Myanmar - Civil War

Rebel groups in Myanmar See summary

Recent articles: Thousands across Arakan State protest against fighting 05/06 Buddhist monk builds another pagoda on contested Land 05/05 Despite Cease-fire, Myanmar Landmine Scourge Goes Unaddressed 05/05 NLD dismisses MP for unauthorised visit to Wa region 05/04 NLD MP to be penalised for unauthorised meet with Wa leader 05/03 Upper House approves motion to end fighting in Rakhine State 05/03 Myanmar Army and KIA Clash near Mohnyin Jade Mine 05/03 Security tightened to prevent weapons entering Arakan State 05/02 Myanmar boat disaster victims Muslim, but which ones? 05/02 Burma Army and KIA Clash near Mohnyin Jade Mine 05/02 Wa army invited to Myanmar's peace talks 05/01 Army Reinforces troops near SSPP/SSA's Loi Say-LoiLeng Base 04/29 Nationalist Buddhists protest at US Embassy against its use of word ‘Rohingya’ 04/29 State Counsellor to lead peace initiative 04/27 Kachin State fighting between KIO and Myanmar Army resumes 04/26 Landmines: Myanmar’s hidden menace 04/26 Clashes resume in Kachin State between KIO and army 04/25 Rakhine sees refugee surge 04/24 Myanmar Army expansion leads to increase in abuses - SHRF 04/23 Chinese Expeditionary Force's last surviving veteran of Achang ethnic group dies 04/21 Map of Burma Army's offensive in Kachin State 04/20 Myanmar military officer killed in clashes with ethnic armed group in western state 04/19 Clashes continue with Arakan Army 04/19 Suu Kyi reaches out to rebels with federalism vow 04/18 Eleven Myanmar: US ambassador promises to push for peace 04/12 Eleven Myanmar: ANP rebel refuses to accept dismissal 04/12 The Guardian: Myanmar can flourish by sowing seeds of agricultural prosperity – Deirdre May Culley and Martha Baxter 04/12 ‘We attend this parliament term with high hopes’ 04/11 Myanmar frees 113 political prisoners, jails two Muslim activists 04/09 Looking across the river towards a better future 04/09 Muslim activists jailed on migration offenses in Myanmar 04/08 Six Arakan Army rebels sentenced by the court 04/08 The Irrawaddy: Inflammatory spokesman Zaw Htay promoted within president’s office leadership – Moe Myint 04/07 The Irrawaddy: KNU prepares land for future IDP and refugee repatriation – Saw Yan Naing 04/07 A Million Reasons for Caution in Burma 04/06 ‘We all need to participate in the ongoing changes’ 04/06 Follow-up meeting between ethnic armed groups planned 04/05 Shan State tension increases as new government searches for peace 04/05 Clashes between Burma Army and KIA Battalion 12 in Mansi Township 04/03 Upper House votes to name Suu Kyi as state counsellor 04/02 Radio Free Asia: Myanmar Army and rebel soldiers engage in new clashes in Rakhine State 04/01 Myanmar's secret shame 04/01 Frontier Myanmar: Mixed reaction to new ethnic ministry – Mratt Kyaw Thu & Soe Than Lynn 04/01 The Irrawaddy: Joint Ceasefire Monitoring Committee to extend mandate – Nyein Nyein 04/01 Shan Herald Agency for News: Eight NCA signatories form steering committee at Chiang Mai summit 03/31 Narinjara: Protesters call for ANP’s right to form Arakan State government 03/31 Eleven Myanmar: Cement factory plan axed 03/31 Rohingya abuse: Myanmar's shame 03/31 Displaced by continued fighting in Myanmar's Shan state 03/30 Myanmar swears in first elected civilian president 03/30 Myanmar democracy takes momentous step with new president 03/30 Eleven Myanmar: SNLD rejects government appointments to focus on political goals 03/30 The Irrawaddy: New national defense and security council formed – San Yamin Aung 03/30 Myanmar lifts state