Interview With Pu Zing Cung, Vice Chairman of The Chin National Front
Ottawa, April 10, 2002
Chinland Guardian: Mr. Chairman, thank you for giving us an opportunity to interview you.
Zing Cung: You are most welcome.
Chinland Guardian: We have learnt through various sources that you have toured the United States and Canada recently. Would you mind telling us where you have visited, whom you have met, and what was the main purpose of your tour?
Zing Cung: Well, I visited to the United States and Canada to meet our people and had a magnificent opportunity to speak with them about our national struggle for self-determination, restoration of democracy, the current political climate of Chins and so forth. I have met Chins in the National Capitol Area (Washington and DC and surrounding areas); Indianapolis (Indiana State); Battle Creek (Michigan State); Dallas (Texas State); Atlanta (Georgia State); and Miami (Florida State). I have also met Chins in Ottawa, Canada too.
Chinland Guardian: Do you believe that the primary purpose of touring to all these places and meeting with Chin people was achieved?
Zing Cung: Certainly, Yes! As I said, I have met many Chin individuals, families, groups as well as members of Chin Churches and Congregations during my trip. We have intensely discussed the current political climate and situation of Chinland, Burma and the world as well as the prospects of our national revolution. I received much useful advice, recommendations, and ideas from these discussions.
Chinland Guardian: We have learnt through Zomi egroups emails that Zomi Innkuan Members in D.C. areas were very unhappy with the CNF for various reasons. Is that information true?
Zing Cung: Zomi Inkuan members in D.C. areas were unhappy with the CNF for two particular reasons. First of all, they are unhappy because the CNF collects a certain amount of tax from the Chin people. The CNF has a tax policy regarding its people. Except for handicapped or mentally and physically disabled persons, every Chin national has a duty to our revolution and therefore must pay a certain amount of tax to the CNF, which is working in the interests of Chin nationals. Also, the CNF has a policy that in order to regain the right of self-determination, to restore democracy in the Union of Burma, and to promote and protect the Chin nationals’ interests, every competent Chin national has a fundamental and natural duty toward Chinland and the Chin people and is therefore obligated to serve in either the Chin National Front or the Chin National Army.
As I mentioned above, this revolution is a national revolution. Thus every Chin national has a fundamental and natural duty and responsibility toward our revolution.
The CNF collects taxes from the Chin people as a way of recruiting to and training Chin youths in the national revolution and to build awareness among the people that they are a part of this national revolution. Under a selective service policy, the CNF recruited many young Chins at the end of 2000 from every corner of Chinland. Zomi Innkuan Members in D.C. were very unhappy because one of the recruits among them was a schoolteacher from Bukphir village. Zomi Innkuan Members in D.C. areas verbally lodged a complaint to me that we should not collect tax from very poor Chin people in Tiddim areas. They further complained that we should not take any action towards those who deny paying taxes in Haimual Road and that we should stop the practice of selective service. These two factors were the basic reasons behind the discontentment of Zomi Innkuan in D.C. areas toward the CNF.
Chinland Guardian: Does the CNF collect heavy tax from the Chin people?
Zing Cung: The CNF collects a reasonable amount of tax from the Chin people. For example, every household must pay 1,000 Kyats per year to the CNF. 1,000 Kyats is less than 2 dollars in market rate of exchange. If a family sells a chicken they can make over 1,500 Kyats. As I said above, the CNF collects very reasonable amounts of taxes, which also makes the people conscious that they are a part of national revolution.
Chinland Guardian: Is it true that Zomi Innkuan Members warned the CNF Chairman during their meeting in Wasthington D.C., that “if the CNF keeps continuing its movement in Chinland, there could be a civil war in Chinland”?
Zing Cung: That’s correct! Zomi Innkuan Members told me the same thing when I met them in D.C. too. I made it clear to them, however, that because the CNF does not represent a particular organization, sect, region, canon, or tribe but is working for the benefit of all Chin nationals, civil war will not and can not occur in Chinland, among the Chin people. When the Zomi Revolutionary Organization (ZRO) killed one of the CNF’s Central Committee Members and a Sergeant, CNF leaders went to Imphal to make a peace with ZRO instead of retaliating. This incident indicates that the CNF is working for all Chin national interests and not for a particular group, people, sect, or organization. The CNF never discriminates against any group, people, or organization from Chinland on any grounds. Also, the CNF avoids those who intend to make war among our people. So, in short, the CNF is pursuing a national politic and therefore does not have any interest in local or communal politics or local war among the Chin people.
Chinland Guardian: What kind of Organization or Party is the CNF exactly?
Zing Cung: As I said before, the CNF is a revolutionary organization, working to achieve the Chin nationals’ interests which are: to regain the right of self-determination for the Chin people and to establish a genuine democratic federal union in Burma. In order to achieve our nationals’ interests, the military regime of Burma must be overthrown. Therefore, the CNF aims to topple the military regime with any available means but without prejudicing the law of civilized nations. The CNF has no interest in pursuing party politics or local politics. When our national interests are achieved, the CNF will cease to exist automatically. This was a decision made at the Second Party Conference.
