Myanmar police have issued a vague description of a person suspected of throwing a petrol bomb at the house of the country’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who was not injured in the Thursday morning attack.
They describe the suspect as being about 40 years old and five feet, five inches tall, and having brown skin.
At the time of the attack, Aung San Suu Kyi, who holds the titles of state counselor and foreign affairs minister, was 380 kilometers (236 miles) away in the capital Naypyidaw, where she was scheduled to deliver a speech to parliament to mark the second anniversary of the National League for Democracy (NLD) party coming to power.
“We don’t know who did it, but the police have been checking and investigating [the incident] at her house,” said Myo Nyunt, a member of the NLD’s Central Executive Committee. “It is important to have tight security [there] with more security guards.”
Aung Moe Zaw, Chairman of the Democratic Party for a New Society (DPNS), surmised that the erratic economy and unrest in certain parts of the country such as volatile Rakhine state may have prompted someone to throw the Molotov cocktail at the state counselor’s residence in Yangon.
“We can say that the economic and social situations are not stable,” he told RFA’s Myanmar Service. “If people dare to throw a petrol bomb at Daw [honorific] Aung San Suu Kyi’s house, there will be greater concern about security among ordinary citizens.”
“There are political attacks on Aung San Suu Kyi and the NLD government these days related to the Rakhine and Mrauk U problems,” he said, referring to the ethnically and religiously divided state in western Myanmar.
Volatile Rakhine is still reeling from a military crackdown against Rohingya Muslims in its three northern townships that has driven an estimated 688,000 members of the minority group to neighboring Bangladesh since August 2017.
Aung San Suu Kyi has come under fire mainly from the international community for what is perceived to be her inaction regarding the Rohingya crisis, which the United Nations and United States have said amounts to ethnic cleansing.
Rakhine saw more unrest in January when police shot dead seven ethnic Rakhine protesters and wounded a dozen others in the ancient town of Mrauk U. Thousands of members of the minority group marking a nationalist Buddhist anniversary had converged on a government office there when authorities attempted to stop the event.
Security ‘in chaos’
Security in Myanmar is “in chaos” and is an issue that concerns everyone, especially given “ungentlemanlike political attacks," Aung Thein, an upper house member of parliament, told RFA.
Writer Kyaw Win said everyone is unsafe in Myanmar because of a lack of the rule of law.
“Everybody should be very concerned about safety,” he said, recalling the assassination of Muslim lawyer Ko Ni, an advisor to Aung San Suu Kyi who was gunned down at Yangon’s international airport about a year ago.
“We also have had tensions after the Rakhine problems and robberies everywhere around the country,” Kyaw Win said. “The safety of all people should be taken care of by government departments, ministries, and agencies that dead with security.
Despite the attack on her residence, Aung San Suu Kyi told lawmakers in Naypyidaw that seeing the opposition as an enemy is not part of a democratic mindset and that creating unity based on differences is true democracy.
Her words come as the government prepares to hold a third round of national peace talks later this month, aimed at ending decades of civil wars between various ethnic armed groups and the national army.
The ethnic militias want a federated state in which they coexist as equals with the ethnic Burman majority.
Aung San Suu Kyi, who is spearheading the 21st-Century Panglong Peace Conference, sees an end to internal hostilities as key to forging nationwide peace and facilitating political dialogue to advance the country’s developing democracy.
Reported by Zarni Htun, Thinn Thiri, and Win Ko Ko Latt for RFA’s Myanmar Service. Translated by Khet Mar. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.