Bombs Not the Answer
covering burma and southeast asia
Monday, October 25, 2021


Bombs Not the Answer

By YENI MAY, 2010 - VOLUME 18 NO.5


There appears to be no rhyme or reason to the recent spate of bombings in Burma.

This year, the hot season in Burma really means hot.

In April alone, bomb explosions echoed all the way from Rangoon to the country’s northern and eastern regions. Attacks targeted the main China-Burma trade gate in Muse, Shan State on April 14; a pavilion at the annual water festival in Rangoon on April 15; the Myitsone dam project in Kachin State on April 17; and a police station in Demawso in Karenni (Kayah) State on April 27.

The operations appear to have been well-planned, with politically motivated aims, and like the plot of an Agatha Christie novel, abound with motives. The bomb blasts took place as the military government prepares for general elections condemned as unfair and undemocratic by the opposition, attempts to pressure ethnic cease-fire groups to join its “border guard force” and evicts people from their land while selling off prime state resources to China.

Bomb attacks are nothing new in Burma—it’s a country that has struggled with civil war for more than 60 years—and the same old blame-game always follows such incidents. The military junta accuses anti-government dissident groups and separatist ethnic rebels of responsibility. For its part, the opposition claims the junta itself orchestrated the explosions to create instability and justify a crackdown on opponents to prolong its stranglehold on power.

Some independent political analysts in Rangoon have pointed to other possible scenarios, including business rivalries, mafia disputes and an internal rift among military leaders. They say the attacks, each aimed at a different type of target, could have been launched by disparate groups with different agendas.

There is, however, one concrete theory regarding the explosion in Rangoon. Burmese military and police sources said that Nay Shwe Thway Aung, the grandson of junta chief Snr-Gen Than Shwe, was the prime target of the attack on the water festival pavilion. If that is the case, the attack failed, because Nay Shwe Thway Aung escaped while 10 innocent people were killed and 170 injured.

Despite Nay Shwe Thway Aung’s escape, the Rangoon bombing may have targeted the sons and daughters of the ruling military generals, and the other attacks appear unrelated. The four reported dead and dozen injured at the Myitsone dam construction site were Chinese workers whose only “crime” was being employed by the project’s two main contractors. There were no reported victims in the Muse bombing. And the Demawso explosion took place when a man arrested for allegedly planting a bomb in a local market detonated a device in the police station, killing himself and wounding at least four policemen.

In an ideal world, the perpetrators of these attacks would be tracked down and their violent activities ended by old-fashioned police work and modern forensic evidence. But every time an attack like this happens, the regime makes no attempt to investigate the case in an accountable manner. News is blacked-out, propaganda is parroted by the state-run press and the truth is never revealed.

This time, the junta appears to be “rounding up the usual suspects” to justify its side of the story.

“More than 10 people have been arrested in connection with the water festival bombings. But we don’t know exactly why they have been arrested,” said Bo Kyi, the joint secretary of the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners-Burma (AAPP).

According to a report by the Kachin News Group, the owner of a rubber plantation and four of his employees have been arrested in connection with the explosions at the Myitsone dam project.

And in January, the government announced the arrest of 11 people accused of planning bombings to disrupt the election. State-owned media said at the time that “terrorists” bent on derailing the polls had penetrated the country.

Whoever is responsible, there is absolutely no justification for the latest acts of terror. Bombings targeting persons and groups affiliated with the military regime achieve nothing. They go no further than to prove Burma’s endemic instability and lack of security, and the political instability cannot be used as an excuse to create further misery and bloodshed.

In addition, whether the spate of bombings was carried out by one group or separate groups with varying agendas, they all deserve further condemnation for hiding behind a cloak of anonymity. And one has to wonder: if Nay Shwe Thway Aung had been killed, would someone have had the “courage” to claim responsibility? 

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Ken Wrote:
I used to believe freedom won with violence can never be sustainable, but the situation in Burma is different. And after seeing so many years of struggles and achieving absolutely nothing, I mean how can you expect the regime to give up their powers, with the "peaceful" demonstrations, and not like the US or other countries can/will do anything about it. There need to be a revolution to free Burma. So stop bombing innocent people and just bomb the freaking generals!

Terry Evans Wrote:
Revolution is not an apple that falls when it is ripe. You have to make it fall.

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