Myanmar - Civil War

Rebel groups in Myanmar See summary

Recent articles: Cement Factory Raises New Fears of Land Confiscation and Pollution 04/23 Ethnic Women ‘Ignored, Abused And Victimized’ 04/23 The Irrawaddy: US will ‘consider seriously’ requests to support Burma’s peace process 04/23 In Pictures: Myanmar's opium hotspot 04/23 Wardrums in Myanmar's Wa hills 04/23 Kachin rebels renew plea for US role to ensure fair Myanmar peace 04/22 Myanmar: UNICEF warns children of Kachin face growing threats due to recent fighting 04/22 ‘Urgent help’ needed in Kachin State: UNICEF 04/22 Myanmar rebel leader urges US role in peace talks 04/22 Myanmar's Kachin rebels renew plea for US role to ensure fair peace 04/22 The Irrawaddy: Project to tell stories of thousands of political prisoners 04/22 Mizzima News: UNFC meets in Thailand to discuss ceasefire negotiations 04/22 The Irrawaddy: In north Burma, ‘Tatmadaw only fights to defend itself’: Government 04/22 Democratic Voice of Burma: Kachin IDPs urged to return home despite ongoing violence 04/22 UNICEF: Myanmar Children Face Growing Threats 04/22 US warns of action against Burma's ethnic violence, Kachin rebels call for US involvement in peacetalks 04/22 Eleven Media Group: Civil orgs plan counter IRI survey 04/21 Eleven Media Group: Why conflict continues in Kachin State 04/21 Burma rebel leader urges U.S. role in peace talks 04/21 The Irrawaddy: 5,000 displaced by Kachin clashes amid KIO leader’s US visit 04/21 Associated Press: Myanmar says 22 dead in Kachin fighting this month 04/21 UNFC meets in Thailand to discuss ceasefire negotiations 04/21 Kachin rebels renew plea for U.S. role to ensure fair Myanmar peace 04/21 Myanmar rebel leader urges US role in peace talks 04/21 Myanmar army says 22 dead in clashes with rebels 04/20 Myanmar says 22 people killed this month as fresh fighting flares in strife-torn Kachin state 04/20 Myanmar says 22 dead in Kachin fighting this month 04/20 Democratic Voice of Burma: Amid peace talks, health cooperation in Karen State sends positive signals 04/18 Golden Jubilee of Shan State Army founding to be held at SSA HQ 04/18 Fighting Intensifies in Northern Burma 04/17 Burmese soldiers killed in conflict against Kachin rebels 04/17 Eleven Media Group: Fighting rages in Kachin State during Thingyan 04/17 Fighting Intensifies in Northern Burma 04/16 PBS: Inside Myanmar’s transition from isolation to openness 04/15 Radio Australia: Myanmar’s ethnic minorities forced to flee their homes 04/15 The Irrawaddy: Making opium (and the past) go away 04/14 Democratic Voice of Burma: Dr Cynthia responds to Thameelay villagers 04/14 Burmanet 04/14 Burma commander-in-chief warns of war 04/12 Fighting starts on last census day 04/12 Kachin state's NDA-K region to get park for rare monkey 04/11 Myanmar: UN welcomes establishment of probe into recent attacks on aid workers 04/11 National park designated in NDAK territory 04/11 Democratic Voice of Burma: Hundreds flee as census-related clashes break out in Kachin 04/11 The Irrawaddy: In Moulmein, a hospital continues its long battle with leprosy 04/11 Turkish parties criticize U.S. decision on Armenian allegations 04/11 UN News Centre: Myanmar: UN welcomes establishment of probe into recent attacks on aid workers 04/10 The Irrawaddy: Armed groups, government still disagree on Burma ceasefire wording 04/09 Myanmar to provide security for returning aid workers 04/09 Democratic Voice of Burma: TNLA deny forced conscription, killing of Lisu people 04/09 Myanmar Times: Wa will decide to take part in nationwide ceasefire 04/09 The Irrawaddy: While talks continue, KIO keeps war footing 04/08 The Irrawaddy: Shan, Wa rebels clash over gold in Eastern Burma 04/08 The Irrawaddy: As census winds down, 85% of Burmese population counted: Official 04/08 Disagreements delay talks on national ceasefire agreement 04/08 UN voices serious concern over worsening situation in Myanmar’s Rakhine state 04/07 UN expert alarmed at worsening human rights situation in Myanmar's Rakhine state 04/07 Inside Myanmar’s Karen State 04/07 A long war’s lingering reminder 04/04 Irrawaddy: TNLA clashes with Burma Army as census continues 04/04 Sexual violence by Burma army still a major concern 04/04 Democratic Voice of Burma: UN’s Nambiar urges greater KIO commitment to peace as battles rage in Kachin 04/04 The Irrawaddy: Karen State government refuses villagers’ resettlement in rebel area 04/04 Sexual violence by Burma army still a major concern 04/03 Democratic Voice of Burma: Palaung rebels forcibly recruit villagers, kill those who refuse, say Lisu locals 04/02 Mizzima News: Palaung push for distinct ethnic code for census 04/02 The Irrawaddy: Burma authorities halt villagers’ journey to new homes in rebel territory 04/02 Asian Correspondent: Full extent of anti-NGO attacks in western Burma emerging 04/02 U.S. calls for end to humanitarian curbs in Myanmar's Rakhine 04/02 Explosion heats up census 04/01 Finland hosting conference on dialogue and mediation 04/01 Myanmar Times: Census off to a bad start in Rakhine State 04/01 The Irrawaddy: Kachin National Park planned to protect monkey threatened by logging 04/01 Finland hosting conference on dialogue and mediation 03/31 Foreign aid agencies flee Myanmar riots 03/31 Explosion outside CNF liaison office in Tidim 03/31 Myanmar Times: U Mann Nyein Maung on Myanmar’s peace process and the future of the KNU 03/31 Myanmar protests against foreign aid workers escalate 03/28 Myanmar: UN official calls on authorities to ensure safety of aid workers, premises 03/28 Buddhist-led mobs in western Myanmar attack international aid workers' homes 03/27 Buddhist mobs in Myanmar attack aid workers' homes 03/27 The Irrawaddy: Army Chief says ethnic conflicts must end for Burma’s development 03/27 Democratic Voice of Burma: Foreign aid workers ‘huddled’ in Sittwe police station 03/27 Protesters opposed to Myanmar census attack NGO offices 03/27 Tiger Head party pledges to build genuine federal union in Burma 03/27 Buddhist Mob Attacks International Aid Group Office in Burma 03/27 Democratic Voice of Burma: Opponents slam Thein Sein’s anniversary speech 03/27 Democratic Voice of Burma: Burma’s badly needed census may have come too soon 03/26 The Rohingya Conflict 03/26 Tatmadaw must end indiscriminate attacks on civilians, says US university’s human rights report 03/26 Burma President Affirms Slowly Declining Role for Military 03/26 Burma Army arrests and tortures suspected of associating with SSA 03/26 Businessweek: Myanmar’s growing—and dangerous—jade trade 03/25 Myanmar army role to be 'gradually' decreased: president 03/25 Burma Army arrests and tortures suspected of associating with SSA 03/25 A federal army for Myanmar? 03/24 2,000 Civilians Flee Burma Army Attacks 03/22 DAMS, LIES AND PIPELINES 03/21 Turning a new leaf? Ethnic rebels along Myanmar's rugged frontier help eradicate poppy fields 03/20 Mongla to call for self administered status 03/20


