Burma: Regime accuses Shan people of detonating bombs without evidence

Source: The Irrawaddy.

Through the state-run press, Burmese military regime has accused this week three Shan men of responsibility for a series of simultaneous bomb blasts in the cities of Naypyidaw, Mandalay and Pyin Oo Lwin, according to The Irrawaddy, a media group managed by Burmese journalists living in exile in Thailand. “They can’t use the word ‘culprit’ because they haven’t arrested anyone yet,” said Thein Oo, the chairman of the Burma Lawyers’ Council, national focal point of Social Watch.

No one was killed in the explosions that took place on June 24, but three people were injured and a vehicle was destroyed in Mandalay, while one house was destroyed in Naypyidaw and another in Pyin Oo Lwin, reported The Irrawaddy.

Myanma Alin, the Burmese version of state-run The New Light of Myanmar, reported on Wednesday 29 that the police have not yet arrested anyone, but left no doubt who they considered the culprits.

“Sai Kyaw Myint Oo, Sai Hsam and Sai Aik rented houses and bought a cheap car without a license with the intention of detonating bombs in Naypyidaw, Mandalay and Pyin Oo Lwin simultaneously,” the newspaper said. “In doing so, they spent 4.74 million kyat [USD $5,600] on house rentals and 6 million kyat on the car [USD 7.100]. Their aim was to cause death and panic among the public. They left the car in front of a crowded Mandalay Zaycho Market apartment. They detonated the bomb then.”

The New Light of Myanmar is firmly considered by Burma watchers to be a mouthpiece of the former military junta. Since a new parliament was sworn in on March 30, little has changed in the newspaper's editorial or reporting.

The newspaper reported the accused men's names with the Shan courtesy title of “sai” (a sort of “mister), supposedly to advise its readers that the bombing was the work of Shan extremists, said The Irrawaddy.

The report was a direct insult, not only to the three men, but also their families, and their nationality, said Thein Oo speaking to The Irrawaddy on Wednesday. 

“They can’t use the word ‘culprit’ because they haven’t arrested anyone yet,” he said. “We have to recognize that nobody is guilty before they are charged by a court. The authorities must use the word ‘suspects’ for them, just as the international community is doing.”

Thein Oo also said that the accusation has political motives due to the recent surge in the conflict in northern Shan State between the Burmese government forces and the rebels.

Whenever there is an incident such as a bomb explosion in Burma, the authorities usually accuse ethnic armed groups through the state-owned media, said The Irrawaddy.