It's been called the world's longest-running war. And yet, you may have never heard of it: the Karen resistance in Burma.

What's going on: The Karen ethnic group, which makes up about 7 percent of the total Burmese population, and a guerrilla army of Karens has been fighting since 1949 for independence from Burma.

Background: In World War II, many Karen fought alongside the British army against the invading Japanese. The 7 million Karen were promised their own state by the British but when independence came in 1948 the promise was forgotten. A year later, in January 1949, the Karen began the armed struggle that has continued ever since.

Why it matters: As Burma briefly enters the world's spotlight in the leadup to the election on Sunday, the majority of outsiders tend to think of Aun San Suu Kyi as the face of opposition. The Karen resistance and other ethnic armies often remain overlooked, yet they are among the greatest current threats to the Burmese junta.

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