- Khin Maung Myint
Khin Maung Myint
At a time, even when the heads of states, such as the presidents, the prime ministers, and the responsible government officials around the world have no scruples, whatsoever, about faking news themselves or directing their staffs to do so, it’s no wonder the fake news are becoming rampant. In certain countries, fabricating or faking of news have become a lucrative business.
The fake news are everywhere. They can be seen in the business competition, in the political lobbying, in diplomatic wrangling, as military strategy, in the arms race, even in the election campaigns and in various other uses as many as you can imagine. Though they may vary in nature, their main objectives are the same—to achieve their own gains by deceits—which are unethical. The fake news had even become the key player in deciding who is elected and who is not, in major election, even in a certain very developed country.
Our country too is being severely attacked with the fake news and the false propagandas. It wouldn’t be far from the truth if I say that our country is the hardest hit victim of fake news and false accusations lately. The fake news managed to convince gullible and naive people around the world, including the most responsible persons of certain authoritative world organizations and countries. They are accusing our country of committing genocides, ethnic cleansing, and crimes against humanity, without any concrete proof. Their accusations are completely contrary to the real situations that are actually happening on ground. In reality it was the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army, or the (ARSA) terrorists and their handlers from abroad, who are the ones committing the arsons and massacring. They are killing even their own kind, who they suspect of collaborating with the authorities.
I had been aware that the spreading of the false and faked news were in vogue and were gathering momentum since after the incidents that took place in 2012 in Northern Rakhine. The social media provided them a very convenient tool to spread false and fabricated informations about the plights of the so-called Rohingyas. The Internet websites, such as the #Rohingya, the #Arakan and the #Rakhine are flooded with misinformations and faked photos posted by people around the world who blindly support the ARSA, without knowing the truths or are intentionally ignoring them. Some very well known international media groups are also lending them a hand in promulgating fake news in the print, as well as on the broadcast media.
The term Rohingya emerged around the late 1960s. However, it was not widespread as now and not many people outside of the Rakhine State had ever heard of that name before. Even in Rakhine, only a handful of people knew about their presence in those days. The self-identified term was linked to an underground movement group called the “Rohingya Muslim Independence Revolutionary Front (RMIRF)”, which was uncovered, apprehended and jailed, but that news wasn’t publicized much in those days. However, the extensive propagandas after the 2012 incident made that name to become world-renown. The propagandas were done through the spreading of false and faked news on the social media and also with the help of some well established international media.
They claimed that as their ancestors had dwelt in the Rakhine State since many centuries ago and thus they are an ethnic national race of Burma. That was a false claim and didn’t have any historical record to support it. In reality the people who migrated from the East Bengal of India many centuries ago were never known or recorded as that term, but only as Bengali. When that tactics failed, they claimed they are discriminated, harassed and persecuted and accused that they are being unfairly denied citizenships. All of their accusations are false. They are in fact present day illegal migrants, who are not entitled to be granted citizenships, let alone to be recognized as an ethnic race. The genuine descendants of those who were granted citizenships since the British annexation of Rakhine in 1824 were entitled and were being recognized as citizens, down many generations until today. After the latest clashes, in which the ARSA terrorists were the real perpetrators who committed the atrocities of massacring, arsons and laying of the anti-personnel mines, some leaders including the UN chief, UN human rights chief, the Bangladeshi Prime Minister, and some leaders from the West falsely accused our country, using harshest terms, such as genocides, atrocities and crimes against humanity, which are totally unfounded. I’m sure their accusations were based on the fake news from the well known international media that are one-sidedly advocating for the ARSA terrorists.
The latest reports of the number of people who were supposed to have fled to Bangladesh, too were also very doubtful. In my opinion they were being inflated intentionally. Though all military operations had ceased as of 5 September, they claimed that refugees continued to flood into their country. That couldn’t be true.
One day the report said about 270,000 refugees had arrived there, but the next day the number shot up to over 400,000. That meant over 130,000 people arrived there in the next 24 hours. I am very familiar with that place where the fleeing people made the river-crossing and had some experience repatriating illegal migrants across that river in 1969. Judging from the photos and video clips in which only a few people were seen crossing the river and based on my own experience, I know for sure that over a hundred thousand people, including elderlies, disabled, children and pregnant women couldn’t have made it within a matter of 24 hours. That was absolutely impossible.
These fake news are being intentionally spread for various reasons, but the main reason is to discredit our country and at the same time rally the support of the UN to pressure us into receiving back those who fled there. In the mid 1970s, our country was bullied to take back double the number of what were actually expelled or fled from our country.
I can go on writing about the fake news endlessly, but I think I had made my point that they had done much damage to our country. Because of them we are being condemned, criticized, ridiculed and pressured, or to put it bluntly, we are unfairly being bullied.
I had never thought that the world community could be so gullible to believe the groundless faked news. If this trend should continue it would be very difficult to believe any individual, organization, country or the international media in the future.
(Khin Maung Myint (U) served as the secretary of the Sittway District Security and Administrative Committee in Sittway, from 1968 to early 1970).