BURMESE (Myanmar) state media has announced a trip for local and foreign journalists to visit Rakhine State, where the country’s military has been accused of human rights abuses against the Rohingya.
According to government-owned newspaper The Global New Light of Myanmar, a team of 20 foreign and local media groups will be permitted to “freely investigate” in the Maungtaw District, northern Rakhine state between March 28 and April 1. The delegation will be led by general manager U Ye Naing from the Information Ministry.
The article refers to Rakhine state as “the site of violent attacks in October on border police outposts that prompted months of security clearance operations,” referencing an assault on police officers in the volatile region which left nine police officers dead and led to a brutal clampdown on Rohingya.
The United Nations has claimed more than 1,000 Rohingya have been killed in the army’s operations in Rakhine, and at least 70,000 Rohingya have fled to neighbouring Bangladesh since late 2016. The country’s leader Aung San Suu Kyi has been widely criticised for her failure to speak out on the plight of the Rohingya.
On the “excursion” to Rakhine State, the government said journalists are expected to cover “the fleeing and resettlement of families, damage and reconstruction of areas destroyed by fire, the resulting decline of the fishing industry of the district, immigration and trading of merchandise near the border.”
No mention of military violence against the Rohingya population is mentioned.
The newspaper report also notes that some foreign and local press were granted access to the Maungtaw District on Dec 19, 2016. At that time, however, the Associated Press and BBC were both barred and the junket was widely criticised as a controlled exercise in propaganda.
Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Myanmar secretary Thitsa Hla Htway told Voice of America that the December trip was “just for show … the government’s intention is to exploit them only.”
The same month, Burma’s Religious Affairs and Culture Ministry announced it was working on a treatise at proving the Rohingya community are not indigenous to the country.