Media must ensure accuracy, protect sentiment
- Repatriation and resettlement are important responsibilities for committees working to resolve the Rakhine issue, which has continued for years and is related to Myanmar’s politics and security.
The first group of over 2,260 displaced people are to be accepted back, 150 persons per day, beginning 15 November. We have been preparing to receive them since January 23.
Ten days ahead of the repatriation, the Daily Star newspaper published an article in which a spokesperson from the Bangladesh Border Guard Police claimed that shots were fired 17 times from a police outpost near the Myanmar-Bangladesh border and as a result, a fifteen-year-old cowherd named Narul Islam suffered injuries to his elbow.
At a time when Myanmar is getting ready to accept the returnees, such incorrect reporting has caused anxiety among communities, and harmed Myanmar’s image and the performance of the country’s leaders, who have been constructively and systematically working on the repatriation.
The credibility of the media is lost when it fails to seek the truth and ensure accuracy in reporting. Journalism is the only branch of information designed to help citizens in a democracy.
We are particularly concerned that such actions may cause misunderstandings and delay in the repatriation of verified returnees to Myanmar, which is due to commence very soon.
We strongly denounce the distorted report which deviated from international media ethics, and fanned a sensitive issue for the country.
On the ground, the Myanmar Border Police have not received any complaint related to such an incident, nor have the Bangladesh side attempted to call a Flag Meeting the following day to discuss the issue, which would have been the normal course of action to take.
At the date and time of the alleged incident, Myanmar and Bangladesh were conducting coordinated patrols along the Naf River to ensure border security and stability. There were no reports of a shooting lodged by Bangladesh officials engaged in the coordinated exercise.
Myanmar is conscious of the friendly relations between the two countries and will, in good faith, implement the bilateral agreement for the return of displaced persons from Rakhine, ensuring their safe, voluntary, and dignified return.
The media must take responsibility for incorrect and inaccurate information, and correct facts and figures as soon as possible.
Professional media and social media must avoid provoking any sensitive issues, which can derail friendship between countries and disrupt stability and peace.