Myanmar - Civil War

Rebel groups in Myanmar See summary

Recent articles: The Myanmar Times Parties split over dialogue proposals – Ei Ei Toe Lwin and Ye Mon 09/19 Chin League for Democracy party will open sub-offices in most townships in Chin state 09/19 The Myanmar Times: Parliament to press Malaysia on unsolved killings – Pyae Thet Phyo 09/18 Democratic Voice of Burma: Karen rebels respond to orders to disarm – Naw Noreen 09/18 Independent Mon News Agency: UNA and NLD to hold talks regarding Burma’s political framework 09/18 The Irrawaddy: Tensions rise as military orders rebels to disarm in Myawaddy – Lawi Weng 09/17 The Irrawaddy: Karen rebels, government troops clash as peace talks loom – Saw Yang Naing 09/17 Eleven Media: Ceasefire draft expected as Myanmar government and ethnic groups meet next week 09/17 UNA and NLD to Hold Talks Regarding Burma’s Political Framework 09/17 KNU Will be Committing ‘Political Suicide’ If It Leaves the UNFC, says Karen Women’s Organization 09/16 Bomb Found Near Thai-Burma Friendship Bridge In Myawaddy 09/16 Democratic Voice of Burma: Upper House approves plan to ‘make life more pleasant’ for Arakanese 09/16 Democratic Voice of Burma NLD ‘not invited’ to political conference 09/16 Election Commission By-election Cancellation Pleases and Upsets Karen Political Parties 09/16 Phoenix TV: Myanmar NGO warns Japan against development projects in Myanmar 09/15 A framework for next stage of Myanmar’s peace process to be proposed by 56 political parties 09/14 The Irrawaddy: Burma official asks US Congress not to block military engagement 09/12 The Irrawaddy: Pa-O, Shan rebels meet after clash over territory 09/11 The Irrawaddy: Burma’s ethnic armed groups want Thein Sein in peace talks 09/11 Arakan National Party township committee elections are well under way 09/10 Karen Women Urge KNU To Rejoin UNFC 09/10 Democratic Voice of Burma: Hardliner announces ABSDF split 09/08 The Diplomat: The outlook for LGBT rights in Myanmar – Matthew McFetridge 09/08 UNFC expects KNU to return 09/08 Malaysia steps up opposition crackdown with colonial-era sedition law 09/07 With sedition dragnet, Malaysia takes step back to Mahathir era 09/07 The other side of the story: KNU and UNFC can still “make it up” with each other 09/05 The Outlook for LGBT Rights in Myanmar 09/05 UNFC would welcome KNU return to ethnic armed alliance 09/05 Democratic Voice of Burma: Karen State parliament closes with passage of two laws 09/05 The Myanmar Times: Yangon bomb accused tells court he faced death threats 09/05 Mizzima News: Political parties question whether by-elections will be ‘free and fair’ 09/05 The Irrawaddy: Veterans of the Karen insurgency face a new struggle 09/04 UNFC would welcome KNU return to ethnic armed alliance 09/04 The Irrawaddy: What Burma’s rebel educators want from school reform 09/04 KNU chairman walks out of UNFC conference 09/02 Shan Farmers Petition the President to Withdraw Government Soldiers from Shan State 09/01 In Myanmar, Karen Leave Ethnic Umbrella Group 09/01 DVB Ends Radio Broadcasting 08/28 Taiwan honours WWII Nationalist troops killed in Myanmar 08/28 Colonel Chit Thu – “Border Guard Force Stands By The Karen People…” 08/27 The Irrawaddy: Shan, Wa and Mongla leaders meet Burmese President and army chief 08/27 Democratic Voice of Burma: Ethnic bloc to meet NLD, 88-Generation in Thailand 08/27 Taiwan honours WWII Nationalist troops killed in Myanmar 08/27 The Irrawaddy: Thai company asks Burma’s president to support power plant 08/27 To Hopeland and Back - Day 3 08/27 NGO worked with Myitsone dam firm to establish Kachin wildlife park in NDA-K area 08/26 Democratic Voice of Burma: UN advisor Nambiar concludes trip to Burma 08/26 UN adviser calls for taking 'leap of faith' to ensure peaceful, unified Myanmar 08/25 The Myanmar Times: Ethnic leaders want Suu Kyi in on ceasefire 08/25 The Myanmar Times: Army will discuss federalism 08/25 NCCT Leader Requests Civil Society Organizations Refrain from Participating in Tripartite Peace Talks 08/25 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


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.