Rohingya refugees waiting for rations at a camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. FILE PIC

I WAS deeply disturbed by an article published in an international daily recently, in which it was reported that what the Rohingya people suffered were real horrors, yet some of the stories told were untrue.

While everyone looks with disdain at the barbaric act of Myanmar, a member of Asean, against the Rohingya, the author narrates Myanmar’s military version, that what is happening in Rakhine State is not ethnic cleansing and the Rohingya are lying. The article could create doubts that might shift attention from the real issue of genocide to trivial ones, which are magnified to give a distorted picture to the international community.

It seems to me that the writer deliberately chose to highlight trivial issues when the resignation of Bill Richardson from the Myanmar advisory committee on the Rohingya crisis and Foster Klug’s report by AP News on the discovery of five mass graves in Gudar Pyin required urgent international attention.

Richardson had accused the committee of trying to whitewash the Rohingya crisis. This is a serious accusation.

During my visit to genocide survivors’ camps in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, with The European Rohingya Council chairman Dr Hla Kyaw to organise a mobile clinic, I still remember a woman who claimed to be a Rohingya.

She tried to gain sympathy by telling sad stories of her missing husband and her child, who hadn’t eaten for days.

When the woman left, Dr Kyaw said: “She’s not a Rohingya, but a Bangladeshi, who is poor and has a difficult life. Her dialect is identical to the Rohingya, but some of the words uttered are not used by the Rohingya.”

In the race for survival, occasional stories like this do happen in Cox’s Bazar, like any other part in the world. We should not play the blame game and point fingers. We must focus on the more than 688,000 Rohingya refugees who survived Myanmar’s genocide campaign and are forced to flee their homeland, crossing treacherous currents and inhospitable terrains.

I feel that the article strengthens the narrative that Myanmar wants to wipe out the Rohingya from Rakhine State so that they can monopolise the rich natural resources.

Matters like this should be given attention by professional investigative journalists to prevent the continued persecution by Myanmar against the Rohingya.

The skewed reporting reminds me of the negative stories by irresponsible Netizens that went viral on social media, such as Facebook. They copy and paste stories without checking the facts, and those who troll social media regularly believe the tales.

The only way to solve the refugee problem is not to create refugees and to bring the perpetrators to justice.

Let us hold hands in helping to alleviate the plight of Rohingya.


Ambassador to Malaysia, The European Rohingya Council

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