October 19, 2017

Rakhine State affair, don’t fan the flames

  • Aye Kywe

On our march towards democracy, we had to suffer unexpectedly a very powerful blow. This was none other than the fact that some foreign media had criticized and blamed Myanmar using fabricated and false news in relation to the violent attacks that occurred in the Maungtaw region of Rakhine state, in October.
To tell the truth, this incident is not a problem which developed from normal and natural causes. The incident occurred because of causes rooted in history and one that could be called a geo-political problem. If we were to attempt to the find the root causes of this problem during a time when people are boiling with anger, we are afraid that instead of creating harmony we would be creating more hatred among the two communities. Because of this line of thinking, in trying to solve this problem, we had waited till the situation become stable and the two communities had cooled down. While praying, we waited for these two communities to solve this problem through discussions and negotiations.
Origin of this problem
As everyone knows, the problem began not as a very innocent and normal event but one that had very interesting processes and events in the past. Especially, this problem occurred in perfect timing with the UN General Assembly Third Committee meeting which was about to begin its deliberations on human rights issues. We think that they acted in this manner with the aim of drawing the world’s attention to affairs in the Rakhine state by attaching human rights and humanitarian labels to these events. To speak truthfully, the Maungtaw problem is not a normal communal problem that began between different communities in Rakhine State. It was rather a violent attack with overwhelming force on border police outposts in the areas of Kyiganpyin, Ngakhuya, Koetankauk in Maungtaw and Rathetaung regions. It was also a very ugly and disgusting act of violence in which border police in these outposts were attacked and murdered and their weapons and ammunition were taken away by force. We all believe that behind these violent attacks, there exist many different kinds of hidden aims and agendas.
Regarding these events, the Union Government is trying to respond only in accordance with the law. The Government formed a Union-level Investigation Commission headed by Vice-President (1) U Myint Swe with the task of finding out the root causes of these events and also to determine what measures need to be taken to prevent similar events from happening again in the future. All residents of Maungtaw region were provided with humanitarian assistance in the form of food and supplies. This has been seen by everyone.
Fanning the flames
At a time when the Union Government is responding to these violent attacks in accordance with the law, some foreign media agencies are trying to cause misunderstanding among the international community by using fabricated and false news. It has been found that especially the news issued by HRW (Human Rights Watch) and copied and referred by the Daily Mail in the UK, the Bangkok Post and some other foreign newspapers are very much different from the real situation. In some instances, even some UN service personnel have spoken out and acted in contravention of their code of conduct and ethical standards. They have been disseminating false news as though the security forces in this area have been burning houses of the villagers, arresting innocent villagers, torturing and killing them, and committing human rights abuses against them. To tell the truth, these violent attackers in this area have been using the villagers as cover and attacking and ambushing the security forces by using various attack tactics. If we reviewed the action taken by the security forces, it would be seen that they were only trying to discover and recover their lost weapons and ammunition; they have also tried to respond by seeking out and arresting these violent attackers and took legal action against them. To put it plainly, it is the duty of every community to root out terrorist activities and terrorists. Terrorist acts and terrorist ideology need to be rooted out from Myanmar society. Only then will we be able to solve the problems that exist among the two communities, problems which are as old as history itself. Then only can we look forward to a time of peace and friendship.
Value your professional ethics
Any person who wishes to talk about racial conflicts and religious conflicts should be aware about their emotional and sensitive nature. Especially what the media people present can have a huge impact on public opinion. Therefore, they should be more careful. Sometimes some religious and racial matters could develop into conflicts, so every media agency should understand the “conflict-sensitive” nature of such matters. Foreign media agencies especially, should understand the importance of “conflict-sensitive reporting” and act accordingly with great care. In fact, when they are about to write about these conflicts, they should not flippantly attach labels that come to mind readily. They should not complicate and deepen the conflict even further and make it more difficult to solve. They should understand this. Having a high regard for their professional ethics, we wish to say that they should henceforth refrain from flippantly putting labels and fabricated stories.
Please do not try to make profit
In this world today, each country is trying each own way to live in peace and friendship while preserving their different cultures, different traditions and religious beliefs. If conflicts arise between communities professing different religious beliefs, it has been observed that it is very difficult to solve this problem. The conflicts in Northern Ireland have given us a good lesson. With regard to this matter, the Prime Minister of UK Mr. Tony Blair had said this when he visited Myanmar on 15 November 2013, “some people have used these differences for political gain. These situations which are all complicated in the beginning were transformed into situations of grave danger and great concern. This is what has happened all over the world” with regard to people who make use of religion and race for their own ends. Recently, we saw that a leader from a neighboring country tried to use the Maungtaw affair to profit politically. This was very unexpected for us and we felt very sad about it. Myanmar is a country which tries to have friendly relations not only with neighboring countries but with all other countries of the world. Although all of us have tried our best to restrain our anger because we wish to make our long standing friendships endure, we have been hurt and devastated.
We wish to make them understand that Myanmar would never hurt ASEAN. At a time when they should have shown understanding and gathered around Myanmar and to offer assistance, they have used our country for the political gain of their own party. This is really regrettable. We even feel concern that the countries of the world would denounce and blame them. Especially because of unethical behavior and conduct unbecoming of a leader, this event would become recorded in history.
We will find the cure to the problem
At the end of the 20th century, although political extremism has been on the decline, religious and racial extremism is still alive and well. In the world today, we think that taking a position between a “close mind” and an “open mind” is getting much more complicated. Experts believe that only countries which are thriving with an “open mind” can have sustainable development. Today in Myanmar we are building the country with human values such as Freedom, Development and Prosperity. There should be no doubt that we are solving the problems within the Rakhine state in accordance with legal procedures and internationally accepted codes of conduct and behavior. We have a deep desire to solve our internal problems by ourselves in the best possible way. However, while waiting for harmonious conditions to return, tempers to cool down and mental stability achieved among the two communities, we are preparing to negotiate and seek a solution for the future.
The affairs of the Rakhine state cannot be considered as normal racial or religious conflicts but with geo-political problems which has deep roots in history. Therefore, in order to make sure that these conflicts do not grow bigger and become more difficult to solve, we are solving these problems with utmost care. We want the international community to understand and be aware of this fact.
In times like this, we want the foreign media agencies to disseminate news about Myanmar by keeping a high regard for their code of conduct and ethical behavior. We also request their help to make sure that the conflicts do not become bigger and more complicated. This is the desire of all the Myanmar people. We have very firmly committed ourselves to solve this internal problem in a peaceful manner. It is all right if you do not wish to help, however, please do not interfere and fan the flames. This is what we wish to request.
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