Chins Pray for Safety as India Warns of Attack on Burma’s Rebel Camp
By Salai Za Uk Ling , June 21, 2005: Chin community around the world are praying for the safety of their fellow countrymen in arms fighting against the Burmese military regime as impending attacks by Indian Army loom close. An ultimatum announced by Indian government earlier this month to relocate Chin rebel camp located on Indo-Burma border before June 20 prompted fear and panic among Chin communities as India is vowing to ‘flush out’ Chin rebel army if they failed to evacuate their jungle base.
Bracing for the impending attacks by Indian forces, Chin expatriates living in Canada, the United States, Europe, Australia and Asia are conducting special prayer services at their local churches and worship centers for the safety of their fellowmen fighting for democracy and political autonomy for their homeland.
On June 3, 2005, the Indian Home Ministry issued directives asking Mizoram state authorities to prepare for an assault on Chin National Army, an armed wing of Chin National Front, which the Indian government accused has bases inside Indian territory. The move was a result of the new bilateral security cooperation agreement between India and Burma following a state visit to New Delhi by Burma’s military dictator Senior General Than Shwe in October last year.
Renewed pressure from Indian government on Chin National Front to quit its military base came as India is believed to be under obligation to clean up Burma’s armed groups operating out of its borders in response to recent military campaigns by Burmese military regime against Indian insurgent groups operating from Burmese soils.
Although the CNF denies it has base inside Indian soil, Paul Sitha, the organization’s spokesperson told Chinland Guardian the Chin National Army will do anything to avoid confrontation with Indian forces. “It has always been the policy of CNF to not antagonize India,” says Sitha. “India will always be our neighbor and as has been in the past, we will continue to maintain friendly relations with the world’s largest democracy country.”
The deadline for relocation of CNF’s Camp Victoria passed yesterday without any reported incident of fighting. Chin National Front maintains the camp was only meant for a mobile base. Camp Victoria, named after the highest peak in Chinland, has come under increasing focus of Burmese military intelligence in recent months as the Chin National Front is becoming a leading player in Burma’s opposition movement. CNF assumes a leading position in the National Democratic Front, Burma’s largest opposition military alliance, and is also active in several other major oppositional groupings.
“The fact that the Burmese military regime is persuading India to go after the Chin National Front is an acknowledgement that the organization is becoming a major opposition force, and therefore a nuisance to the regime,” notes one observer. Since it’s formation in 1988, Burma’s military regime has rarely acknowledged the CNF in the State press when referring to ethnic armed group that have yet to enter ceasefire deals with the regime.
Chin National Front was founded in 1988 following a brutal military crackdown on pro-democracy activists that left thousands dead and sent thousands of students and activists into exile.