Interview with Chairman of Dr Thiri Mon Chan, the chairman of Political and Military Leading Committee of Mon State Defense Force (MSDF)

The Mon State Defense Force (MSDF) is an armed resistance force representing Mon people for fighting against the military council after the coup in 2021. The MSDF was first established in September 2021. Its northern command is for the recruitment and military training, while its southern command is for military operations.

This interview with Dr Thiri Mon Chan, the chairman of Political and Military Leading Committee of MSDF, is about its military activities, their  remarks on the works of Mon Unity Party (MUP) and New Mon State Party (NMSP), and their views on why the youth should participate in Spring Revolution.

TLT: Could you explain activities of Mon State Defense Force?

Dr Thiri Mon Chan: MSDF has northern and southern commands. The former is to conduct military training and other basic operation, while the latter is for military operations. Earlier, the southern command did not conduct military activities. At present, non-Mon defense forces which are operating in other areas of Mon state and Tanintharyi region have joined with us. We expect to carry out military operations soon together with other ethnic armed organizations, people’s defence forces or local resistance forces.

TLT: What is the situation of military operations of MSDF in southern and northern parts of Ye Township?

Dr. Thiri Mon Chan: We have not carried out attacks or other military operations in northern area as we are stationing in the allied zone. However, we have conducted military operations in southern command as possible as we can. But these were not major operations or clashes. We have plan to carry out joint military operations in cooperation with allied forces and other EAOs in near future.

 TLT: What is your comment on other revolutionary forces that are fighting against military dictatorship?

Dr. Thiri Mon Chan: The lack of strong link is a weakness among revolutionary forces and political organizations. A solid and strong collarated force is required to fight against the military.  In addition to the military allied force, harmonious activities of political organizations, underground political movements and urban democratic forces are needed for revolution against dictatorship. We must foster our collaboration to take advantage in political alliance.

 TLT: What is your view on registration of Mon Unity Party at the military?

Dr. Thiri Mon Chan: In my view as an ordinary Mon people, it is unacceptable. Our ethnic people have realized the objectives and expectation of military regime from the election. The military chief promised holding election to extend his regime. The election date has not been fixed. Although the election would be held in early 2023, they have postponed it indefinitely. The election will not guarantee the expected rights of our ethnic people. The Shan Nationalities League for Democracy did not register and will not contest the election. I want to say MUP that a political party can exist, like SNLD, without registration until they win public support. Political activities can be done without party registration. Their registration was intended for ‘give and take’. They are ‘taking’ more than ‘giving’.

 TLT: At present, a Mon armed group, New Mon State Party, is making peace dialogue with the military regime. What is your view on it?

Dr Thiri Mon Chan: Political analysts understand it. Peace-making effort of the military is not a genuine politics. Although PPST and NMSP has agreed for ceasefire and politics, there are many ethnic armed organizations in Kachin, Kayin and Kareni. So, no genuine peace could be made. Successive miliary regimes carried out dividing rules. The military made peace with some EAOs, like KIO, to crack down democratic forces after 1988 uprising. They put military pressure on KNU. Now, PPST is not an organization that is staging war against the military. The military need to make peace with all the stakeholders such as NUG, PDFs in Sagaing and Magway regions, and other armed groups for ensuring genuine peace. The expected conference of the military with NMSP or PPST will not result in the expected peace.

TLT: What is your advice for ongoing Spring Revolution?

 Dr Thiri Mon Chan: The Spring Revolution has been over 2 years. We expect   solid collaboration amoug NUG, PDFs and EAOs. All these stakeholders should establish a strong allied force. The revolution of our country lasted more than 70 years due to the lack of strong and solid military and political allied force, giving a chance to the successive military regimes for dividing rule. We could reach our destination only if we could gather into a combined force.

TLT: What is your remark on the NUG?

Dr Thiri Mon Chan: Almost all the country has recognized the NUG. However, they should unveil ethnic rights clearly to be able to organize all ethnic armed groups. If they have no clear vision for this, it is impossible to establish a federal state. They should have guarantee for ethnic rights. They must present their future political roadmap and deferral policies to organize ethnic groups. They also need to amend its administrative sector in relations with other allied organizations and armed groups.

TLT: Why should Mon people take part in revolution? What are required for their participation?

Dr Thiri Mon Chan: Our Mon people were indoctrinated that the coup and  ongoing political crisis were the problems just between the military and ruling party NLD. But their view has changed gradually. Our Mon people expect peace and tranquility. Until civil war expands to our state, they tried to live properly with the military regime. Actually, we are of the view that the whole country is ravaged by civil war. It is like forest fire. It can expand to our state anytime. If we do not brace for this, our Mon people will suffer more impacts   although they want to live peacefully. Our armed group is preparing for protecting our people and   ensuring peace and stability.

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