In August, the resistance forces in various regions stepped on the gas and took on many stations of the regime’s military. Upon taking control of the land, they showed intent to keep the territory instead of burning down and leaving the area wary of the regime’s offensive. This action remains in line with the chant that goes “All Roads Lead to Naypyidaw” implying that the ultimate fight to seize Naypyidaw, the junta’s headquarters, is coming from all directions across the country. Realistic or not, the chant has been music to the ears of millions of Myanmar people. To keep our emotions in check, we spoke this month, with Bo (alias), an official from the National Unity Government (NUG), trying to understand what’s like to handle expectations from the inside.
MM: What’s your opinion toward this “All Roads Lead to Naypyidaw” chant? Who started this?
Bo: The “All Roads Lead to Naypyidaw” chant has emerged as a powerful expression of defiance against the military junta. Initiated by the Minister of the Ministry of Defence under the NUG, this rallying cry has proven to be a potent psychological blow to the junta. The recent successful raids on outposts within Naypyidaw’s territory by our resistance forces signify a crucial turning point. The once-considered impenetrable fortress of the junta is now under threat, a development that Min Aung Hlaing, the head of the junta, publicly criticized his officials for. This series of events has dealt a substantial blow to the junta’s morale and control.
MM: Now we see news that KNLA and allies have seized the strategic Letkettaung Station in Karen State, KNDF and local forces have gained control of Maese stations in Karenni State, and a new battle has also emerged in Thantlang Town in Chin State. In your opinion, are all these city-siege battles part of the “All Roads Lead to Naypyidaw” goal or are they just more cases of taking control and retreating afterward due to the regime’s potential offensive?
Bo: These battles play a significant role in advancing the broader goal of “All Roads Lead to Naypyidaw.” While they may not directly target the capital, they contribute to weakening the regime by engaging them on multiple fronts. The recent successes in seizing strategic stations in Karen State by KNLA and in Karenni State by KNDF and alliances highlight the weakening position of the regime. The sustained resistance and the regime’s repeated failures to regain control in these areas have diminished their offensive capabilities. The battles have not only hindered the regime’s potential offensive actions but have also limited their ability to provide air support. As these events continue to unfold, their impact on the regime’s strength and the overall progress toward the ultimate goal will become clearer.
MM: Do people in the NUG also believe that the armed resistance must end with taking over the regime’s capital? That this is indeed all in or nothing and there is no place for dialogue?
Bo: I hope we do. If we can successfully take over the capital, it’s bingo. However, the perspective on dialogue is nuanced. While there is a preference for pursuing dialogue from a position of strength, it is contingent on certain conditions being met. This includes ensuring that those responsible for crimes against the people are held accountable and receive just punishment. For us, meaningful dialogue requires a foundation of justice and accountability for the junta’s actions.
MM: Being a person displaced by the coup yourself, how do you cope with expectations regarding the outcome of the armed resistance personally and professionally (as a NUG official)? Is there self-censorship for you in keeping your hopes high?
Bo: As someone personally affected by the coup and holding a role within the NUG, my expectations remain consistently high on both fronts. My personal desire aligns with my professional responsibilities: I aspire for a complete removal of the military from political influence following the revolution. My vision for a new Myanmar is one that embodies federal democracy and ensures accountability for those responsible for heinous crimes against our people. The memory of the Pa Zi Gyi massacre serves as a resolute reminder of the importance of seeking justice and upholding our principles. There is no room for self-censorship; I will never rest until justice is served.
MM: That said, tell us what keeps your hope alive and what challenges it on a personal level.
Bo: My source of hope is my three-year-old son. At its core, my participation in this revolution is driven by the desire for him to grow up in a nation defined by freedom and justice. Personal challenges arise from the precarious security situation, lack of proper shelter, food scarcity, and even concerns about my son’s education. Yet, these challenges are confronted with the understanding that we are not alone in facing them. Our collective determination unites us with fellow revolutionaries who share similar hardships. I firmly believe that as we endure these challenges together, we will ultimately share in the triumph of victory, forging a brighter future for our nation.
MM: The regime’s spokesperson mocked that “All roads towards Naypyidaw” is accurate because people across the country have been rushing to Naypyidaw to pay homage to Min Aung Hlaing’s new pagoda built in the capital. What is your response to that?
Bo: Absolutely, it’s almost as if the regime’s spokesperson has taken up a new role as a comedian. This time, though, it seems they’re missing the forest for the trees. Perhaps they should better focus on paying homage to that statue while they still can. As for us, we’re definitely on our way—taking all roads that lead to justice, not to offer homage, but to reclaim what’s rightfully ours.