Several bombs went off in Rangoon today, killing at least nine and injuring dozens more during the country’s New Year festival. As Mother Jones readers know, bombs go off all the time in Burma; it’s just that usually they’re land mines, and government-planted, and in rural areas. But though they rarely make it into Western newspapers, blasts in the capital aren’t uncommon either. No one has claimed responsibility, but the junta generally blames ethnic insurgents. For the record, civil dissent is so widespread among so much of the population that the perpetrators could just as easily be members of the ethnic majority, whose discontent continues to grow as it becomes ever clearer that the upcoming elections are a farce. But in defense of the regime’s blaming armed minority rebel groups, there are plenty of them—Karen, Mon, Shan, Kachin, Wa, Kokang—with whom there are also escalating tensions. By way of explanation, allow me to quote from my own brilliant explanation:
Burma’s dystopia breeds new [insurgents] who are looking for revenge or purpose every day. And not just in the hills; small bombs planted by unknown groups have started going off in Rangoon. Everyone in the world knows what some people will inevitably choose given the choice between battling for liberty and rolling over and dying. In the face of the demand to make their inactive militia part of the murderous Burma army’s border force, the Mon have said no, and that, further, if they are asked to disarm, they “will do something.” The Kachin who’ve been in a cease-fire since 1994, also said no, and are now actively recruiting. The still terrifying and now druglording Wa’s twenty-thousand-strong army is refusing to submit to anyone’s authority. To prove it, just in case someone wants to make them try, they are preparing for war. And the Kokang broke a two-decade truce with a firefight that sent thousands fleeing across the border into China.
And shit continues to get iller. At the very least, expect more protests, violent or otherwise; at worst, the country could be ripped apart by spreading civil war. Don’t be surprised to see more headlines, and headlines like this, from Burma this year.
Update: The target of the bombs was a festival pavilion sponsored by Than Shwe’s favorite grandson. Who’s Than Shwe? This guy.