International Campaign for Freedom of Aung San Suu Kyi and Burma


Monday, October 21, 2013

Weekly Highlights: "Cool Heads" Needed as Bombings Tear Through Burma

 

14-20 October 2013

 

Weekly Highlights

"Cool Heads" Needed as Bombings Tear Through Burma

A string of bombings around Burma have rocked the country, killing three and injuring at least 10 people. Arrests were made on 18 October, with police stating that those behind these attacks were Karen businessmen trying to deter foreign investment in resource rich Karen State. Despite this, there is still much debate as to the true perpetrators and their motives.

On 11 October, the first serious explosion occurred in Taungoo, Pegu Division, killing two. On 13 October, two bombs exploded in northern Rangoon, causing damage but injuring no one. Further explosive devices were found in restaurants in Rangoon and Mandalay on 14 October which were detonated in controlled explosions by the police. Later in the same evening, a bomb exploded in a room of Rangoon's Traders Hotel, injuring an American woman. Traders Hotel is one of the best known and upmarket hotels in the country, and is popular with both foreign and domestic tourists. On the night of 16 October and the morning of 17 October, three bombs more were detonated in Namhkam, Shan State, killing one person and injuring several more.

Authorities arrested Saw Myint Lwin, a former Karen National Union (KNU) member, although it is important to note that ethnic non-state armed groups, particularly the KNU, have distanced themselves from this violence and pledged to support the investigation. Mahn Nyein Maung, Central Executive Committee Member of the KNU stated, "This was not a plan by our leadership – we will carry out investigations to find out whether our members were involved and take necessary actions if they were – we will not allow any harm to our peace process." This statement is significant as in the past, the military regime is widely believed to have instigated such bombing attacks, and used the instability to justify further repression of ethnic opposition and political dissidents by pinning the blame on them without any transparent investigation. The military regime has also targeted human rights activists, such as Myint Aye, the leader of Human Rights Defenders and Promoters, accusing him of planning to plant a bomb in Shwe Pyi Thar Township, Rangoon, in 2008.

At a press conference on 18 October, the Director-General of Burma's Police Force, Zaw Win announced the arrest of eight suspects and outlined their motivation, "According to our investigation, there is clear evidence that this was an attempt to deter foreign investment in the country." The main suspect, however, was not among those arrested and he has been identified as Nay Toe, who manages a business owned by the KNU, thus adding further unanswered questions over why this has happened.

Burma's transition is in a state of flux, and these bombings highlight the fragility of politics in Burma today. In the context of the upcoming Southeast Asian Games, Burma taking the ASEAN chairmanship next year, the possible signing of a controversial nationwide ceasefire next month, and discussions throughout the country of amending the 2008 Constitution, the country is at a vulnerable stage. Amidst the confusion, it is Daw Aung San Suu Kyi's words that resonate, "The public may be worried, but I believe that our people know how to keep a cool head. These [bombings] are deliberate attempts to cause public panic and it is important for people not to fall into the trap." Cool heads and not falling in to the trap of the blame game are indeed essential right now.

News Highlights

 

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi departs on third trip to Europe

 

Inside Burma

MPs to submit a draft law on media monitoring of court trials to parliament this week

Palaung State Liberation Front meets with the Myanmar Peace Centre's technical team in the Chinese city of Shwel to build trust

Karenni National Progressive Party will not sign the government's nationwide ceasefire unless there are guarantees for real political dialogue

Burma Army forces the New Mon State Party to evacuate a second base in Thanbyuzayat Township, Mon State

Township court sentences two community leaders in Sittwe, Arakan State, to three months in jail for protesting without permission against the government's plan to build permanent houses for Muslim internally displaced people

Assistance Association for Political Prisoners says the number of political prisoners rose last month, with 33 put behind bars and more than 200 others are facing trials

 

Regional

Thai authorities recover the bodies of 10 migrant workers from Burma after their boat sinks

Over 2,000 migrant workers from Burma based in Mahachai, Thailand, have filed workplace complaints in the last year

Japan to provide US$470,799 to help build eight more basic education schools in three regions and states

 

International

 

UK Ambassador Andrew Patrick defends Britain's plan to provide training to the Burma Army

 

Opinion

Only One Side of the Story of Reform in Burma
By Khin Ohmar
The Irrawaddy

Listen To Us – Stop Ignoring Our Concerns
By Zoya Phan
Karen News

Echoes of Indonesia in Myanmar Transition
By Tom Farrell
Asia Times

Latest from the Blog

 

Where is the Benefit for the People of Burma?
By Burma Partnership

 

Actions

Villagers in Salingyi Township continue to protest against the Letpadaung Copper Mine

150 villagers in Ma-ubin Township protest against the government's auctioning off of local fishing ponds to private operators in Irrawaddy Region

Statements and Press Releases

133 Ethnic Civil Society Organizations Express Concern and Reservation Regarding Foreign Military Engagement with the Burmese Military
By 133 Ethnic Civil Society Organizations

Burma: Joint Letter from Ethnic Nationalities Civil Society Organizations Regarding Foreign Military Engagement with the Burmese Military
By 133 Ethnic Civil Society Organizations

Aung San Suu Kyi and EU Parliament Urged to Place Human Rights, Anti-Muslim Violence at the Top of the Agenda of European Visit
By ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights

Invisible Enemies: A Video to Respond to the Landmine Threat in Burma/Myanmar
By Geneva Call

EU-Myanmar: Embrace Civil Society!
By Swedish Burma Committee

Reports

Using Video to Support Democracy in Myanmar
By EngageMedia

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As Daw Aung San Suu Kyi proclaimed,

As Daw Aung San Suu Kyi proclaimed,
"Justice is a dream. But it is a dream we are determined to realize."