An interview with Padoh Mahn Mahn, ex-joint secretary-2 of the KNU
The Karen Information Center (KIC) interviewed Padoh Mahn Mahn, exs-Joint Secretary-2 of the Karen National Union (KNU) about the military council’s unilateral ceasefire announcement for 2023, peace invitation, the election plan and future prospects of the revolutionary forces.
Q: May I know your view on the military council’s extension of the ceasefire until December this year?
A: This is the military council’s traditional strategy for making a ceasefire on the one hand and crushing on the other hand. But this strategy does not work any longer. The military turns to its strategy for restricting areas and situations. However this strategy will be effective. What I want to say is that a ceasefire for the situation is just exploitation. As a matter of fact, the military doesn’t make a ceasefire and may continue to fight. The military wants to show its undertakings to the international community. The military wants to trick ethnics and will make a ceasefire for the whole year. However, the military’s exception is that it will not carry out military operations except for security and administrative matters. The term “security and administrative” matter is broad. The military council’s ceasefire is significant due to this exception. It is not effective for the military and significant for our revolutionary forces.
Q: May I know your view on the junta leader’s declaration of the year 2023 as a peace year?
A: The junta leader is frequently talking about the words “peace year” or “ceasefire” as he has an appetite for these words in his mouth. However, the real essence for the junta’s peace plan is to ensure the disappearance of the Ethnic Revolutionary Organizations (EROs), crush the EROs and make them surrender. I want to say that the military’s strategies used after 2021 will not be effective at all. The organizations no longer listen to whatever the military says. No one is interested in it. The entire people have known who they are.
Q: It is found that almost all people in the country oppose the military council, and the international community no longer recognizes it. Despite these circumstances, some armed groups attended the peace meetings with the military council. Why? Do you think that attending the peace talks is aimed for their political interests?
A: It has two parts—the military council’s interest and the interests of the EROs which attend peace talks. The EROs which met the junta leader may enjoy benefits to a certain degree. The meeting may bring about benefits not only for the organization but also for an individual. The military council will not get any benefits in terms of politics, military and organizing. However, the military council will continue doing its work. As the media expected in 2021, the military will make peace invitations at the end of 2022 and at the beginning of 2023. It will invite the EROs to the peace talks, especially the Peace Process Steering Team (PPST). Then, it will start creating disunity between the EROs and the People’s Defense Forces (PDFs) and separate them. However, the military council’s attempt has failed. According to its strategy, the military invited the KNU which is the biggest armed group included in the PPST. However the KNU did not accept it. As I mentioned earlier, the military council did not get any political and military interests as only small armed organizations attended the meeting. However, the military will continue using its strategy. The armed groups which meet the junta shall not get any political interest. It is especially aimed for their continued existence and movements. In fact, they shall not increase their political momentum. They will no longer get the public’s support and their political images may fade as they meet the junta leader.
Q: May I know your review on the stance of the military council which is frequently using the terms “peace talks and peace”
A: The military council is using the simple strategy for the disarmament of the EROs and their surrender, by taking advantage of peace. However, it doesn’t work. The Karen revolution and Kachin revolution will remain even if the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) and the Karen National Union (KNU) surrender to the military. I totally believe that their revolution will not disappear. All groups have anticipated the military council’s journey and strategy.
Q: Why does the military hold peace talks only with the EROs who have good relations with it?
A: As I said before, the military council’s major strategy is to invite the EROs to the peace talks at the end of 2022 and in the early 2023, excluding the PDFs. At the end of 2023, the military will invite the PDFs to peace talks, excluding the EROs. The military has issued the statements with three steps.
The first step for peace invitation to the EAOs by excluding the PDFs was not successful as the major EAOs declined its invitation. The next step is the military will invite the PDF and the National Unity Government (NUG) by excluding the EAOs. This step will materialize in 2023. But it will not succeed.
The reason is the EROs have had a lot of experience in fighting with the successive regimes and political battles and dialogues for more than 70 years. Whatever the situation, it is not new to the EROs. On the other hand, the military council persuades the PDFs and excludes the EROs. Currently, the military council is oppressing the public. It is not easy for the military council to trick the PDFs in a hurry. That’s to say, our country had Shan, Chin, Kachin and Karen EROs. Now, Bamar ethnics themselves can make resistance against the junta. Under this circumstance, it is impossible for the junta to trick the EROs, the NUG and the PDFs.
Q: Do you think that the military council’s attempt to hold the general election will materialize? Why does the military council want to hold the election?
A: Whether the election will materialize or not is related to the said strategy. According to the peace strategy, the military will firstly invite the EROs by excluding the PDFs. Then, it will invite the PDFs by excluding the EROs. Then, the election will be held. How many ethnic parties will participate in the election? The military council gets the image that small ethnic armed groups attended the peace talks. The military council will show that small ethnic parties participate in the election. In my view, the junta will continue to do its work as much as it can. It is impossible to reveal the junta’s strategy for the final step. I don’t want to reveal all the facts as it may hamper our revolutionary strategy.
Q: How do you review the NUG’s announcement that 2023 is a decisive year for the revolution?
A: As far as I understand, it will be a year to increase the momentum of revolution to the highest level. I don’t assume that the revolution will succeed in 2023. However, it may achieve success. But the sure point is the NUG announced that the momentum of the revolution will reach its peak in 2023 as it will surely achieve success.
Q: My last question is: May I know your view on the military council’s future plans and the twist and turn for the current revolution?
A: The military council continues to adhere to its strategy for retaining its power and oppressing the people. Our revolutionary groups have set a goal of rooting out the military dictatorship. However, the military council is using its conventional methods. This is not new to all revolutionary forces. They are capable of making a response to the junta’s works. According to its tenure, the election is the final step of the military council’s strategy to retain power. In my personal view, it is not clear what the junta will do next after the election result comes out, whether the election has been held or not. The junta may implement the next step only after the election result comes out. However, we can say only after the election about to what extent the public and the international community will support the election result. We can anticipate it. But, it is not okay for us to reveal the facts as we have revolutionary military and political strategies.
It is not okay for us to reveal the facts as we have had revolutionary military and political strategies. In the revolution, we have an only goal whether we fight against the junta collectively or individually. Although we could not form an alliance, our final goal is exactly the same. So we shall converge at one point. This is the first advantage. The second is the current situation is slightly different from the National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma (NCGUB) formed in 1990. The NCGUB was formed as an exiled government and had no armed forces and the defense ministry on the ground. Now the NUG has the defense ministry and armed forces. There are many PDFs which are not under the NUG. This is the best driving force for the revolution. Our revolution will succeed quickly if we can implement political leadership in a hurry.
Sent by KIC