One hundred and sixty students went to the Kachin Independence Army's headquarters in Pajau and, once there, decided to establish the ABDSF. We realized that we need to fight with weapons against those fighting us with weapons, not merely release statements.
Now only 15 to 16 are left of that original group of students. Some died in battle, some went back home and some moved abroad.
After the 1994 ceasefire agreement, we held onto our weapons until 1997, then returned them to the [Kachin Independence Army]. On Aug. 8, 2011, the KIA allowed us to hold weapons again. They provided us with the weapons.
At first, former soldiers joined again, then students and the youth heard about the news and wanted to join the fight against the current military government.
Q: What were you doing during the 17-year ceasefire? Why didn't you move to your headquarters in Shan State?
A: After the ceasefire, we promised the KIA that we will not cause problems to the ceasefire, so we left for the south. We went to Ruili in China at the end of 1997 and stayed there for almost two years, waiting to continue south. We couldn't cross, so we came back. We went into business. Now we have stopped our business, but family members continue to run them.
We really want an end to the ethnic conflicts. We want real peace in Burma. We want a second Panglong Conference to be held.