At dusk in northern Myanmar, fighters from the Ta’ang National Liberation Army patrol their frontlines and mark the positions of junta troops, their decades-long conflict with the military fraught with new risks since the coup. The TNLA is one of around a dozen ethnic rebel groups in Myanmar’s borderlands that have long battled the military over autonomy and control of lucrative resources. For decades, their fight for autonomy — and allegations of massive human rights abuses by the armed forces — passed largely out of sight of Myanmar’s Bamar ethnic majority. Following the military’s 2021 coup and brutal crackdown on dissent, however, groups like the TNLA have become vital to Myanmar’s battle for democracy, providing shelter and training for new Bamar-dominated “People’s Defence Forces” formed to fight the junta. “We got sympathy, understanding and support from other people in Myanmar after the coup,” TNLA Brigadier General Tar Bhon Kyaw said from the group’s territory in northern Shan state.