Covering the Rohingya: Separating fact from fiction – The Listening Post (Lead)



According to the latest figures, there are nearly 400,000 Muslim-majority Rohingya that have been forced from their homes in Myanmar.

The UN says it looks like a “textbook example” of ethnic cleansing. The country’s leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, has been widely condemned for lack of moral leadership and compassion in the face of the crisis, denting the Nobel Peace Prize laureate’s reputation.

However, the story is not just about Aung San Suu Kyi. It is primarily about the Myanmar military, the flames and bullets it has used to dispossess the Rohingya and chase them from the country. And it’s about a government information campaign that reeks of propaganda.

“A huge amount of the media focus has been on Aung San Suu Kyi and almost all of it has been condemnatory … but she’s not the one carrying out the ethnic cleansing,” says Mark Farmaner, executive director of Burma Campaign UK. “It’s Min Aung Hlaing, the head of the military. He’s not even being referred to in any of this media coverage.”

The Myanmar constitution limits the powers of its civilian government. Aung San Suu Kyi and her ministers do not have authority over the military, which surrendered absolute power less than three years ago, after more than a half-century of military rule.

But Aung San Suu Kyi does have the power to criticise. And she has not criticised the forced eviction of hundreds of thousands of Muslim Rohingya, nor the military’s burning of Rohingya villages to the ground, nor questioned the role of the military.

Instead, Aung San Suu Kyi and her government have criticised the international news media and the UN workers documenting the Rohingya refugee story – dismissing their reports as fake news.

“Dismissal and denial of well-documented accusations, allegations and evidence is part of genocide. Dismissing the reports of hundreds of women who have been wronged and violated and Suu Kyi dismissing them as fake news, fake rape. That was what you read on Aung San Suu Kyi’s official Facebook page: fake rape,” says Maung Zarni, a Burmese human rights activists.

The state is feeding the domestic news media the same narrative and it’s being reinforced online. And while the relatively recent opening of Myanmar’s media and internet space has empowered new voices, it’s also provided Buddhist nationalists with new platforms to dispense fear and hatred of the Rohingya.

Back in the days of military rule, journalists from Myanmar fought hard for their freedoms. Some set up news outlets in exile. A news magazine called Irrawaddy based itself just across the border in Thailand, pushing a pro-democracy agenda.

The magazine now operates out of Yangon and – like most of the domestic news media – has adopted the government’s position on the Rohingya story. Its English-language site refuses to call Rohingya citizens of Myanmar. It calls them Bengalis instead.

The magazine’s editor, Aung Zaw, was interviewed on CNN earlier this month. His line on the Rohingya is in perfect harmony with the state’s, that they do not belong to Burma. In 2014, Zaw and his magazine were lauded by the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists for coverage of Myanmar that the CPJ called “authoritative and independent”.

“The media organisations that were based in exile were much more professional, were much more balanced in their reporting. But now, even some of them are toeing the government line. It’s very worrying for the whole future of press freedom, and where people in Burma get their information,” says Farmaner.

Contributors:

Maung Zarni – adviser, European Centre for the Study of Extremism and Burmese human rights activist
Oliver Slow – chief of staff, Frontier Myanmar
Mark Farmaner – executive director, Burma Campaign UK

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31 thoughts on “Covering the Rohingya: Separating fact from fiction – The Listening Post (Lead)

  1. Juliet Tun November 27, 2017 at 7:47 pm

    Myanmar is supposed to be wealthy and powerful. There is a President and two Vice Presidents. The military government is kind. Myanmar is a military democracy. Aung San Suu Kyi is messing up Myanmar by genociding Rohingya. I think she should have foreign minister job. She should not have other jobs. She is married to an English man. English invaded Myanmar. Maybe she is part Japanese. Rohingya are like Shan. They are Myanmar people. I think the President should be a politician. I think a Vice President should be a politician and a Vice President should be a person in the House of Military. I think Myanma, Burmese and Shan should be President and Vice Presidents.

  2. Bun Bun November 27, 2017 at 7:47 pm

    Even our own eyes can deceive us sometimes..

  3. Anurag Nath November 27, 2017 at 7:47 pm

    Jihadi channel

  4. Naz Nazia November 27, 2017 at 7:47 pm

    Bangladesh..pls invade and take over Burma..fill it with bangladeshis

  5. Jamesh H November 27, 2017 at 7:47 pm

    Bangladeshi should be deported back to Bangladesh and Burmese should stay in Burma, Period!

  6. Charm Nyi November 27, 2017 at 7:47 pm

    Fake news!

  7. Sakinah Hur November 27, 2017 at 7:47 pm

    Peace be unto you…

    Revoke her peace prize…
    She sells out people for her own luxurious lifestyle…
    Trader and imposter of Buddhism…

    With Peace Sakinah 🌹

  8. Muyo king 2030 November 27, 2017 at 7:47 pm

    This women is the biggest terrorist in the world

  9. R.SANJAY GREGORY WILLIAMS November 27, 2017 at 7:47 pm

    Qatar should take all in and make them live like kings with petro dollars.

  10. street parade November 27, 2017 at 7:47 pm

    Al Jazeera = Fake News. Even your fellow Arabs denounce Qatar as terrorist supporters.

  11. ulaw ritaaung November 27, 2017 at 7:47 pm

    over population problem

  12. Alia BinMazhar November 27, 2017 at 7:47 pm

    Buddist peace no more

  13. Pesare Adam November 27, 2017 at 7:47 pm

    this women must go on trial as war criminal

  14. Asim Yousuf November 27, 2017 at 7:47 pm

    The Nobel Peace Prize is a joke.

  15. martin newell November 27, 2017 at 7:47 pm

    I am not going to be a sheep in this crisis.

