Ceasefires in Burma

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Ceasefires in Burma have been heavily utilized by the Burmese government as a policy to contain ethnic rebel groups and create tentative truces. The first ceasefire was arranged by the State Law and Order Restoration Council in 1989, specifically spearheaded by Khin Nyunt, then the chief of Military Intelligence, with the Kokang-led National Democratic Alliance Army, which had recently split from the Communist Party of Burma due to internal conflicts.[1]


November 1963 peace talks collapsed and members of the Communist Party of Burma walking back to their rebel bases after the end of conference in Rangoon.

The internal conflict in Burma began after the country's independence in 1948, as successive central governments of Burma (or Myanmar) fought myriad ethnic and political rebellions. Some of the earliest insurgencies were by Burmese-dominated "multi-colored" leftists and by the Karen National Union (KNU). The KNU fought to carve out an independent Karen state from large swaths of Lower Burma. Other ethnic rebellions broke out only in the early 1960s after the central government refused to consider a federal style government. By the early 1980s, politically oriented armed insurgencies had largely withered away, but ethnic-based insurgencies remained alive and well during the conflict.

In the 1980s, rebel groups controlled most of the country's periphery. The two major organizations fighting against the Burma Socialist Programme Party-led government, were 2 umbrella groups, the pro-Chinese Communist Party of Burma (allied to local Kokang Chinese, Wa and Shan groups), based along the Chinese-Burmese border and the pro-West National Democratic Force (made up of ethnic Mon, Karen, Karenni and Shan opposition groups), based along the Thai-Burmese border.[1]

By the late 1980s, the Communist Party of Burma (CPB) had weakened considerably, because of waning Chinese financial support and internal strife. During the 1988 Uprising, the CPB failed to seize the opportunity to invoke political change. A month later, the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC), a council of military men, staged a coup d'etat. Consequently, ethnic Wa and Kokang armed forces led a mutinee against CPB, forming the United Wa State Party (UWSP) and National Democratic Alliance Army (NDAA) respectively.[1] SLORC used this opening to arrange ceasefires with the armed rebel groups that had just mutineed, under a policy designed by Khin Nyunt, who was then the Chief of Military Intelligence.[1]


The signed ceasefire agreements have been nothing more than temporary military truces to suspend fighting and preserve the status quo, allowing the rebel groups to retain administrative control of their territories. Weaker or splinter rebel groups typically wield forfeit their territories to the government.[1] Most agreements simply stipulated that the groups would be allowed to retain their arms and territories until the promulgation of a new Constitution.

As part of the ceasefires, the government began the Border Area Development Programme in 1989, which became a ministry-level body in 1992, as Ministry for the Progress of Border Areas and National Races and has built road infrastructure, schools and hospitals in rebel-occupied territories.[2]

Border Guard Forces[edit]

In April 2009, a government entourage, led by Lieutenant-General Ye Myint, met with the Wa, Shan and Kokang rebel groups, and established a blueprint to absorb rebel groups' armies and transition them to the command of the Tatmadaw, a necessary qualification of the 2008 Constitution, to allow the ethnic groups to participate in the 2010 elections.[3] This blueprint would establish the Border Guard Forces (BGF), with each battalion made of 326 soldiers, including 18 officers and 3 commanders (one of whom would be from the Tatmadaw).[3] A specific BGF would only be deployed within its territory and be paid the same salaries as normal soldiers.[3] The deadline was initially set for June 2009 but extended 5 times.[4] 4 rebel groups, namely the New Democratic Army - Kachin (NDAK), Kachin Defense Army (4th Brigade of the KIA), Pa-O National Organization (PNO) and the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army, accepted the transition's terms.[5]

In August 2009, in the Kokang incident, the Kokang-led militia, the National Democratic Alliance Army (NDAA), which had signed a ceasefire agreement in 1989, was attacked by Tatmadaw troops, for rejecting the Border Guard Force proposal, leading to 30,000 refugees streaming to the Burmese-Chinese border.[6] Similar demands were placed on the United Wa State Army (UWSA), the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), the National Democratic Alliance Army-Eastern Shan State (NDAA), leading to breakouts of fighting in 2009.[7]

List of ceasefires[edit]

Since 1989, the Burmese government has signed the following ceasefire agreements[8][9]

