Fri 18 Oct 2013
Filed under: Inside Burma,News
A well-organized group must be behind the mysterious string of bombings across the country, including those in Nampt Kham Township, Northern Shan State on Wednesday and Thursday, analysts say.
In recent days, bomb blasts have occurred in Yangon, Mandalay and Sagaing regions and unexploded bombs have been found in those regions after another bombing occurred in Taungoo Township, Bago region. The Taungoo blast killed a policeman and a municipal employee, while the bombing in Nampt Kham Township left a third person dead.
With no idea where the bombers might strike next, people are worried and are desperate for police to find the culprits.
Eleven Media approached experts from social and political fields, including ethnic organizations, for their thoughts on who might be responsible for the bombings. Analysts were asked whether the bombing cases may be connected to an ethnic armed group such as the KNU (one bombing suspect has told police he was associated with the KNU), Muslim terrorists angry about events in Rakhine State, those who disagree with the political reform process in Myanmar, or interests connected to another, more powerful country.
Eleven Media contacted KNU headquarters to ask whether or not the bomb blasts were committed by ethnic armed groups, including the KNU.
“We have appreciated the peace talks to help put the local peace process back on track. That’s why the people have warmly welcomed us. The peace talks and peace implementation are ongoing processes. We believe that there is no one in the KNU who would knowingly hinder the peace processes. Moreover, I assume that no KNU member could freely and easily reach the bomb hit areas in Yangon or the other few places. Each and every person in the KNU has to inform their superiors if they wish to go out,” said Padothaw ThiBwe, Joint-Secretary 1 of KNU, adding that the bomb-hit areas were not freely and easily visited by KNU members.
Lt-Col Tar Phone Kyaw, general secretary of the Ta-aung National Liberation Army (TNLA), which has yet to sign a ceasefire agreement with the government, says that ethnic armed groups oppose planting bombs in crowded public areas.
“All the ethnic national races are looking forward to the peace talks. The bombing incidents shouldn’t happen in Myanmar. It is very difficult to think what the cause for these kinds of incidents is. Because of these unpleasant happenings, we are worried that a racial or religious uprising might occur,” Tar Phone Kyaw said.
Thingungyun Township MP Thein Nyunt agrees it is unlikely that anyone directly involved in the peace talks would undermine the process in this way.
“To achieve a nationwide ceasefire agreement, all the legal groups are working with all their might. At the same time, people or groups with different ideas might be willing to destroy the peace process for their own benefit. That’s why internal and external forces who don’t want to see Myanmar prosper might be joining efforts and planting these bombs to scare the people,” he said.
Col. Saw Lwin, joint secretary (1) of the Kayan Pyithit Party, or Kayan New Land Party, sees nothing suspicious about the fact the bombings have coincided with the National League for Democracy’s public consultations on whether to amend or replace the 2008 Constitution.
“We doubt that these acts are being committed by those don’t want to change the 2008 National Constitution, or by those who have benefitted a lot under the 2008 National Constitution,” he said. “If people say they don’t want to change the 2008 National Constitution, then the entire public already knows who they are.”
Myint Aung, of the Former Political Prisoners’ Federation, says it’s still too early to say who is responsible for the bombings. He does, however, see a connection with the NLD’s public consultations on the constitution.
“These things happened at the same time. Changing the National Constitution is a major milestone for this country. Those who planned the bombings are threatening to destabilize the country. In the mean time, the rule of law and the security of the entire nation are vulnerable. The bomb planting and explosions were systematic acts, I think. I assume that they are being carried out by a strong organization with systematic methods.”
Aye Thar Aung, of the Rakhine Democracy League, agrees. He told Eleven Media that, while bombings have occurred at many different periods in Myanmar’s history, he does not recall the blasts being so continuous and geographically spread out. This has led him to believe that the explosions are connected to politics.
“They’re happening at the same time that some political parties are urging the entire public to amend the National Constitution. Not only the political parties but also the public are talking about amending the National Constitution. So it is very hard to say that these bombings were just a coincidence,” he said. “In my opinion, there may be some kind of political tricks or political connections in it. But we don’t have any proof. The Government previously accused the KNU and some other ethnic organizations. However, those arrested also claimed that it was the work of certain groups. It is very difficult to accept both [explanations].”
Khin Maung Nyo, a judge advocate of Pyinmana, rejects the notion that the bombings are connected to Muslim terrorists or Western nations.
“There are no Muslim terrorists in Myanmar,” he said. “If we look at the recent explosions, one can see that the process of carrying them out looked very easy. In my opinion, it is connected with the amending of the National Constitution. Those who don’t want to change the National Constitution and those want to go back down the old road are inciting fear among the public through these bomb blasts and communal violence. They are making people so worried that they will want to go back to the previous military regime.”
Numerous explosions occurred in Myanmar after the military coup in September 1988. But there were so many incidents that the government could not arrest those who planted the bombs. The recent explosions are the first continuous bombings in the country since 2005.