Rakhine strife misreported
Thomas Fuller of the New York Times wrote a news article from Thailand entitled "Crisis in Myanmar Over Buddhist-Muslim Clash". His article triggered a series of religious riots. He also mentioned that "the Eleven Media Group, a publisher of one of the country's leading weekly newspapers, displayed a string of hateful comments about Muslims from readers". His next article was headlined "Internet Unshackled, Burmese Aim Venom at Ethnic Minority". Foreign media reported that online communities in Myanmar are fuelling violence with hateful comments.Foreign media and Myanmar journalists working in foreign-based media have said that Myanmar people should not be allowed to have freedom of expression. This deserves further scrutiny.
According to statistics in 2009, the number of Internet users in Myanmar was a mere 0.02 per cent of the population. Even if there has been a recent sudden increase in this number, it cannot be more than 2 per cent or 3 per cent of the population. This percentage includes Myanmar Internet users living abroad. Local users are very few, especially in the provinces and states. Only a selected few from this online society have used very harsh words about people of different nationality or religion.
The situation was not as serious as the one in the United States after 9/11 when there was suspicion and hatred against people of different religions. Even on the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attack, the removal of strong comments on the Facebook page of the New York Times was witnessed. Even then, the comment "If 9/11 hadn't happened then '2 million' Muslims wouldn't have been killed" by Derek Cole is still there. This is happening in a renowned democratic country.
Assuming that the Myanmar people are misusing freedom of expression and are full of hatred based on a few comments by online users is a big joke for the 60 million who have been oppressed for many years.
The different races in Myanmar never think of hatred. There might be some incitements, but most of them are not filled with hatred. The ethnic people are also not filled with hate. These cases are not based on the malice of the Rakhine people. If such hatred were to exist, cities with 90 Rakhine people and 10 Bengalis would be burnt to ashes. If you look at the fact that the violence did not happen in areas mostly of Rakhine people, it is obvious that there was no genocide as the Rohingyas claimed to the foreign media. The Rakhine nationals only made some counter-attacks when they could not stand any more.
Not only the Rakhine people, but also other ethnic groups are not in a condition to feel hatred towards others, for they cannot even protect their own people. For 50 years, without fully realising the union of Myanmar, the ethnic groups have had to live without any protections. They have had to surrender their lands to others. They have had to migrate to the cities and other countries. Then they themselves had to live as refugees in foreign countries. The Mon and Kayin are convincing evidence of this crisis.
While some Kayin refugees are residing in Thailand, some Kayin, Chin and Mon people are still migrating to other countries. Our national brethren have no time to foster hatred for each other as they are still losing their homes. The problems of Kayin refugees can be witnessed at refugee camps in Thailand. They cannot enjoy the rights of citizenship anywhere.
Therefore, we should concentrate on bringing our nationals abroad back home, rather than accepting foreign refugees who are fighting with local ethnic groups. It does not mean negligence of humanitarianism.
Therefore, we want to invite Thomas Fuller of the New York Times to witness the lives of Myanmar ethnic groups and to visit Rakhine state. Facebook and Internet users are not making incitements to racial hatred, but are expressing their sympathy for the possible extinction of national ethnic groups. Those who cannot ignore the problem of helpless people are participating in the issue. In fact, the Rakhine people are not in a situation that allows them to create hatred.
Ethnic groups who remained faithful to the land for thousands of years could not demand the reinstatement of their rights for over 50 years. However, illegal migrants are bursting out and some foreign sources are beseeching us on their behalf - for their unreasonable demands - by exaggerating the recent violence. Well, I have no idea what to say anymore.
This is the conclusion of a two-part article that began in yesterday's edition.