Organization Region Effective date Notes
National Democratic Alliance Army (NDAA) Special Region 1, Shan State 21 March 1989 Kokang-led, split from the Communist Party of Burma
United Wa State Army (UWSA) Special Region 2, Shan State 9 May 1989 Also known as the Myanmar National Solidarity Party, split from the Communist Party of Burma
National Democratic Alliance Army (NDAA) Special Region 4, Shan State 30 June 1989
Shan State Army (SSA) Special Region 3, Shan State 2 September 1989
New Democratic Army (Kachin) (NDA-K) Special Region 1, Northeast Kachin State 15 December 1989
Kachin Defence Army (KDA) Special Region 5, Northern Shan State 13 January 1991 Former 4th Brigade of the Kachin Independence Organization
Pa-O National Organization (PNO) Special Region 6, Southern Shan State 11 April 1991
Palaung State Liberation Army (PSLA) Special Region 7, Northern Shan State 21 April 1991
Kayan National Guard (KNG) Special Region 1, Kayah State 27 February 1992
Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) Special Region 2, Kachin State 24 February 1994 Ceasefire broke down on 9 June 2011, when fighting resumed.[10]
Karenni State Nationalities Peoples' Liberation Front (KNPLF) Special Region 2, Kayah (Karenni) State 9 May 1994
Kayan New Land Party (KNLP) Special Region 3, Kayah (Karenni) State 26 July 1994
Shan State Nationalities Peoples' Liberation Organization (SSNPLO) Southern Shan State 9 October 1994
New Mon State Party (NMSP) Mon State 29 June 1995
Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) Karen State 1995
Mongko Region Defence Army (MRDA) Shan State 1995 Split from Myanmar National Democracy Alliance Army
Shan State National Army (SSNA) Shan State 1995
Karenni National Defence Army (KNDA) Karen State 1996 Split from KNPP
Karen Peace Force (KPF) Karen State 1997 Former 16th Battalion of the Karen National Union
Communist Party of Burma (Arakan Province)(CPB) Rakhine State 1997
Mon Mergui Army (MMA) Mon State 1997 Split from New Mon State Party
KNU Special Region Group Toungoo (KNU) Bago Division 1997
Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP) Kayah State 2005 Ceasefire broke down within 3 months
Shan State Army – South (SSA-South) Shan State 2006
New Democratic Army-Kachin (NDAK) Kachin State 2007
Kayan National Liberation Army (KNLA) Karen State 2007 Former 7th Battalion of the Karen National Union
Democratic Karen Buddhist Amy (DKBA) 3rd Brigade Karen State 3 November 2011[11] Fighting resumed on 19 February 2012.[12]
Kaloh Htoo Baw armed group Karen State 5 November 2011[13] Former DKBA
Chin National Front
Karen National Union
Shan State Army-South
- 19 November 2011[14] Informal ceasefire agreement.
Despite a ceasefire agreement in place, fighting is still occurring between the Tatmadaw and SSA-South rebel troops, as of March 2012.[15]
Chin National Front (CNF) Chin State 8 January 2012[16]
Karen National Union (KNU)[17] Karen State 7 February 2012[18]
Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS) Shan State 17 January 2012[19] Political arm of Shan State Army
Shan State Progressive Party (SSPP) Shan State 28 January 2012[20] Political arm of the Shan State Army
New Mon State Party (NMSP) Mon State 31 January 2012[21]
Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP) Kayah State 6 March 2012[22]


  1. ^ a b c d e Kramer, Tom (July 2009). Neither War Nor Peace: The Future of Cease-fire Agreements in Burma. Amsterdam: Transnational Institute. 
  2. ^ Lall, Marie (23 November 2009). "Ethnic Conflict and the 2010 Elections in Burma". Asia Program Papers (Chatnam House). 
  3. ^ a b c Wai Moe (31 August 2009). "Border Guard Force Plan Leads to End of Ceasefire". The Irrawaddy. Retrieved 21 March 2012. 
  4. ^ McCartan, Brian (30 April 2010). "Myanmar ceasefires on a tripwire". Asia Times. Retrieved 21 March 2012. 
  5. ^ "NDF Report on Ceasefire Groups Resisting SPDC’s Pressure and Instability". National Democratic Front (Burma). Mae Sot, Thailand. 7 March 2010. Retrieved 21 March 2012. 
  6. ^ Dittmer, Lowell (30 September 2010). Burma Or Myanmar? the Struggle for National Identity. World Scientific. ISBN 9789814313643. 
  7. ^ McCartan, Brian (10 September 2009). "China, Myanmar border on a conflict". Asia Times. Retrieved 21 March 2012. 
  8. ^ "List of Cease-fire Agreements with the Junta". The Irrawaddy. 1 January 2004. Retrieved 18 March 2012. 
  9. ^ "Cease-Fire Agreements with the Junta – Women Excluded from the Process". Global Justice Center. Retrieved 18 March 2012. 
  10. ^ Untold Miseries: Wartime Abuses and Forced Displacement in Burma’s Kachin State. Human Rights Watch. 2012. ISBN 1564328740. 
  11. ^ Saw Yan Naing (4 November 2011). "DKBA Brigade 5 Reaches Ceasefire with Naypyidaw". The Irrawaddy. Retrieved 20 March 2012. 
  12. ^ Saw Yan Naing (23 February 2012). "DKBA Ceasefire Breaks Down". The Irrawaddy. Retrieved 20 March 2012. 
  13. ^ "Kayin State peace making group, Kaloh Htoo Baw armed group (former DKBA) sign initial peace agreement". New Light of Myanmar. 5 November 2011. Retrieved 19 March 2012. 
  14. ^ Saw Yan Naing (21 November 2012). "KNU and SSA-South Informally Agree Ceasefire with Govt.". The Irrawaddy. Retrieved 20 March 2012. 
  15. ^ Lawi Weng (20 March 2012). "Govt Troops Clash with SSA-South Despite Truce". The Irrawaddy. Retrieved 20 March 2012. 
  16. ^ "Initial peace agreement inked between State Level Peace-making Group and CNF". New Light of Myanmar. 8 January 2012. Retrieved 19 March 2012. 
  17. ^ Mydans, Seth (12 January 2012). "Burmese Government and Ethnic Rebel Group Sign Cease-Fire". New York Times. Retrieved 19 March 2012. 
  18. ^ "Kayin State peace-making group, KNU/KNLA Peace Council sign initial peace agreement". New Light of Myanmar. 7 February 2012. Retrieved 19 March 2012. 
  19. ^ "Union level peace-making group, RCSS/SSA peace-making group sign 11 initial agreement". New Light of Myanmar. 17 January 2012. Retrieved 19 March 2012. 
  20. ^ "Peace agreement signed between Union level peace-making group and Shan State Progressive Party (SSPP)/Shan State Army peace-making group". New Light of Myanmar. 29 January 2012. Retrieved 19 March 2012. 
  21. ^ "Mon State level peace-making group, NMSP peace-making group sign initial agreement". New Light of Myanmar. 2 February 2012. Retrieved 19 March 2012. 
  22. ^ "State level peace-making group, KNPP peace-making group sign initial agreement". New Light of Myanmar. 8 March 2012. Retrieved 19 March 2012.