of emergency in troubled Rakhine state 03/29 Myanmar lifts 4-year curfew in state after communal violence 03/29 The Diplomat: Assessing Myanmar’s new cabinet – Joshua Kurlantzick 03/29 Xinhau Net: 3 more regional chief ministers approved for appointment in Myanmar 03/29 The Irrawaddy: Ethnic armies pledge talks first, ‘joint defense’ contingency – Lawi Weng & Nan Lwin Hnin Pwint 03/29 Thein Sein leaves legacy of reform 03/29 The Irrawaddy: Tenasserim Chief Minister Lei Lei Maw: ‘We will rebuild our country’ – San Yamin Aung 03/29 KIA and Burma Army Clash at Sisi Wong Hill 03/29 Myanmar’s army marches on 03/28 Myanmar Times: Government dissolves MPC, transfers assets – Guy Dinmore   03/25 The Irrawaddy: UWSA to host ethnic armed groups at war with government – Lawi Weng 03/25 Radio Free Asia: Protesters in western Myanmar demand the right to choose chief minister 03/24 Myanmar Now: Ethnic rebels hope for peace under new president 03/24 Shan Herald Agency for News: 72 Arrested in Shan State drug rehab raid 03/24 Myanmar Times: NLD leader’s next challenge: the bureaucracy – Wa Lone   03/24 Democratic Voice of Burma: Peace is our first priority, says NLD patron Tin Oo 03/24 Eleven Myanmar: SNLD turns down cabinet position offer 03/23 Myanmar Times: Aid groups urge new focus on IDPs – Manny Maung   03/23 Myanmar Now: Ethnic rebels hail new president, hope for peace process success 03/22 The Irrawaddy: New portfolio, old political hand for ethnic affairs post – Lawi Weng 03/22 New Myanmar government plans ethnic affairs ministry 03/21 Ethnic ministry ‘vital’: Myanmar president-elect 03/21 Myanmar Times: Chief ministers to be named at the end of March, NLD official – Wa Lone and Thu Thu Aung   03/21 Myanmar’s ethnic rebels pin hope on new civilian president 03/21 The Irrawaddy: UN agencies report continued food insecurity in post-disaster areas 03/21 Myanmar Times: EU ends funding for MPC and says assets must stay – Guy Dinmore and Lun Min Mang   03/21 The Irrawaddy: Peace stakeholders soul-searching with MPC’s fate in limbo – Saw Yan Naing & Lawi Weng 03/21 Burma News International: Myanmar Army launches air strikes against TNLA 03/21 Frontier Myanmar: The Shan State chief minister saga – Kyaw Phone Kyaw 03/21 Burma News International: Army deserters convicted of raping children 03/21 The Irrawaddy: KBZ Bank, army-run companies among top corporate tax payers – Kyaw Hsu Mon 03/21 Myanmar Times: Military accused of detaining villagers – Thu Thu Aung   03/21 Eleven Myanmar: NLD promises to listen to public on Myitsone 03/21 NLD promises to listen to public on Myitsone Dam 03/20 Myanmar's ethnic rebels pin hope on new civilian president 03/19 Myanmar Army launches air strikes against TNLA 03/18 Myanmar: UN recommends measures to address ongoing food insecurity in cyclone-hit areas 03/17 ‘Myanmar, now stands on the threshold of hope’ Cardinal Charles Maung Bo 03/16 The Irrawaddy: Palaung groups accuse Burma army of torture in Shan State – Lawi Weng 03/16 Myanmar refugees in China caught between political fault lines 03/16 Myanmar Times: Complaints as Rakhine State Hluttaw goes back into recess – Nyan Lynn Aung  03/16 Deadly Landmines Bring Terror To Millions In Myanmar 03/15 Thailand begins major human trafficking trial 03/15 Suu Kyi aide Htin Kyaw elected as Myanmar's new president 03/15 Eleven Myanmar: SNLD says relationship with NLD not strained 03/15 Myanmar military questions Aung San Suu Kyi picks ahead of presidential vote 03/15 General Saw Lah Pwe dies in Bago Hospital 03/15


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.