Journalists in Myanmar Face Pressure in Reporting Rohingya Crisis

Published May 3rd, 2018 - 06:30 GMT
Rohingya Muslims seeking to cross the Naf River into Bangladesh are turned away by border guards. (AFP/ File Photo)
Rohingya Muslims seeking to cross the Naf River into Bangladesh are turned away by border guards. (AFP/ File Photo)

Journalists in Myanmar work under immense pressure by the government which restricts fair reportage of the Rohingya crisis, Anadolu Agency’s editor-in-chief of foreign language services said on Wednesday.

Speaking at "Rohingya Crisis and Solutions”, an international conference in Cologne, Germany, Mehmet Ozturk said: “It is necessary to get permission for journalists to go to Rakhine regions where massacres and persecutions are experienced. Getting permission is so much difficult while journalists do not get permission in many case. So it's a big blackout.”

Since August last year, more than 750,000 Rohingya Muslims fled their homeland amid a brutal crackdown by the Myanmar security forces, according to the UN.

At least 9,000 Rohingya were killed in Rakhine state from Aug. 25 to Sept. 24, according to Doctors Without Borders.

Ozturk said it has been very difficult for international media organizations to get objective and reliable information from the region.

Myanmar's government often turns down visa requests of international media representatives who want to travel to the region. Local journalists, on the other hand, have to act carefully, due to security concerns.

“Even if the local media knows what the Rohingya people are experiencing, it can’t report it as it is,” he said.

Ozturk said, many international media organisations focused on getting information through refugees who crossed to the neighbouring country.

“Journalists reporting from Bangladesh, related to what is happening in Myanmar, have to be content with what they are told by Rohingya, who have escaped from Rakhine state, rather than their own observations. The visuals are also obtained from the Rohingya refugees.

"This creates the problem of verification of the information and images,” he said.

Ozturk, who has wide experience in the region, also underlined that when reporting on the Rohingya crisis, one has to bear in mind that this is not just a religion-based or ethnic conflict.

“There are also political, economic, military-wise and strategic aspects of the issue,” he said, stressing on the strategic importance of the region and its rich natural resources.

He noted that the persecution of the Rohingya people and their sufferings have been closely followed by the international community, putting pressure on the government to act.

“The humanitarian tragedies of Oct. 9, 2016 and Aug. 25, 2017 were like-no-other for Rohingya, but the world, especially Muslim countries reacted like never before. An international consciousness about Rohingya started to emerge,” he said.

“The issue was transferred to the UN Security Council. The pressure on Myanmar government continues to rise day-by-day.”

This article has been adapted from its original source.

© Copyright Andolu Ajansi

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