Vox Pop: Views on junta chief’s threat of ‘decisive action’ against NUG, supporting EAOs
EAO leaders and political analysts shared their views with DMG about Min Aung Hlaing’s threat.
30 Mar 2023
After their protest columns were brutally gunned down in the Myanmar military’s crackdown on the peaceful demonstrations that followed the coup in February 2021, anti-regime protesters were left with no option but to fight back for democracy.
Thousands of protesters in cities and towns across the country headed to border areas, where ethnic armed organisations (EAOs) are active, to undergo military training. Anti-regime activists in many parts of the country formed local armed resistance groups that would become collectively known as People’s Defence Forces (PDFs).
Several EAOs have since either directly or indirectly helped these PDFs. The Karen National Union (KNU), Kachin Independence Army (KIA), Chin National Front (CNF), Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP) and All Burma Students’ Democratic Front (ABSDF) are openly cooperating with PDFs, while the Arakan Army (AA), Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) and Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) are also backing resistance forces.
Against this backdrop, in an address marking Armed Forces Day on March 27, junta chief Min Aung Hlaing said the Myanmar military would take decisive action against the civilian National Unity Government (NUF), its affiliated PDFs, and EAOs supporting them. EAO leaders and political analysts shared their views with DMG about Min Aung Hlaing’s threat.
Colonel Min Tun || Commander-in-Chief || Arakan National Council/Arakan Army
Regarding the junta chief’s warning, what I want to say is that not only EAOs but also the international community, pro-democracy forces and Myanmar people — the majority of whom are oppressed by the Myanmar military — are helping the NUG and PDFs.
Why are they supporting the NUG and PDFs? Because everyone knows that the political process proposed by the regime supports neither domestic peace nor international peace. To compare the regime to a tree, the regime is not a tree that provides shade for people; rather, it is a poisonous plant threatening everything around it.
So, everyone has this feeling. They would be grateful to anyone who cuts down the poisonous tree, and view them as their benefactors. Individual people or organisations will be contributing to each other as they work to cut down the poisonous tree. And ordinary citizens will also help them in their own interests.
If the junta chief still can’t view this correctly, and tries instead to harm anyone who has a different view, the political space for the regime will shrink further and further.
U Than Soe Naing || Political Analyst
The regime is in conflict with the KNU, KIA, and CNF, which are not part of the peace talks, so the regime’s peace talks are just for show.
While the military regime wants to be an architect of peace, on the other hand, the military regime also wants to fight and defeat the groups it accuses of being terrorist organisations. The regime announced its position on the KIA, KNU and KNDF fighting alongside the PDF.
It is the people who are really being oppressed because the military leaders have a different policy between what they say and what they do. Small ethnic armed organisations that have signed the NCA are discussing peace with the military regime. Powerful ethnic armed organisations are fighting the regime. When the NUG fights a decisive war against the regime in 2023, the pace of war will be higher this year.
Salai Htet Ni || Spokesman || Chin National Front
How can the regime take action against ethnic armed organisations? After the start of the Spring Revolution, there has been two years of fighting between the regime, and ethnic armed organisations and anti-regime forces. The junta troops terrorise and kill the people, and the regime destroys and burns the lives and property of the people in Chin State. I am confused as to how junta chief Min Aung Hlaing will take action against organisations that support the NUG and PDF.
The regime already attacks EAOs and anti-regime forces from all sides, both from the ground and from the air. So I want to ask the question again, who will be prosecuted?
U Pe Than || Political Analyst
The regime is concerned that PDFs will grow stronger across the country; it is especially concerned that EAOs and Bamar people from central Myanmar will merge. So, Min Aung Hlaing issued the warning to discourage EAOs and PDFs from working together.
EAOs that don’t see eye-to-eye with the Myanmar military have provided assistance, including military training, to PDFs. This is why Min Aung Hlaing has made a threat.
In fact, the Myanmar military has been fighting EAOs for many years, and it could not defeat them. This will not change just because Min Aung Hlaing has made a threat now. Those groups will not step back because of his threat. Now, forces fighting for federalism and democracy have merged.
Min Aung Hlaing is worried that EAOs and PDFs have aligned themselves in revolt against the military dictatorship. He has offered to hold an election as an incentive to drive a wedge between EAOs and PDFs.
Ko Kyaw Hsan Hlaing || Political Researcher
It is not only now that the regime has announced that it will completely crush the ethnic armed organisations. In the past, for example, during the Arakan fighting of 2018-2020, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing [vowed the same in relation to the Arakan Army].
However, according to the current situation, people and ethnic armed organisations all over the country are involved in the Spring Revolution in one way or another. The regime has no offensive measures that can resolve all of these militarily. On the other hand, the regime’s plan to crush ethnic armed organisations is likely to dig its own grave, so it is merely a political, verbal threat.
U Ye Tun || Former Lawmaker
Both sides have been talking about crushing each other. Recently, [NUG acting president] Duwa Lashi La talked about crushing the Myanmar military. In response to reports that the Northern Alliance [EAOs based in the north and northeast of Myanmar] will hold talks with the regime and demand democracy, Duwa Lashi La said that it was wrong to think that democracy can be demanded from the Myanmar military, and that democracy can only be built after crushing the Myanmar military.
So, both sides have been talking about annihilating each other. The NUG has called for crushing the Myanmar military. The Myanmar military is saying the election will be held only after crushing the NUG and PDFs, and that democracy can be restored only after crushing the NUG and PDFs.
We will wait and see which side will gain the upper hand after some time. So far, both sides have suffered losses, and only when they become aware that it is impossible to crush the other side will they engage in talks.
In the past, while the AA and the TNLA were still in their nascent stages, the Myanmar military didn’t accept them for the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement. They were labelled terrorist organisations and left out of the NCA process. But after those groups secured footholds in their respective areas, the Myanmar military had to accept them, and offered talks with them. History will repeat.