Ceasefires in Myanmar

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Ceasefires in Myanmar 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]


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

The internal conflict in Myanmar began after the country's independence in 1948, as successive central governments of Myanmar (or Burma) 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 Myanmar. Other ethnic rebellions broke out 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 active during the conflict.

In the 1980s, rebel groups controlled most of the country's periphery. The two major organisations fighting against the Burma Socialist Programme Party-led government, were two 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 mutiny against CPB, forming the United Wa State Party (UWSP) and the National Democratic Alliance Army (NDAA) respectively.[1] SLORC used this opportunity to arrange ceasefires with the armed rebel groups that had just mutinied, under a policy designed by Khin Nyunt, who was then the Chief of Military Intelligence.[1] The deal fell short of its nationwide billing, with seven of the fifteen armed groups invited declining to sign because of disagreements over who the process should include, and ongoing distrust of Myanmar's semi-civilian government and its still-powerful military.[2]

National Reconciliation after 1988[edit]

Government troops heavily used four cuts counter-insurgency tactics in ethnic areas in the 1990s.[3] Most ethnic groups became armed after the first military coup in 1962 and successive military governments used four cuts counter insurgency policy in ethnic areas. This policy involved: the cut off communications among rebel armed groups as well as local people; the cut off of information among people; the cut off of trade route in designated territories; searches and the destruction of any possible supplies to cut off these areas. [4] On the other hand, the military government forced ethnic groups to sign ceasefire agreements with ethnic rebels groups, while government troops were trying to root out their main bases in 1990s. In meanwhile, ethnic minorities’ political parties which won seats in 1990 elections, and formed the second largest pro-democracy block after NLD, were severely oppressed in cities. By the end of the century, there were twenty armed opposition groups had cease fire agreements with governments.[5] However, the government did not hold political discussions with these groups or winning political parties. Therefore, some ethnic groups continued their armed struggle against the government. The ethnic populations suffered the most the result of long-standing hostilities with the central government. They have been treated as enemies of the state and second class citizens [3]


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 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 the Ministry for the Progress of Border Areas and National Races and has built road infrastructure, schools, and hospitals in rebel-occupied territories.[6]

On 31 March 2015, Burmese President Thein Sein signed a nationwide ceasefire draft along with many ethnic leaders and government officials.[7]

Border Guard Forces[edit]

In April 2009, Lieutenant General Ye Myint led a government entourage to meet with Kokang, Shan and Wa insurgent groups, to discuss plans to create "collective security" formed by them and under the command of the Tatmadaw, which would eventually lead to the creation of the Border Guard Forces.[8] In 2009, four of the insurgent groups, the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army, the Kachin Defence Army (4th Brigade of the KIA), the New Democratic Army - Kachin (NDA-K), and the Pa-O National Organisation/Army (PNO/A), accepted the transition plan's terms and transformed into BGF groups.[9]

List of ceasefires[edit]

Since 1989, the Burmese government has signed the following ceasefire agreements[10][11]

Organisation Region Effective date Notes
Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) 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 Defense Army (KDA) Special Region 5, Northern Shan State 13 January 1991 Former 4th Brigade of the Kachin Independence Organisation
Pa-O National Organisation (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 Organisation (KIO) Special Region 2, Kachin State 24 February 1994 Ceasefire broke down on 9 June 2011, when fighting resumed.[12]
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 Organisation (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
KNU/KNLA Peace Council (KNU/KNLA PC) Karen State 2007 Former 7th Battalion of the Karen National Union
Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) 3rd Brigade Karen State 3 November 2011[13] Fighting resumed on 19 February 2012.[14]
Kaloh Htoo Baw armed group Karen State 5 November 2011[15] Former DKBA
Chin National Front
Karen National Union
Shan State Army-South
- 19 November 2011[16] 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.[17]
Chin National Front (CNF) Chin State 8 January 2012[18]
Karen National Union (KNU)[19] Karen State 7 February 2012[20]
Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS) Shan State 17 January 2012[21] Political arm of Shan State Army
Shan State Progressive Party (SSPP) Shan State 28 January 2012[22] Political arm of the Shan State Army
New Mon State Party (NMSP) Mon State 31 January 2012[23]
Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP) Kayah State 6 March 2012[24]


