Democratic Karen Buddhist Army

The Democratic Karen Buddhist Association (Burmese: တိုးတက်သော ဗုဒ္ဓဘာသာ ကရင်အမျိုးသား အစည်းအရုံး; abbreviated DKBA) was an insurgent group of Buddhist soldiers and officers in Myanmar that split from the predominantly Christian led Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA), one of the largest rebel factions in Myanmar. Shortly after splitting from the KNLA in December 1994, the DKBA signed a ceasefire agreement with the government of Myanmar in exchange for military and financial assistance; provided that it supported government offensives against the KNU (the political wing of the KNLA) and its allies.[2]

Democratic Karen Buddhist Association
တိုးတက်သော ဗုဒ္ဓဘာသာ ကရင်အမျိုးသား အစည်းအရုံး
LeadersPa Dho Thar Htoo Kyaw
Dates of operation1994 (1994)–2010 (2010)
Active regionsKayin State, Myanmar
IdeologyKaren nationalism
Theravāda Buddhism
Allies Union of Myanmar
OpponentsState opponents

Non-state opponents

Battles and warsInternal conflict in Myanmar



The DKBA was formed for a variety of reasons. A Buddhist monk named U Thuzana had started a campaign in 1992 of constructing pagodas in Karen State, including at the KNU headquarters of Manerplaw. As the KNU leadership would not grant permission for construction of the pagodas, claiming they would attract government air strikes, Thuzana began to encourage KNLA soldiers to desert the organisation. Following a couple skirmishes and failed negotiations in early December 1994, the DKBA announced its formation and its split from the KNU on 28 December 1994.[2]


Pado Mahn Shar, the secretary-general of the Karen National Union, was assassinated at his home in Mae Sot, Thailand, on 14 February 2008. Several analysts claim that the assassination was possibly carried out by soldiers of the DKBA, though this has never been confirmed.[3][4][5]


In 2010, the informal alliance between the government and the DKBA began to deteriorate in the aftermath of the Burmese general elections in 2010, when the DKBA clashed violently with Tatmadaw forces. The violence caused a massive exodus of refugees across the border into Thailand, particularly through border crossings controlled by the DKBA. On 12 November, Al-Jazeera English reported that the DKBA had joined forces with the Karen National Liberation Army, a move believed to be in response to the threat of a government crackdown.[6]

Dissolution and creation of the DKBA-5Edit

In 2010, DKBA soldiers split away from the organisation and renamed themselves the Democratic Karen Benevolent Army - Brigade 5 (DKBA-5), which was led by Bo Nat Khann Mway (Saw Lah Pwe). The newly formed group originally had five brigades under its control (hence its name), but currently commands only three.[7][8][9][10]


  1. ^ "Armed ethnic groups". Retrieved 4 January 2019.
  2. ^ a b Archived 2 January 2014 at the Wayback Machine, Uppsala Conflict Encyclopedia, Myanmar (Burma)
  3. ^ Radnofsky, Louise (14 February 2008). "Burmese rebel leader shot dead". London: Retrieved 14 February 2008.
  4. ^ "Burmese rebel leader is shot dead". BBC News. 14 February 2008. Retrieved 8 March 2008.
  5. ^ Radnofsky, Louise (14 February 2008). "Burmese rebel leader shot dead". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 8 March 2008.
  6. ^ "Myanmar rebel armies join forces". Al-Jazeera English. 12 November 2010. Retrieved 12 November 2010.
  7. ^ Noreen, Naw (7 November 2010). "DKBA renegades seize border town". Democratic Voice of Burma. Archived from the original on 30 December 2010. Retrieved 3 January 2011.
  8. ^ Weng, Lawi (8 November 2010). "DKBA Troops Seize Three Pagodas Pass". The Irrawaddy. Archived from the original on 10 November 2010. Retrieved 3 January 2011.
  9. ^ Wade, Francis (3 August 2010). "KNU general-secretary says Saw La Bwe may come home". Archived from the original on 25 July 2011. Retrieved 3 January 2011.
  10. ^ "Burma attack 'a warning of possible civil war'" (Press release). Burma Campaign UK. 8 November 2010. Retrieved 3 January 2011.

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