Myanmar - Civil War

Rebel groups in Myanmar See summary

Recent articles: UNFC Ethnic Alliance Clears Up "Misunderstanding" with Naypyidaw 11/21 Myanmar army says deadly strike against rebels meant only as 'warning' 11/21 Shan New Year heralds year of peace 11/21 Two more armed groups cry foul over Kachin killings 11/21 Kachin killings condemned by ethnic groups 11/21 Rebels say Myanmar army killed 23 11/20 Myanmar Stages Surprise Attack on Kachin; 20 Dead 11/20 Burma Army shelling of Laiza training ground was deliberate says KIO 11/20 Two Villagers Wearing SSA Golden Jubilee Shirts Detained by Burma Army 11/20 'Mistaken' shell attack leaves Kachin peace talks in jeopardy 11/20 Myanmar army attack kills 23 rebel force cadets 11/20 The Irrawaddy: United Wa State Army denies anti-aircraft purchase – May Kha & Lawi Weng 11/20 The Irrawaddy: Thai army to observe Burma ceasefire meetings in Thailand – Saw Yan Naing 11/20 Creativity key to peace dividends in Myanmar 11/20 Myanmar army attack kills over 20 Kachin fighters 11/20 The Irrawaddy: Burma Army says deadly shelling of rebels was ‘unintentional’ – Hnin Yadana Zaw & Nyein Nyein 11/20 Myanmar's Kachin rebels say 22 dead, 15 injured in attack by army near northern headquarters 11/19 KIA Fight with Burma Army in Kachin State 11/19 Myanmar's Kachin rebels say 22 dead in fighting 11/19 Mon M.P. Tells Obama Peace Process Will Be Faster under a Federalist System 11/19 The Irrawaddy: Arakan State government ‘condemns’ UN Rohingya statement – Lawi Weng 11/19 Democratic Voice of Burma: MPs pass bill to pay themselves higher salaries – Ko Htwe 11/19 Kachin rebels say 23 cadets killed by Myanmar army shell 11/19 Myanmar Stages Surprise Attack on Kachin; 20 Dead 11/19 Thai authorities demand monitoring of EAO meetings 11/18 The Irrawaddy: Students seek four-party dialogue on education law – Nobel Zaw 11/18 The Irrawaddy: Queensland Rohingyas appeal to G-20 Summit world leaders 11/18 KIA fight with Burma Army in Kachin state 11/18 Myanmar national's arrest from Hyderabad takes al Qaeda threat to next level 11/18 'Campaign to create fear' sends Rohingya fleeing Myanmar in larger numbers, activist says 11/17 Queensland Rohingyas Appeal to G-20 Summit World Leaders 11/17 Shan Community Calls on US President Obama to Condemn Government Attacks in Ethnic Areas during His Burma Visit 11/17 The Irrawaddy: Burma military should have less power: Obama – Lawi Weng 11/14 The Irrawaddy: Students protest education law in downtown Rangoon – Nobel Zaw 11/14 The Irrawaddy: Lower House chairman rejects PR system proposal – Hnin Yadana Zaw 11/14 Shan groups plea to Obama over stalled peace process 11/13   Kachin groups send letter to US President calling for constitution redraft   11/13 ‘People support our wish to amend the constitution,’ says Suu Kyi 11/13 Obama Warns Myanmar's Celebrated Reforms Going Backwards 11/13 Despite Obama outreach, Myanmar’s transition to democracy remains troubled 11/12 Burma's Authorities Involved in Human Trafficking, Says Human Rights Group 11/12 Obama and Aung San Suu Kyi: A pragmatic US shift on 'the Lady'? (+video) 11/12 NGOs fear international community has been duped by the ‘peace message’ 11/12 Myanmar 'backsliding' on reforms in some areas, Obama says 11/12 Four Civilians in Hsipaw Arrested and Beaten on Suspicion of Having Contact with Shan State Army 11/11 Wa discuss reopening of Thai-Myanmar border checkpoint 11/11 Phophtaw News Association: Kachin Independence Army called on to free forced Shan conscripts 11/11 The Associated Press: Ethnic rebel armies an unsolved Myanmar puzzle –Todd Pitman 11/11 Stalled