The KNU has been fighting for determination and autonomy in one of the world’s longest civil wars. Following Myanmar's independence from the British in 1948, the Karen National Defence Organization (KNDO) was formed to fight against the central government. This name was later changed to the KNU.
The SSA-S was formed from the Shan United Revolutionary Army (SURA) by Lt-Gen.Yawd Serk that opposed the ceasefire with the government made by the mainstream SSA, now known as SSA-N. The SURA was a breakaway faction of the Mong Tai Army led by drug lord Khun Sa and previously the original Shan State Army.