The Ethnic Peace Process in Myanmar ミャンマーにおける民族和平プロセス

Narayanan Ganesan (Professor)


 *This article is from Hiroshima Research News #59

The Republic of the Union of Myanmar in Southeast Asia has one of the longest running civil wars in Southeast Asia. They started in 1949 just a year after the country achieved its political independence from Britain when it used to be called Burma. The civil wars are a function of the unhappiness of ethnic minorities in the country who predominantly live in the peripheral and highland areas of the country. They felt oppressed and persecuted by the country’s Bamar ethnic majority and took up arms against the state and its government. Since the post-independence government was weak and had limited capacity it was unable to defeat the ethnic insurgencies and consolidate territorial control over the entire country.

Developments arising from democratization

The partially democratic elected government of President Thein Sein attempted to bring some 16 ethic armed groups within a Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) in October 2015. However, it was only able to persuade 8 out of the 16 groups to do so. There were another 5 groups that the government and military refused to deal with since they were regarded as newly formed and lacking legitimacy. When the National League for Democracy (NLD) government led by Aung San Suu Kyi won the election in November 2015 it continued the process of dialogue with the armed groups and regarded the achievement of internal peace as the most important agenda item for itself. The government’s term is due to expire soon but it has managed to persuade 2 more groups to join the NCA. The remaining groups have refused to do so and formed a new organization called the Northern Alliance in late 2016 that is nominally led by the United Wa State Army (UWSA). Many of the fighters from this largest ethnic army that has a troop strength of 30,000 and an auxiliary army of another 10,000 were previously from the Burmese Communist Party (BCP) that collapsed in 1989.

Recent developments and China’s growing involvement

The Northern Alliance has declared its unwillingness to sign on to the terms of the NCA and has instead offered its own version of a ceasefire agreement. Both the current government and the military have thus far refused to go along with changes to the NCA. In fact, the disagreement between the two parties is so strong that they often quibble even over where to meet for peace talks. The Northern Alliance tends to prefer Kunming in China while the Myanmar government and military typically favour a venue within Myanmar. Since 2016 China has taken an active interest in brokering peace between the two parties, a development that is not always liked by the Myanmar military since sovereign issues are at stake. But the groups in the Northern Alliance come predominantly from the Northern Shan and Kachin states that have long had political and economic linkages with China and Yunnan province in particular.

Within this Northern Alliance is a smaller subset group called the Brotherhood Alliance that brings together 4 organizations. The largest among them is the Kachin Independence Organization/Army (KIO/KIA). This group had a previous bilateral ceasefire agreement with the military that broke down in 2011 and since then has been involved in major fighting with the military. The areas that the KIO controls include areas that are rich in gems like jade and amber that the military is keen to wrest control of. The remaining 3 groups that often act in concert against the military are the Arakan Army (AA- Rakhine ethnic group), Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA - Kokang ethnic group) and the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA - Palaung ethnic group). The military is especially furious with these groups for their brazen attacks on towns along the Myanmar-China border like Muse since 2016. Consequently, the military has been rather unwilling to negotiate with these groups and has in the past demanded an unconditional surrender first. While both the military and the members of the Brotherhood Alliance have declared unilateral ceasefires in the past, the fighting continues unabated. The government is not always able to control the military that remains relatively independent.

Significantly increased fighting in Rakhine and Chin states

Since late 2019 the fighting has been especially severe in Chin and Arakan states in the west of the country as the AA attempts to obtain a foothold in these areas. Traditionally, it was headquartered in Laiza in Kachin state in the north and supported by the KIO. However, it has recently attempted to enlarge its footprint to include ethnic areas that it claims to represent. The military on the other hand is unprepared to allow such an expansion of the group’s presence and has fought pitched battles that have led to heavy casualties on both sides. Arising from this intense fighting there are now well over 100,000 new internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Rakhine state alone with about 6,000 more in Chin state. These IDPs are over and above the more than 100,000 similar persons in Kachin state and the 140,000 Muslim IDPs in Rakhine state that were displaced by the political violence against the community in 2012. And if the civil conflicts are traced further back there are still more than 90,000 primarily Karen refugees in Thailand that have been there for the last three decades.

Impact on Myanmar’s international relations

Of more recent vintage is the 730,000 Muslim refugees that have streamed into Bangladesh from the military’s clearance operations in 2017. As a result of these developments Myanmar’s bilateral relations with Bangladesh and Thailand have been strained. Similarly, relations with Malaysia in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has also been strained. Malaysia currently shelters more than 100,000 Myanmar Muslim Rohingya refugees under the auspices of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Additionally, large numbers of refugees regularly attempt to flee the refugee camps in Bangladesh and Myanmar to more hospitable neighbouring countries like Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand. Consequently, this seemingly internal conflict has had major reverberations in the region.