reforms, South China Sea to dominate Myanmar's ASEAN party 11/11 Myanmar's Child Refugees Share Their Stories Through Visual Art 11/11 About 1,000 Militia Forces Involved in Attacks against SSPP/SSA 11/11 The Irrawaddy: Police search for ‘Terrorist’ Rohingya suspects in Mon, Pegu states – Nyein Nyein 11/11 The Irrawaddy: Ethnic leaders meet Burma government ahead of regional summits – Saw Yan Naing 11/11 UNFC: No deal made with ‘The Lady’ 11/10 Burma Army 'Targeting, Attacking and Killing' Civilians in Conflict Areas 11/10 The Associated Press: Myanmar parliament denounces US blacklisting 11/10 KIO Must Free 200 Forcibly Recruited Shans 11/10 About 1,000 militia forces involved in attacks against SSPP/SSA 11/10 Four civilians in Hsipaw arrested and beaten on suspicion of having contact with Shan State Army 11/10 Wa, Naypyitaw Discuss Opening of Thai-Burmese Border Checkpoint 11/10 Karen Party Targets Five Ethnic Karen Nationalities Affair Seats in 2015 Election 11/10 The Irrawaddy: Probe into slain journalist’s death ongoing – Yen Snaing 11/10 Kayin displaced people afraid to go home 11/08 Myanmar: Persecution of Rohingya Muslims stymies democratization 11/07 KIO Accountant Arrested for Collecting Tax in Hpakant 11/07 Burmas state security forces profit from trafficking Rohingya Muslims 11/07 Report accuses Myanmar generals of war crimes 11/07 KIO Accountant Arrested for Collecting Tax in Hpakant 11/07 Report accuses Myanmar commanders of war crimes 11/07 Activist, Wife: Slain Journalist's Body Shows Signs of Torture 11/06 Signs of torture on body of slain reporter 11/06 Human Rights in Myanmar Under Scrutiny Ahead of ASEAN Summit 11/06 Mekong nations join forces to tackle drug smugglers 11/06 Report accuses Burmese military of crimes against humanity 11/06 Associated Press: Wife: signs of torture on body of Myanmar reporter 11/06 Lack of Interest in NUP Leads to Call for Youth Candidates 11/06 Wife of Myanmar journalist shot dead by military says his body bore signs of torture 11/06 Signs of torture on body of slain Myanmar reporter 11/05 Tourists in Thailand Are Traveling to See Suffering Burmese Migrants 11/05 Myanmar exhumes body of journalist killed in military custody 11/05 Framework for Peace Dialogue Developed by 56 of Myanmar's Smaller Political Parties 11/05 Wa, Naypyitaw discuss opening of Thai-Burmese border checkpoint 11/04 Myanmar borders body of slain journalist to be exhumed 11/04 Civilians Report Abuses amidst Latest Fighting in Kachin and Shan States 11/04 Police to exhume body of slain Myanmar journalist 11/04 The Irrawaddy: Kachin civil society groups rally for two jailed IDPs – Nyein Nyein 11/04 KNU Confirms Withdrawal from Ethnic Armed Alliance 11/04 'A War without a Song' 11/03 Old Wars in the 'New Burma' 11/03 The Irrawaddy: What does the future hold for Aung Thaung & Sons? – Seamus Martov 11/03 The Myanmar Times: How the USDP went from courting to spurning Rakhine State’s Muslims – Bill O’Toole 11/03 Journalist Ko Par Gyi's Body to Be Exhumed 11/03 Myanmar orders body of slain journalist to be exhumed 11/03 UN resolution urges Myanmar to drop identity plan 11/02 Myanmar's president, army chief meet Suu Kyi 10/31 Obama Calls for 'Inclusive and Credible' Elections in Myanmar 10/31 President Obama calls for 'inclusive' vote process in Myanmar 10/31 Opinion: Myanmar's multi-party talks could be a model for the future 10/31 Myanmar hosts talks with opposition leader Suu Kyi to show progress ahead of Asian summit 10/31 International Assistance May Depend on Ceasefire Agreement: Lamai Gun Ja 10/30


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.