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“More than 70 percent of Chin State’s territory is under our control.” – Salai Htet Ni, Spokesperson of the Chin National Front (CNF)

An interview with Salai Htet Ni, Spokesperson of the Chin National Front (CNF)

November 22, 2022

During the Spring Revolution, the military council conducted a major military operation called “Operation Anawrahta” in Chin State, whose people were the first to revolt against the military dictator with Tumee rifles, for which the regime called up a large number of troops from Magway and Sagaing Regions in early October 2022.

It has been more than a year and a half since the Chin National Army (CNA) and the Chinland Defense Force (CDF) resisted the advancing junta troops in large numbers.

Salai Htet Ni, spokesperson of the Chin National Front (CNF), was interviewed to learn more about the current military and political situation in Chin State.

Q: What’s the current military situation in Chin State?

A: Now that the rainy season is over, it’s likely that they’ll proceed as usual. But in terms of the military situation, there are sporadic clashes between the two sides. They did a major military operation in February this year and another one after four months. Now that winter is here, they’ll probably do it again. This time the rations may mean not only food but also ammunition. There’s been a lot of fighting in Hakha in northern Chin State. Since the rainy season is over, they could conduct major offensives every four months either in Matupi in the southern part of the state or in a strategic area in Hakha. Sporadic clashes continue to occur in both the south and north of Chin State.

Q: The military council has launched an offensive in Chin State under the name “Operation Anawrahta.” Has its combat strategy changed in the past year and a half?

A: They used to have a military base in Chin State. But now a large number of junta troops are marching up from the plains. After more than a year, they’ve started to conduct operations in the rural areas to gain control of the territory. But our forces have prevented them from leaving the towns. Until today, they’ve repeatedly tried to conduct offensives in the rural areas in the name of territorial control, but they’re unable to advance further.

Q: What is the nature of the majority of fighting in Chin State? How has it changed in the past and today?

A: In terms of the military situation, both sides are acting both offensively and defensively. In the past, both sides attacked each other. Later, when they changed their combat strategy, they used more artillery. They no longer dare to approach us. They’re now in a position where they can only fire artillery at our positions from a distance. When they approach us, we shoot them down from close range. They’re in a position where they no longer dare to approach us. They just fire artillery indiscriminately from the downtown areas.

Q: Will the fighting in Chin State intensify now that the rainy season is over? Could the military council’s combat strategy change?

A: Compared to last year, the number of clashes in Chin State has decreased. This is true for the southern part of the state compared to the northern part. In previous years, the regime’s troops came from different directions in large numbers from both the south and the north to the strategic areas of Matupi and Hakha. But this year they’ve made no such advance. Right now, they’re mainly focused on the north. In general, their fighting intensity has slowed down. But I’m not sure if they’ve weakened. Unlike before, they’re using more artillery now. We shoot at them from a distance of only 20 or 30 feet, but it’s now difficult for us to engage in such close combat. They’ve been using more heavy weapons. But after the rainy season, they’re more likely to use fighter jets. Just on Tuesday, we saw a reconnaissance plane circling overhead. It’s likely that they’ll use more aircraft. As for ground forces, the military council may have been weakened. We can say that.

Q: What about the territorial control of the armed groups in Chin State, including the CNF, more than a year after the Spring Revolution began?

A: When it comes to territorial control, we’ve to talk about the popular support at the same time. First of all, we can say that we’ve the full support of the people. More people in Chin State live in rural areas than in urban areas. In such a situation, the public is on our side. The forces of the CNA and CDF operate mainly in the rural areas of all nine townships up to the Sagaing Region. We’re mainly active in the nine townships of Chin State. We’ve brought more than 70 percent of the land under our control. The proof of this is the fact that we’re already operating our own health and education facilities in the rural areas.

Q: How do you assess the governing mechanism of the military council right now?

A: As I just said, more than 70 percent of Chin State’s territory is under our control. They can now govern only the urban areas of the nine townships. But there’s still fighting in the inner city of Hakha, the capital of Chin State. So people know what the current situation is. As for their administrative mechanisms, the people in their departments work in their own way. Some of them work from home, and others don’t dare to go to the office in person. They cannot even provide security for their own staff. For this reason, the military council’s administrative system is almost completely paralyzed and no longer functions properly.

Q: The military council has started to carry out more airstrikes. They’ve also bombed the KIA in A Nang Pa in Hpakant Township, Kachin State. There are reports that junta reconnaissance planes have flown over the CNA headquarters. What preparations has the CNF made in response?

A: We’re as prepared as possible because the fighter jets have even approached our headquarters. They’ll open fire on us when they come. We’ve done our best to defend ourselves. They flew their planes over the Chin Hills many times. They flew every time there were clashes. Usually, they fly planes when they suffer heavy losses. Geographically, even with planes in the hilly areas of Chin State, they cannot cause many casualties. It’s not possible for them to inflict losses on the ethnic forces just by using aircraft. We’re well prepared.

Q: What would you like to say about the junta’s reconnaissance flight over the headquarters?

A: The motive for the reconnaissance flight is obviously that they want to wipe out the armed ethnic groups and the local defense forces. They’re doing this because they’ve a plan. They plan to hold the general elections in August 2023. They’ll try by all means to gain territorial control – politically and militarily.

Q: The military council had announced that the elections will be held in 2023. Is it practically possible to hold such an election? What do you think about the upcoming election by the junta?

A: The leader of the military council only wants to hold the election to gain international recognition through public display. In fact, we’ve taken control of 70 percent of the territory. But true to form, he’ll set up one or two voting booths and manipulate the votes again. We’ll not recognize the election at all, because it’ll be held under the 2008 constitution. We’ve already abolished that. I’d like to say that this election in the Chin Hills won’t be successful under any circumstances

Q: What else would you like to add?

A: The military council is losing in all areas: international support, diplomacy, and the economy. They’ve no other choice. The junta leader is preparing to go to the extreme. In any case, he’ll continue ruthlessly. The military council is only putting itself in an even worse position by its actions. The public should know this. We, the ethnic resistance forces, will simply renew our strength year after year. We’ll just keep going until our revolution is successful.

Sent by KMG.

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