Myanmar - Civil War

Rebel groups in Myanmar See summary

Recent articles: Leprosy: Myanmar struggles with an ancient scourge 08/21 KIO's Gun Maw and other ethnic leaders meet Suu Kyi 08/20 Travelling back home 08/20 NCCT wants Daw Aung San Suu Kyi to witness ceasefire agreement 08/19 KIO's Gun Maw other ethnic leaders meet Suu Kyi 08/19 “There can be no more silence on the continued aggression against ethnic people…” 08/18 Rakhine’s Chief Minister promises improved coastguard 08/18 Thai Burma Border Schools Battle Shortage of Teachers and Learning Materials 08/18 Democratic Voice of Burma: Kachin villagers get apology from Burma Army commander 08/18 KNU warns it will block any efforts to return refugees prematurely 08/18 The Myanmar Times: Government denies political prisoners remain behind bars 08/18 VIDEO: Mong La: The land where anything goes 08/17 Rakhine’s Chief Minister promises improved coastguard 08/15 CNF attends Asian Peace Conference in Cambodia 08/15 Fundamental Points are Needed for Peace, says NCCT leader Nai Hongsar 08/15 Democratic Voice of Burma: NLD rejects ‘joint statement’ released by UPWC 08/14 The Irrawaddy: 200 Kachin civilians flee fighting near Hpakant 08/14 CNF attends Asian Peace Conference in Cambodia 08/14 Democratic Voice of Burma: Federalism on agenda at ethnic leaders’ meeting 08/13 The Irrawaddy: Laiza under the gun 08/13 The Irrawaddy: Karen martyrs day marked in Rangoon for the first time 08/13 The Irrawaddy: Burma’s peace process could take ‘several generations’ 08/13 Democratic Voice of Burma: First heritage plaque unveiled in Rangoon 08/12 Shan Community Groups Call on United States to Pressure Burma Government to Halt Military Attacks in Shan State 08/11 Fortify Rights: Charges Against Rohingya Activist “Unfounded” 08/11 The Irrawaddy: Wa rebel army denies all involvement in drug trade 08/11 US’s Kerry presses Myanmar leaders on human rights, reforms 08/09 USDP not willing to accept donation from Nippon Foundation 08/08 Democratic Voice of Burma: Activist sentenced to one year for false claims of NLD coup 08/07 Myanmar ranked 89th out of 99 in ‘Rule of Law’ index 08/07 The Wall Street Journal: Elections will test Burma’s new democracy 08/06 The Irrawaddy: Japanese donors, governmentt, KNU discuss aid projects in rebel areas 08/06 Radio Free Asia: Myanmar government expects cease-fire deal soon 08/05 Elections Will Test Burma's New Democracy 08/05 The Irrawaddy: Muslim organization makes offerings to Mandalay Buddhist monks 08/05 MPC welcomes Laiza statement 08/04 Myanmar military releases 91 child soldiers 08/01 MPC welcomes Laiza statement 08/01 Ethnic armed groups summit in Laiza ends with call for federal union 08/01 Proportional representation opens door to extremists, says Tatmadaw MP 07/31 Ethnic armed groups summit in Laiza ends with call for federal union 07/31 Democratic Voice of Burma: Laiza ceasefire talks enter final stages 07/30 Drugs as common as roasted pea-snacks, says Amyotha speaker 07/30 Burma’s Reforms Undermined by “Political Repression, Cronyism and Ongoing Conflicts,” says New Report 07/30 Chin Activists Convicted under Controversial Assembly Laws 07/29 For unity’s sake, SSA-S leader urges Shan parties to postpone their demands for a certain number of states 07/29 US says millions forced to flee for religious beliefs in 2013 07/29 Foreign Policy: Myanmar’s last front 07/28 Democratic Voice of Burma: ‘Are we revolutionaries?’ debate ethnic leaders 07/28 Democratic Voice of Burma: MPs debate pros and cons of proportional representation 07/28 Millions displaced by religious violence in 2013 07/28 U.S. says millions forced to flee for religious beliefs in 2013 07/28 Democratic Voice of Burma: Karenni leader urges caution on final day of ceasefire talks 07/28 Drugs as common as roasted pea-snacks, says Amyotha speaker 07/28 Myanmar: MSF Cautiously Welcomes Offer to Return to Rakhine 07/25 Myanmar/ Burma – Resumption of Doctors Without Borders activities (24.07.14) 07/25 Burma's ethnic armed groups meet in Laiza for peace conference 07/25 Myanmar Legislature Considers Proportional Representation 07/24 Burma's ethnic armed groups meet in Laiza for peace conference 07/24 The Diplomat: U.K. Minister of State Hugo Swire on Burma – Hugo Swire 07/21 The Women’s League of Burma Accuses Burma Army Of Protecting Rapists In Its Ranks 07/21 Resume fighting between Burma Army and Shan State Army-North affects six villages 07/21 The Myanmar Times: SSA-N to blame for fighting, says vice minister 07/21 CNF will attend NCCT members meet 07/20 NCCT to meet and finalize presentation for Laiza summit 07/19 Thai government defends refugee repatriation 07/18 U.K. Minister of State Hugo Swire on Burma 07/18 New political party to represent Chin people 07/18 NCCT to meet and finalize presentation for Laiza summit 07/18 The KNU has appointed five delegates including the KNU chairman to attend national peace talks in Laiza in late July. 07/17 KIC: China backed dam projects “fuelling” conflict in Shan State 07/17 Democratic Voice of Burma: Shwe Mann objects to MP calling ethnic armies ‘revolutionaries’ 07/17 Democratic Voice of Burma: Women activists stand trial in Chin State for protesting against army rape 07/16 The Irrawaddy: Shan MP asks government to cease army operations in Northern Shan State 07/16 Mizzima News: Armed groups in Kayin State to help resettle returned refugees 07/16 Democratic Voice of Burma: Ceasefire language must be ‘simple and coherent’, says Thein Sein 07/15 The Irrawaddy: UN rights body says government detention of Kachin farmer illegal 07/15 New political party to represent Chin people 07/15 Mon Negotiating Team to Hold a Conference 07/15 KIC: State authorities harass women’s activists following anti-rape protests 07/14 Thai junta to send back Myanmar refugees 07/14 Democratic Voice of Burma: Karen armed groups united to combat illicit drugs 07/14 Concern at Thailand's planned deportation of refugees to Myanmar 07/14 Crude bomb blast wounds 6 in India; 4 men abducted 07/12 Myanmar: Displaced Kachin Face Bleak Future 07/10 Myanmar reporters sentenced to jail 07/10 ‘Bi Mon Te Nay’ reporter’s whereabouts unknown, says family 07/10 State Authorities Harass Women’s Activists Following Anti-Rape Protests 07/09 Peace Process: Both sides ready to make “further compromise” 07/09 Thai Raid Exposes Trafficking Ring, Systemic Problems 07/09 Burma Football Friendly Brings Together Battlefield Opponents 07/08 Over 100 Villagers Flee Burmese Army amid Mounting Tension in Shan State 07/08 Myanmar Football Friendly Brings Together Battlefield Opponents 07/08 Battling to Survive – “I Remember Carrying Their Rations and Crying…” 07/07 Over 100 villagers flee Burma Army abuses amid mounting tension in central Shan State 07/07 Fighting Between KNLA and Burma Army – Kills One, Wounds One… 07/07 Dalai Lama issues plea to Buddhists in Myanmar, Sri Lanka 07/07 Democratic Voice of Burma: Karens hold funeral for ‘strong and fearless leader’ Gen. Tamla Baw 07/01 Myanmar Times: Ethnic armed groups, opposition parties to meet in Mae Sot 07/01 The Irrawaddy: Burma Election Commission begins compiling voter lists 07/01


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.