Today’s Terrorism in Burma

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.

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.



Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend