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National United Front of Arakan (NUFA)

The Arakanese people number some four million and live in the western hill country of Myanmar. National United Front of Arakan (NUFA), the principal military organization of the State of Arakan, with more than two hundred regular soldiers, the majority Arakanese with some Chin and Rohingas.

Arakan (now called Rakhine) became part of the newly independent Union of Burma in 1948 and its three districts became Rakhine Division. From the 1950s, there has been a growing movement for secession and restoration of Rakhine independence. The National United Front of Arakan (NUFA) was one of the principal military organisations of the State of Arakan.

The Rakhines are a predominantly Buddhist ethnic group, who are in the majority in Arakan State, although they are a very small minority in Bangladesh. The Rohingyas are a predominantly Moslem group, related to the Bengalis of Bangladesh and India. They are a minority in Arakan State but they form the bulk of refugees in Bangladesh.

Ethnic tension among the Arakanese is a reality, consisting of suspicion, jealousy and ignorance built up from conflicts in ancient history and compounded immeasurably by the persecutions of the military regime based in central Burma. The Rohingyas, a Moslem ethnic minority, consider themselves marked for obliteration by the Burmese regime, and suspect the Rakhine majority (Buddhist, like the central Burmese) of collaborating in such oppression. The Rakhine people believe themselves under threat of forced assimilation by the Burmese regime, and often lack understanding of Rohingya complaints.

The membership of anti-government resistance groups tends to be segmented along ethnic lines: NUFA, the BCP, and the ABSDF are largely Rakhine with some tribal members in NUFA and BCP; while ARIF, RSO and several smaller groups are Rohingya. NUFA (National United Front of Arakan) was formed in 1988 as an alliance of resistance groups including the small but long-operating forces of the ALP (Arakan Liberation Party), AIO (Arakan IndependenceOrganization) and ACP (Arakan Communist Party). The BCP (Burmese Comunist Party) still exists in Arakan, although its large-scale national force andheadquarters dissolved in 1989.




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