Chinland Guardian: You mean that once the revolution is over, the CNF would not pursue or engage in Party Politics like other revolutionary organizations? If so, then what will happen to the Chin National Army (CNA), which is a military wing of the CNF?
Zing Cung: Once the Chin people regain the right to self-determination, a genuine democratic federal union, and a civilian government, the CNF will not enter into party politics. As I said, the CNF stands for a National Politic and is pursuing national interests, which is totally different from party politics. Regarding the status of the Chin National Army in the post revolution period, the Chin people will freely decide the destiny of Chin National Army and their decision will be final.
Chinland Guardian: During the past five or more years, CNF leaders have been extensively touring various places like the US, Canada, the EU, and Asian nations. Who pays for all these expenditures? Does the CNF use the taxpayers’ money?
Zing Cung: The CNF have been actively participating and lobbying at forums of international and regional bodies particularly the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), the United Nations Commission on Human Rights ( UNCHR ), the United Nations Working Groups for Indigenous Peoples (UNWGIP), and the Asia Indigenous Peoples’ Pact (AIPP). We have also been meeting with government officials from the EU, North America and other countries. The main purpose of the CNF’s lobbying has been to: impose economic, diplomatic, and military sanctions toward the illegal military regime of Burma so that the aims and objectives of CNF can be achieved. Also, the CNF has been raising awareness among the international community about the long-suffering Chin people who have lived under successive military regimes in Burma, why and how the Chin need their attention, recognition, and assistance. One result of the CNF’s work I would like to mention in this regard is that the Unrepresented Peoples and Nations Organization (UNPO) accepted the Chin people as their member.
Regarding travel expenses, the CNF never spends a penny of taxpayers’ money on these matters. The funding comes from various non-governmental organizations. When we do not receive funding to participate in these international or regional bodies’s activities, we simply do not attend.
Chinland Guardian: Does the CNF consider that CNF is protecting and promoting the interests of the Chin people in and outside of Chinland?
Zing Cung: The aims and objectives of the Chin National Front are to promote and protect the Chin National’s interests. Promoting and protecting the Chin National’s interests is the fundamental duty and goal of the Chin National Front and it is what the CNF has been doing since it was formed.
Chinland Guardian: The “secret talks” between Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and the military junta has been going on for almost two years without any significant outcomes. What do you think about these secret talks?
Zing Cung: Well, the military regime said the talks are only at the “confidence building” stage. However, it has been almost two years without any significant progress or outcomes. Therefore, I sincerely believe the military regime is not sincere about this process. In order to show their sincerity, and willingness to democratize Burma, the military regime must release all political prisoners, must allow all political parties to engage in their business freely and without precondition and must call for an immediate ceasefire with all revolutionary groups without precondition. Once this is achieved, the regime must work towards the tripartite dialogue and the National Convention.
Chinland Guardian: If, the tripartite dialogue is called right now, would the CNF represent the Chin people in the dialogue?
Zing Cung: I think that this is a very important issue to be considered and prepared for seriously by every Chin individual. So far, in my opinion, there are three potential groups, which could represent the Chins’ interests in the tripartite dialogue. One group could be those who won in the 1990 general election and members of United Nationalities League for Democracy (UNLD). The other potential group could be the CNF because the CNF is a member of the National Democratic Front (NDF) and the National Council of the Union of Burma (NCUB). The third potential group could be prominent leaders among the Chins such as intellectuals, scholars, those with expertise in various academic disciplines, and religious leaders. The fundamental issues to keep in mind for all of us in this regard should not be who represents the Chin people in the Tripartite Dialogue, but whether they are committed and capable to represent the Chin national’s interests in the Tripartite Dialogue.
Chinland Guardian: Some people argued that all Chin Tribes are not participating in CNF so that CNF could not represent the Chinland. What would be your response to that?
Zing Cung: As I have said above, the CNF does not represent or benefit a particular tribe, people, party, or organization from Chinland and among the Chin People. The CNF stands for the interests of the entire Chin population and therefore never discriminates against anyone based on the above-mentioned factors to participate in the CNF or the CNA as long as the person’s intention and commitment is to the interests of Chin nationals’. I hope that the people who are making these arguments are not people who are against the CNF for some reasons and indirectly supporting the survival of the military regime in Burma. If the CNF wants to exclude some tribe or people in the Chin national revolution, why should the CNF adopt a Selective Service Policy?
Chinland Guardian: Do you think that the CNF’s activities and movements are progressing or not?
Zing Cung: Anybody who is carefully following the situation and climate of international, regional, and Burma politics, can see that the CNF is on the right track to achieving the interests of Chin nationals. Therefore, I sincerely believe that the activities and movements of the CNF is progressing and I hope it will keep on progressing.
Chinland Guardian: Thank you for your time, Mr. Chairman.
Zing Cung: You are most welcome.