  1. ^ a b c d e Kramer, Tom (July 2009). "Neither War Nor Peace: The Future of Cease-fire Agreements in Burma" (PDF). Amsterdam: Transnational Institute. 
  2. ^ "Myanmar signs ceasefire with eight armed groups". Reuters. 2016-10-15. Retrieved 2016-12-01. 
  3. ^ a b http://www.mmpeacemonitor.org/conflict/conflict-overview
  4. ^ Shan Human Rights Foundation (SHRF). (1998). Dispossessed: forced relocation and extrajudicial killings in Shan State. Chiang Mai: SHRF Special Publication.
  5. ^ Wilson, T. (2006). Myanmar's long road to national reconciliation (1st ed., p. 39). Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies
  6. ^ Lall, Marie (23 November 2009). "Ethnic Conflict and the 2010 Elections in Burma". Asia Program Papers. Chatnam House. 
  7. ^ Tun, Thiha (2 April 2015). "Myanmar Government And Ethnic Leaders Sign Tentative Peace Deal". Radio Free Asia. 
  8. ^ Wai Moe (31 August 2009). "Border Guard Force Plan Leads to End of Ceasefire". The Irrawaddy. Archived from the original on 2 March 2011. Retrieved 21 March 2012. 
  9. ^ "NDF Report on Ceasefire Groups Resisting SPDC’s Pressure and Instability" (PDF). National Democratic Front (Burma). Mae Sot, Thailand. 7 March 2010. Retrieved 21 March 2012. 
  10. ^ "List of Cease-fire Agreements with the Junta". The Irrawaddy. 1 January 2004. Retrieved 18 March 2012. 
  11. ^ "Cease-Fire Agreements with the Junta – Women Excluded from the Process" (PDF). Global Justice Center. Retrieved 18 March 2012. 
  12. ^ "Untold Miseries: Wartime Abuses and Forced Displacement in Burma’s Kachin State" (PDF). Human Rights Watch. 2012. ISBN 1564328740. 
  13. ^ Saw Yan Naing (4 November 2011). "DKBA Brigade 5 Reaches Ceasefire with Naypyidaw". The Irrawaddy. Retrieved 20 March 2012. 
  14. ^ Saw Yan Naing (23 February 2012). "DKBA Ceasefire Breaks Down". The Irrawaddy. Retrieved 20 March 2012. 
  15. ^ "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. 
  16. ^ Saw Yan Naing (21 November 2012). "KNU and SSA-South Informally Agree Ceasefire with Govt.". The Irrawaddy. Retrieved 20 March 2012. 
  17. ^ Lawi Weng (20 March 2012). "Govt Troops Clash with SSA-South Despite Truce". The Irrawaddy. Retrieved 20 March 2012. 
  18. ^ "Initial peace agreement inked between State Level Peace-making Group and CNF". New Light of Myanmar. 8 January 2012. Retrieved 19 March 2012. 
  19. ^ Mydans, Seth (12 January 2012). "Burmese Government and Ethnic Rebel Group Sign Cease-Fire". New York Times. Retrieved 19 March 2012. 
  20. ^ "Kayin State peace-making group, KNU/KNLA Peace Council sign initial peace agreement". New Light of Myanmar. 7 February 2012. Retrieved 19 March 2012. 
  21. ^ "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. 
  22. ^ "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. 
  23. ^ "Mon State level peace-making group, NMSP peace-making group sign initial agreement". New Light of Myanmar. 2 February 2012. Retrieved 19 March 2012. 
  24. ^ "State level peace-making group, KNPP peace-making group sign initial agreement". New Light of Myanmar. 8 March 2012. Retrieved 19 March 2012.