“Reshuffle of commanders and escalation of armed conflicts will not be directly proportional. However, our policy is clear. We will fight in various ways to end military dictatorship.” The Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA), an armed organization, under the Kare National Union (KNU) has changed its brigade commanders of Brigade 4, 6 and 7.
This interview with Padho Saw Tar Nee, spokesperson of KNU, is about whether these reforms will lead to any changes in military affairs, possible escalation of armed conflicts and the military’s target on civilians.
TLT: Could you talk about the change of three brigade commanders?
Padho Saw Tar Nee: It was not a biannual commanders’ meeting of KNLA, but a meeting of KNLA commanders. We confirm the change of commanders at brigade 4, 6 and 7.
TLT: Is it possible to make changes in military affairs due to the reshuffle of commanders? Will the conflicts intensify then?
Padho Saw Tar Nee: Reshuffle of commanders and escalation of armed conflicts will not be directly proportional. However, our policy is clear. We will fight in various ways to end the military council, especially, military dictatorship. We are removing them not only through military means, but also through sanctions, diplomatic ways, public and civil armed struggles. We will act in these sectors harmoniously. So, the reshuffle of brigade commanders is not directly related to our armed revolution. We are keeping on our plan.
TLT: Military’s recent airstrike in Hpaphun township left causalities and injuries of teachers and students. What is your response to the military council’s attacks on civilian targets?
Padho Saw Tar Nee: Heavy weapon shelling and aerial attack have caused more losses in both Hpapun and Nyaunglaybin districts. After they lost their camps, the military increased their attacks. When they saw any light at night, they concluded it is the place of IDPs and villagers. Then they fired at those places frequently. The military council carried out attacks almost every day whether fighting erupted or not.
They are committing war crime intentionally. KNU will make a statement on these attacks. We call for effective actions against the military council that is targeting civilians.
TLT: It was learnt that soldiers of military council defected to KNU with their arms and ammunitions. What is the number of defection up to September 2023?
Padho Saw Tar Nee: Some of soldiers from military council are defecting to us. Whether they could bring their weapons or not, they are supporting the revolution through civil obedience movement. They need to stand with people. It is a support to the revolution. Defection with arms and ammunitions is not the only way. They can choose other means. We will provide supports them with all the possible means.
TLT: Could you have any public information on current military affairs?
Padho Saw Tar Nee: The military council is in very difficult situation. They have experienced international sanctions on their financial resources. As a result, people will suffer the impacts. But, we need to overcome these situations together. Removal of military dictatorship is our common goal. We need to move forward and not to backtrack even a little. We will fight together.