offensives after the former minister Col Han Win Aung failed to stop the armed resistance forces from becoming stronger in Chin State.
“It indicates they have some problems,” says Salai Htet Ni, spokesperson of Chin National Front/Chin National Army. “They will try to increase military activities to control more territory,” he told Khonumthung News. He predicts fighting to accelerate in Hakha and Thangtlang townships.
Han Win Aung was replaced by Col Thein Tun Aung, who served as the strategic commander in southern Chin State, and the regime replaced the strategic commanders elsewhere in the state. The Military Council also reshuffled ministers for five other resistance strongholds in Karen, Karenni, and Kachin states, and Mandalay Division in early September.
Chin State’s new Security and Border Affairs Minister Col Thein Tun Aung led regime columns during intense battles against the Chin in Matupi and Mindat townships.
Nai John Kein, the general secretary of Matupi Chinland Defense Force, said they received information about an upcoming offensive against them in their region. “We do not know exactly when they will start to launch it but we are prepared and ready to defend.”
Like other resistance leaders, he suspects fighting will escalate this year compared to previous years. The Burma army suffered many casualties when Col Thein Tun Aung served as a strategic commander, Nai John Kein said, and he can’t understand why he was appointed to his new position.
At press time, it was still unclear who will replace him in Matupi Township, but Mindat locals said a new battalion commander was appointed for their township without providing the person’s name.
Salai Ti Mi, the general secretary of the Chinland Joint Defense Committee, assumes the reshuffling means the Burma army will change their military strategies and implement new tactics in the state. The army is quite concerned about defecting soldiers.
“At this time, they aren’t launching a military offensive operation in Chin State. Their military activities are very quiet. As for us, we have prepared to launch (more) offensives…and seize their military camps.”
The Chin resistance seized eight camps in the second year after the coup as compared to only one in the first year since the army overthrew the National League for Democracy government, according to the Military of Defense for the exiled National Unity Government.
In early August, the Military Council removed its Defense Minister Gen Mya Tun Oo, replacing him with Gen Tin Aung San. The reshuffling of five security and border affairs ministers in Burma’s war-torn ethnic states and regions soon followed.
In the middle of July, Military Council Chair Snr-Gen Min Aung Hlaing ordered the Burma army to increase its activities in Chin and Karenni states as well as Sagaing Region.