  16. Wasem Anam November 27, 2017 at 7:47 pm

    So many retards in this world. I have been watching over all those comments. Feeling minority as a human being in this world. I wish aliens (if there's any) would attack our world so brutally so that we could get rid of thinking border, race, religion, geopolitics along with being inhuman.
    Or rather I wish like Adam Stone says
    How many Divine Punishments am I going to have to bring down upon these genocidal Islamophobic maniacs?

  17. Maria November 27, 2017 at 7:47 pm

    How sad that buddhism the once the only remaining religion of peace & spirituality is now wholeheartedly embracing ethnic cleansing and pure hate!!I am appalled by those in the comment section justifying their actions as a scorned woman who's out for 'revenge'!!!wtf are you serious?!Even is Suu chi doesn't have power over the military her total silence and not questioning the killings is enough to encourage the killings..

  18. Yeap Soon November 27, 2017 at 7:47 pm

    Please ask the UN what they have done ever sincè this issue came to light.

  19. Claucius Fello November 27, 2017 at 7:47 pm

    The world is facong a serious issue these days- Undeserving hypocrite rulers of countries

    India- Narendra Modi
    USA – Donald Trump
    Myanmar- Aung Syu Kii
    Saudi Arabia – Prince Mohammed bin Salman
    Egypt – El Sisi

  20. imran ikbal November 27, 2017 at 7:47 pm

    shes the main culprit. shes the devil

  21. Truther Asitis November 27, 2017 at 7:47 pm

    BOUGHT AND PAYED BY ISRAHELL AND JEWMERICA

  22. 1275783508 Thanga November 27, 2017 at 7:47 pm

    Zarni consistently getting money from Rohingya groups. I know him well in Oslo. We almost got into physical fight.

  23. Fahim anzum jim November 27, 2017 at 7:47 pm

    Justice needed !! Not only for 1 or 100 people but also for 600000+ among children..

  24. Deepak James November 27, 2017 at 7:47 pm

    After there complete failure in Sirya. Aljazeera back with new Islamic propaganda but with support of big power's like China and India . Mayanmar is totally safe there vested interest will totally protect Mayanmar.

  25. rafi md November 27, 2017 at 7:47 pm

    You are awesome 5.36 that's called journalism.

  26. Tanjil's tip'sTM. November 27, 2017 at 7:47 pm

    If worlds powerful nation don't solve this rohiga problem,if rohingas never taken back to meanmar, global terrorism will rise up within a short time,powerful nations of the world should come forward to solve this problem,by taking them back to their home creating a safe zone for them,don't listen to myanmars govt they are great liar,rohingas citizens ofm mayanmar…

  27. Justin Wahid November 27, 2017 at 7:47 pm

    I report this video as promoting terrorist I gave a reason Try to make regime change, with fake news and propaganda

  28. Yeo Wool November 27, 2017 at 7:47 pm

    Al Jazeera STOP being biased ask your country Qatar who is reach to help Rohingya okay

  29. SaZi Ansar November 27, 2017 at 7:47 pm

    .P.s. Its only Humans in this world even above angels who are allowed to rejoice their free will , almost 70 % of impoverished Uneducated Humans are blank minded which is why few monsters take the advantage , instead of being put behind bars are let OUT free into open leading them towards derailing the peace being of society , INSTEAD OF ADVICING THEM TOWARDS PROGRESSION OF THEIR LIFE and most seriously of all is GENERATING THE FLOW OF A MINDSET OF HATRED THROUGH BREAKING THEIR SENTIMENTS , HENCE PROPAGATION OF NEVER ENDING PEACE AND VIOLENCE.' EACH INDIVIDUAL IN THE SOCIETY MUST THINK TOWARDS THE PROGRESSION OF THEIR LIFE AND FAMILY + SOCIETY, THAN THAT OF US FOOLISHLY BECOMING THE SERVANT OF A MONSTER WHO PRETENDS TO BE GOD.''

  30. SaZi Ansar November 27, 2017 at 7:47 pm

    Its so weird that larger mass of ppl of every country or state are made to live uneducated , illeterate , poor and manipulate them for generations levaraging from their built goofy nature , where as always some monster leaders are so sharp to gain power momentarily and create violence , govt at last stands mum , eyerolling of the avoidable massacres and genocides that occur in the society , biddhist monk like the one in here should be chopped up right away , unlight any leader in the world who is motivated into creating hatred by his ill wishes just to quench his wish over something that can be very well dealt with peace . Ironically the greatly educated and literate lot who could change these scenarious with unity rejoices their luxuries wondering as if they were not a human of this world. I think there should be a massive media campaign into boycotting all leaders around world, either it be chosen by a party or in any form, be boycotted ever of trying to create hatred amongst the humans , A white collar leaders should take a lead against such movements, Peroid

  31. SaZi Ansar November 27, 2017 at 7:47 pm

    .P.s. Its only Humans in this world even above angels who are allowed to rejoice their free will , almost 70 % of impoverished Uneducated Humans are blank minded which is why few monsters take the advantage , instead of being put behind bars are let OUT free into open leading them towards derailing the peace being of society , INSTEAD OF ADVICING THEM TOWARDS PROGRESSION OF THEIR LIFE and most seriously of all is GENERATING THE FLOW OF A MINDSET OF HATRED THROUGH BREAKING THEIR SENTIMENTS , HENCE PROPAGATION OF NEVER ENDING PEACE AND VIOLENCE.' EACH INDIVIDUAL IN THE SOCIETY MUST THINK TOWARDS THE PROGRESSION OF THEIR LIFE AND FAMILY + SOCIETY, THAN THAT OF US FOOLISHLY BECOMING THE SERVANT OF A MONSTER WHO PRETENDS TO BE GOD.''

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