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The Southern Water Tribe rebels were a group of renegade citizens of the Southern Water Tribe committed to achieving independence from Chief Unalaq and the Northern Water Tribe, particularly through the withdrawal of Northern troops from the South Pole. Assembled by Varrick, at first the insurgents unknowingly fought the Northern occupation for the purpose of protecting his business interests when they were threatened by Unalaq's naval blockade. After a failed attempt to kidnap Unalaq, they were captured, but later freed by Team Avatar. Having learned of his brother's machinations, Tonraq decided to join the rebels, who subsequently appointed him chief. Despite their continued resistance, the rebels were eventually decimated. However, due to Korra defeating Unalaq and consequently ending the civil war, their goals were realized after all.
When Unalaq began to move his forces into the Southern Water Tribe shortly after Avatar Korra opened the spirit portal in the South Pole, the Northern Water Tribe Military started to blockade the ports and mobilize troops on the ground. In response, Varrick rallied a group of citizens who congregated in Tonraq's house to drive the Northern occupation out of the South.
A small band of rebels later attacked Unalaq and attempted to kidnap him, but their efforts were thwarted by Korra. The incident led to the arrest of the insurgents involved, as well to the detainment of Tonraq and Senna for conspiracy to assassinate Unalaq. Varrick was able to evade arrest.
The rebels were put on trial under the jurisdiction of Judge Hotah, who sentenced all but Senna to death. However, after being threatened by Korra and prompted to reconsider his verdict by Unalaq, Judge Hotah conceded and sentenced the rebels to life imprisonment. Korra later discovered that the trial was staged by Unalaq with the intent of eliminating Tonraq, and Team Avatar proceeded to free the rebels from prison.
Under Tonraq's leadership, the rebels returned to the Southern Water Tribe, where they intended to hold off the Northern forces until Team Avatar was able to secure President Raiko's support and the aid of the United Forces. Vastly outnumbered, the rebels holed up in the hills near the capital city. Although Unalaq knew this, they were not attacked, as he considered them no threat there.
When it became clear that President Raiko would not be sending the United Forces as reinforcements, Tonraq led an attack on the capital city in an attempt to drive out the Northern soldiers. Though their initial attack was successful, Unalaq led a counterattack with the aid of a large number of dark spirits, routing the rebels and capturing Tonraq. Most of the rebels retreated to the White Lotus compound, where their injuries were tended to by Katara and several other healers. Nevertheless, the rebels' goals were achieved when Korra defeated Unalaq soon after, gaining independence for the Southern Water Tribe and prompting the group to disband.
- The rebel leader who organizes Unalaq's kidnapping is voiced by Nolan North.