The Myanmar government has just now reached an agreement to hold the 4th Panglong Peace Conference in July 2020 with signatories to the NCA after the conference was postponed in 2019 over disagreements involving issues related to a new federal form of government and the future composition of the national army. The government is also hoping to woo the non-signatories and in particular the KIO and the UWSA to join the meeting. It remains to be seen whether greater progress will result from the forthcoming meeting and how the situation will evolve after the November 2020 national elections. Japan is involved in assisting the peace process and IDPs through the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the Nippon Foundation.


ナラヤナン・ガネサン (教授)

*この記事は『Hiroshima Research News』59号に掲載されたものです。

ミャンマー連邦共和国では、東南アジアで最も長く内戦が続いている。この内戦は、ミャンマーがまだビルマと呼ばれていた頃、英国から政治的独立を達成してからわずか1 年後の1949年に始まった。それは、主に国内の周辺部や高地で暮らす少数民族の不満によって引き起こされたものである。これらの少数民族は、ミャンマーの多数派民族であるビルマ族に抑圧され迫害されていると感じ、国家とその政府に対し武装蜂起したのである。独立後に樹立された政府は弱く、限定的な能力しか備えていなかったため、少数民族の反政府組織を


部分的に民主主義を取り入れて、選挙で選出されたテイン・セイン大統領政権は2015年10月に、約16の少数民族による反政府組織に全国停戦協定(NCA)を締結させようと試みた。しかし、16組織中、政府の説得に応じて同協定に署名するに至ったのは8 組織だけだった。これらの組織以外にも、発足して日が浅く正統性に欠けているとみなされたため、ミャンマー政府と軍隊が接触することを拒んだ組織も五つあった。2015年11月にアウン・サン・スー・チー氏率いる国民民主連盟(NLD)が総選挙で勝利した際、同連盟は武装勢力との対話プロセスを継続し、国内平和の実現を政権の最優先課題に位置付けた。この政権はもうすぐ任期満了を迎えることになっているが、これまでさらに二つの組織を説得して全国停戦協定に加わらせることに成功した。だがそれ以外の組織は署名を拒否し、2016年後半に、名目上はワ州連合軍(UWSA)によって統括されている北部同盟と呼ばれる新たな組織を発足させた。この3 万人の兵力数を有する最大の民族軍と兵力数1 万人の補助軍の兵士の多くが、1989年に崩壊したビルマ共産党(BCP)の元党員である。



北部同盟内には、四つのグループが合併したブラザーフッド同盟(Brotherhood Alliance)と呼ばれる下部組織がある。ブラザーフッド同盟の中で最大のグループはカチン独立機構/独立軍(KIO/KIA)である。このグループは過去に、ミャンマー軍との間に二者間停戦協定を締結していたが、この協定は2011年に決裂した。それ以降、このグループはミャンマー軍と激しい戦闘を続けている。カチン独立機構が支配する地域には、翡翠(ひすい)や琥珀などの宝石を豊富に埋蔵する地域が含まれており、ミャンマー軍はこれらの地域の支配権を奪取することに強い関心を寄せている。北部同盟の残る三つの下部組織としてしばしば連携してミャンマー軍に対抗しているのは、アラカン軍(略称AA。ラカイン族のグループ)、ミャンマー民族民主同盟軍(略称MNDAA。コーカン族のグループ)、タアン民族解放軍(略称TNLA。パラウン族のグループ)である。ミャンマー軍は、これらのグループが2016年以来、ミャンマーと中国の国境地帯にあるムセなどの町に仕掛けている大胆な攻撃に対して特に激しく怒っている。その結果、ミャンマー軍はこれらのグループと交渉することに強い拒否感を示しており、まずはこれらのグループが無条件降伏することを要求している。ミャンマー軍とブラザーフッド同盟の構成組織はいずれも過去に一方的停戦を宣言したことがあるが、戦闘は収束することなく続いている。また、ミャンマー政府は独立色の強いミャンマー軍を常に管理下におくのは不可能だ。




より最近の重要な出来事のひとつとして、2017年にミャンマー軍が展開した掃討作戦から逃れてバングラデシュに流出した73万人のイスラム系住民難民の存在が指摘できる。これらの出来事で、ミャンマーとバングラデシュ、ミャンマーとタイの二国関係に緊張が生じている。また、ASEAN 内におけるミャンマーとマレーシアとの関係も緊張を帯びている。


ミャンマー政府は全国停戦協定に署名した諸組織との間で、第4 回パンロン和平会議を2020年7月に開催することで合意した。この会議は当初2019年に予定されていたが、新たな連邦政府の形態や国軍の今後の構成などに関する意見の相違によって延期されていた。ミャンマー政府は、カチン独立機構やとワ州連合軍をはじめとする非署名組織にも同会議への参加を促したい考えである。間近に迫る同会議が大きな前進をもたらすか否か、また2020年11月に行われる国政選挙後に状況がどのように進展するかは、今後の展開を見るまでわからない。日本は国際協力機構(JICA)および日本財団を通じてこの和平プロセスと国内避難民の支援に携わっている。