An ethnic conflict between the Chins and the Rakhines can no longer be ruled out with the Chin National Front (CNF) asking the Arakan Army not to draw the Chin state into the fighting between the Burmese army Tatmadaw and the Arakan Army.
In a 7-point press statement issued after the seventh party Congress, the CNF warned the Arakan Army (AA) not to make Chin State their military base and to cease fighting between the AA and Tatmadaw (government troops) in Chinland immediately.
CNF convened their seventh Congress at their Victoria Camp GHQ from March 16 to 19 and then they issued this press statement.
The press statement issued by CNF says, “Military conflict that has been taking place between Myanmar Tatmadaw and Arakan Army caused an emergency situation for the Chin people as they are committing war crimes against these people. So we warn them to cease fighting being fought between them immediately and not to make Chin State as their military base.”
Political analysts say this could snowball into a bigger ethnic confrontation becase the Arakan Army would not withdraw from the sourhern Chin state.
Maung Maung Soe said that it would not be possible for AA to leave Paletwa in Chin State at present.
“I don’t think AA can leave Paletwa area at present as demanded in the CNF press statement because this Paletwa area is contiguous with northern Rakhine State which is the major operation theatre of AA. I don’t think AA will leave this area as they have to maneuver in this hilly region with dense forest,” he said.
After seeing this press statement issued by CNF demanding AA to leave Chin State and not to make Chin State their military base, the local people speculated that the CNF would attack AA unless they heed their demand .
But Dr Min Zaw Oo, executive director of Myanmar Institute of Peace and Security (MIPS), said that it would not be possible.
“Fighting is taking place in southern Chin State. CNF is mainly based in northern Chin State. They don’t have much deployment and military movements in the southern part of Chin State so that it is unlikely that we would see head-on confrontation between AA and CNF at present.
“Not only CNF but also some Kumi people are asking for weapons to fight against the AA. We heard that some Kumi people wanted to form a people’s militia if they get these weapons. We may see such people’s militias in Paletwa soon. And then head-on confrontation between Kumi local people and AA can be seen when these Kumi people are armed with weapons,” Dr Min Zaw Oo added.
But political analyst Maung Maung Soe said in his opinion that there would be no armed confrontation at present between AA and CNF but there may be political dispute between them.
In January this year, a former CNF had first told Northeast Now that the Arakan Army‘s claim on Paletwa in Chin state was ‘untenable’.
“Rakhines are only fifteen percent of Paletwa’s population, the rest are Chins and smaller tribes of the Mizo-Kuki-Chin family like Khumis. The Arakan Army is pushing Khumis to accept Rakhine identity which is unfair,” the leader told Northeast Now in Mizoram capital Aizawl on condition of strict anonymity because his his stay in the State was not legal.
Indian security forces and Mizoram police have been zero tolerant towards Myanmar rebel groups and relentlessly attacked them since the Burmese army attacked Naga and other Indian rebel groups based in Sagaing Division bordering Nagaland and Manipur.
The Indian army and para-military Assam Rifles conducted Operation Sunrise against the Arakan Army bases in South Mizoram last year and demolished them.
“The Arakan Army is claiming Paletwa for tactical reasons because control over that area is crucial for them to access remote areas of Mizoram and the Sangu valley in Chittagong Hill Tracts where they take shelter during Burmese army offensive,” the CNF leader said.
What would the Chin groups do if Myanmar decides to hand over Paletwa to Rakhine state during possible future political negotiations with Arakan Army rebels ?, the leader said.