Several militias representing other ethnic minorities have signed ceasefires with the government, but since June 9, the national Army and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), a 10,000-strong militia in Myanmar's northern Kachin state, have fought some heavy battles, with an estimated 50,000 civilians fleeing their homes.
A December order by President Thein Sein for the Myanmar Army to unilaterally cease fire in Kachin state has went unheeded, it appears, with fighting continuing almost daily in an area close to southwest China.
In order for peace to be lasting, former refugee Zoya Phan, whose father was a former head of the KNU and assassinated in Thailand in 2008, says that a deal “should guarantee rights and autonomy for the Karen and bring peace for all the people in Burma.”
Myanmar's last census was in 1983 and of its estimated 50- to 60-million population, it lists 135 ethnic groups. The ethnic Burmans form the largest group, at perhaps 65 percent of the total, with other significant groups including the Shan, Karen, Rakhine, and Kachin, all with strongholds along Myanmar borderlands with Thailand, China, and India.