Myanmar (aka Burma) has been in a state of constant civil war since independence in 1948. Powerful elements within the Burman (or Bamar) ethnic group, who constitute about 60% of the population and 40% of the land mass, have felt that they should dominate the country’s social, economic, and political realms. However, Myanmar is one of the most ethnically diverse countries in the world with key non-Burman ethnic groups demanding equality with the Burmans in the three public realms, specifically the protection of ethnic culture, language, and religion, the devolution of tangible executive, legislative, and judicial power to the ethnic states within a true federal union, and a democratic form of government. With their demands unmet, the ethnic groups turned to armed insurgency. Despite many political and military alliances among them, they have been unable to use these alliances to best advantage because of cultural differences and diverse agendas.

The civil war and the perceived threat of secession by ethnic states from Myanmar led in 1962 to a military coup. Since then, the military has dominated the affairs of the country seeing itself as the sole force capable of holding the country together. The military’s dictum is “one country – one army.”

The major non-Burman ethnic groups are the Arakanese, Chin, Kachin, Shan, Karenni, Karen, and Mon, all of which have their own states in which they are the dominant ethnic group. All these states have ethnic insurgent activities of varying intensities against the Myanmar military (aka Tatmadaw). The Tatmadaw has been employing a “Four Cuts” counterinsurgency strategy which attempts to deny the ethnic insurgents access to food, funding, information, and recruits. Also the Myanmar regime policies have led to the impoverishment of and human rights abuses toward the ethnic peoples leading hundreds of thousands of them to seek safety in adjacent countries – Thailand, China, India, and Bangladesh, through resettlement in other countries, and as internally displaced persons in the jungle inside Myanmar.

The following are the current most active ethnic armed groups fighting against the Myanmar regime for ethnic rights, federalism, and democracy and to stop human rights abuses against their respective ethnic groups:
Arakan (aka Rahkine) State: Arakan Liberation Army (ALA) and the Arakan Army (AA).
Chin State: Chin National Army (CNA).
Kachin State: Kachin Independence Army (KIA)
Shan State: Kachin Independence Army (KIA), United Wa State Army (UWSA), National Democratic Alliance Army (NDAA Mongla), Shan State Army - South (SSA - S), Shan State Army - North (SSA - N), Wa National Army (WNA), Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), Lahu Democratic Front (LDF), Palaung State Liberation Front (PSLF), and the Pa’O Peoples Liberation Army (PPLA).
Karenni (aka Kayah) State: Karenni Army (KnA) and the Kayan New Land Party (KNLP).
Karen (aka Kayin) State: Karen National Defense Organization/Karen National Liberation Army (KNDO/KNLA) and the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA).
Mon State: Mon National Liberation Army (MNLA).

Additionally in Arakan State, the Rohingya National Army (RNA), is fighting against the regime for religious rights and the recognition of the Rohingya people as an ethnic group with special geographic areas set aside in Arakan State for them to institute Islamic laws and practice their culture as Muslims. These aspirations are a source of conflict between them and the Arakan Buddhists who consider the Rohingya as migrant Bengali Muslims with no legitimate claim to ethnicity in Myanmar.