MYANMAR’S murderous army, which has tortured and persecuted almost the entire Rohingya people living in their homeland Rakhine State forcing more than a million of them to flee to Bangladesh, has lied, too, about the crisis in Myanmar Politics and the Tatmadaw: Part I, a book, published in July by the Myanmar army’s department of public relations and psychological warfare that lists Lieutenant Colonel Kyaw Kyaw Oo as the writer. The book which claims to have compiled ‘documentary photos’ to reveal ‘the history of Bengalis’ — as Myanmar prefers to call the Arakan Muslims or the Rohingya minority to imply that they are illegal immigrants — contains photographs that have been taken in Bangladesh and Tanzania and have been doctored, photographically and textually, to imply that the Rohingyas entered Myanmar from Bangladesh and murdered Myanmar’s Buddhists in Rakhine. The 117-page book contains 80 images and the provenance of three of them is found to be faked, as New Age reported on Saturday, while the provenance of five others could not be immediately established. Such blatant lies in a book published by the Myanmar army are both odious and atrocious.
One of the photographs, intended to depict Rohingyas killing ethnic minority in Rakhine, was actually taken during Bangladesh’s 1971 independence war. Another, purported to show the Rohingyas entering Myanmar during the colonial era, was a distorted version of an image of refugees fleeing the genocide in Rwanda in 1996. The third showing men aboard a rickety boat, labelled as depicting the Rohingyas entering Myanmar from Bangladesh, was actually the photograph of the Rohingyas leaving Myanmar in 2015 when tens of thousands fled for Thailand and Malaysia. Much of the content of the book is sourced to the Myanmar military’s True News information unit and the last photograph in question was sourced from Myanmar’s information ministry. While the Myanmar authorities employed various tactics to deflect international pressure for the repatriation of Rohingyas, they have now come to manufacture documentary evidence by lying about the crisis to the same end. Myanmar, which has signed several agreements with Bangladesh on the repatriation of the Rohingyas — more than 1 million in all, with 4,00,000 already having lived in Bangladesh since the late 1970s— has not as yet taken back a single of the Rohingyas. The Rohingya influx, caused by an ongoing persecution by Myanmar’s military, into Bangladesh is still reported to be taking place on a small scale. Yet, Myanmar’s state counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi in November 2017 said that they were ready to begin the repatriation and it was Bangladesh which was delaying the process. Suu Kyi is reported to have termed in September that year the news on the violence by its security forces against the Rohingyas ‘fake’.
These are all but ploys that Myanmar employs to deflect international pressure for a safe, sustainable, voluntary repatriation of the Rohingyas pushed out into Bangladesh. Dhaka, in such a situation, must step up to the plate and lead its diplomatic efforts, bilateral, regional and international, to force Myanmar to take back all of the Rohingyas now sheltered in Bangladesh.
Want stories like this in your inbox?
Sign up to exclusive daily email
More Stories from Editorial