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Myanmar Netizens to BBC: Apologize Now

Some Myanmar netizens are asking BBC to apologize for publishing an ‘inaccurate’ map of Myanmar's ethnic groups. They claim that BBC reporter Anna Jones used an inaccurate map in an article she wrote on November 5, 2010 titled “Bleak outlook for Burma's Ethnic Groups.”

According to them, the map showed that Rakhine (Arakan) State is represented by Rohingya who are identified as a minority group in Myanmar even though the state is inhabited by Rakhine People (Arakanese). Furthermore, they said the map wrongfully depicted the Shan State to be represented not only by “Shan” ethnics but also by “Wa”; and that the Ayeyarwaddy Division and Kayah are represented by Karen and so on which are not in conformity with Myanmar's official ethnic and state definitions.

Myanmar netizens flooded a BBC Burmese Facebook page with comments asking the media network to issue an official apology letter to Myanmar citizens for saying that Rohingya is one of the ethnic groups in Myanmar.

Thein Tun Zan wrote about the relationship between Rakhine People and Rohingyas and requested an apology letter from BBC on behalf of all Myanmar citizens.

The presence of Muslim Bengali immigrants in Arakan State in Myanmar (Burma) is similar to the presence of Christian English people in Hong kong, Macau, South Africa and etc.

It is no different to having Muslim immigrants from Arab world in the Great Britain itself. The presence of Muslim Arabs does not make Britain an Arabic Country or the state of Arab Muslim.

As such, Arakan State is by no mean a state of immigrant Bengali Muslims. Calling them Rohinjas or whatsoever does not make them an indigenous ethnic Arakanese people who has founded Arakan Kingdoms and lived for thousands of years.

Dear BBC, the wrongful presentation and bias representation of ethnic profile in Anna Jones article is a serious mistake and oversight that BBC has done to damage the genuine Arakanese people.

Therefore, I and all those who “like” and support on this wall post, demand you, “BBC”, to immediately correct the Article of Anna Jones and issue an apology for your mistake.

Another netizen, Khaing Minn Nyo posted his comments on the Facebook page

Dear BBC Burmese News, and its Editor Group, your broadcasting center should do something for wrong information about the article of Anna Jones. If your News really wants to change Burma to Democracy, you are not ought to broadcast the wrong information. Good Luck BBC. I am waiting for your response.

Nyan Myint Aung also expressed his disappointment [my].

I don't know their aim. But it's absolutely wrong. I'm totally against it.

Aye Maung, a Rakhine ethnic who studied in University of Aberdeen, Scotland affirms the rights of the Rohingyas although he is worried about the demand of the group to create a new state. Meanwhile, Naing Zaw compared the Rohingyas in Myanmar and the Burmese in Thailand.

There are 4-6 million Burmese who are currently residing in Thailand… That's like 10% of total population of Thailand…. Do BBC dare to flag up Myanmar people on Thailand map so that we can ask for citizenship or recognized ethnicity??? Most of them are denied even the basic human rights and exploited on all accounts, thanks to ajar door policy on immigration…. If your purpose of presenting information is truly genuine to the interest of the people of Myanmar, try to gain insights and report and speak out these terrible and inhumane exploitations on behalf of “Genuine” Myanmar people.

After hundreds of complaints were posted on the BBC Burmese Facebook Page, BBC first removed the map from both articles without announcing anything officially. Then, they put it back after modifying the map by putting Rakhine (Arakanese) together with Rohingya representing Rakhine (Arakan) State. The article in the website was updated with this note

UPDATE 28 October 2011: The map in this article was temporarily removed on 27 October 2011 to make some changes. It has now been replaced with an updated version which includes a section on the Rakhine people.

Some netizens sent a formal complaint to BBC though this has not yet been listed in the “Responses to Complaints”. The BBC Burmese posted on their Facebook page a reply from BBC News Online.

Thank you for your comments. The map was not intended as an exhaustive look at every ethnic group in Burma. Rather it was intended to flag up minority peoples in Burma's border regions who are prominent because they are engaged in either disputes or conflict with the Burmese government. The line linking the Rohingya to Arakan state was not intended to imply ownership of the state or to marginalise the Rakhine people, but simply to show readers the state in which the Rohingya live. The text linked to the image of the Rohingya makes it clear that they are not granted Burmese citizenship. We have now adjusted the line on our map to give a clearer picture of where the Rohingya are to be found. We have also added a section featuring the Rakhine people. On the second page, we have amended our text to make a distinction between minority groups and recognised ethnic groups. Thank you for reading the BBC News website.

About 70 people responded it within an hour and most of them mentioned that BBC still need to apologise for the wrong facts and inaccurate visualisation about Myanmar's ethnic groups. Chan Myae Khine commented that

Though it was not intended to imply ownership of Rakhine (Arakan) State, the readers with less knowledge will surely think Rohingyas were one of important ethnic groups of Myanmar. Plus, if they honestly wish to point out the minority groups of people, they MUST put Le Su, Inn Thar, Myo, Thet and many more 100+ ethnics on the map.

Using such a wrong visualisation is just persuading readers to believe the wrong situation and history of Myanmar. Therefore, BBC and the journalist and whoever sketched this map MUST apologise to all Myanmar citizens!!!

65 comments

  • KMK

    There is no Rohingya in Myanmar, they are just Bengali.

  • Bengali (Rohingya) is not myanmar enthnic

    I love globalvoices for such valuble netizens’ voices. It’s very apparent that these Bengali people (claimed themselves Rohingyas) are never been and ethnic of Buma and never will. We all agree that we should provide food, shelter and basic human rights to them but never name them as an ethnic. Thanks million to globalvoices to put such genuine article alive! Thanks.

    And here you can check who are the Rohingyas which is written with solid reference : http://www.scribd.com/doc/29364513/Who-Are-the-Rohingyas-Dr-aye-Chan

    • kmwin

      Dear BBC,

      Most of Myanmar used to listen BBC and VOA based on some reason. But Rohingia never been ethnic of Burma or never will be. Even most of Myanmar people never heard of it till recent news from outside media. Believe me all 54 million people including all ethnic people will never accept this.
      I am not from Arakan state but study well about Myanmar history and if BBC didn’t accept the severe mistake , all Myanmar citizen will have negative impression to BBC in future.

  • KMK

    From WikiLeaks :

    Historical Background

    “Muslim Terrorist-Insurrection groups such as the Rohingya
    Solidarity Organization (RSO), Arakan Rohingya Islamic Front
    (ARIF) and Hak Kavt group combined and established the
    Rohingya National Council (RNC) on 28 October, 1998. The RNC
    was then reorganized as the Arakan Rohingya National Council
    (ARNC). The Rohingya Liberation Army (RLA) was also formed
    by combining all the armed insurgents of the groups. The
    Arakan Rohingya National Organization was formed to organize
    all the different Rohingya insurgents into one group under
    pressure from Muslim groups outside Burma. ”

    http://www.wikileaks.ch/cable/2002/10/02RANGOON1310.html

  • Myint Kyaw Thu

    BBC and BBC Burmese, plz apologize officially on your website to all the citizens of Myanmar. All Myanmar agreed with this author’s view.

  • Kyawt Yin Saw

    Dear BBC and Anna Jones,

    I was so shocked when I see the map by putting Rohingya representing Rakhine (Arakan) State.

    Modifying map again by putting Rakhine (Arakanese) together with Rohingya representing Rakhine (Arakan) State is very misleading readers to believe the wrong situation that Rohingya are actually origin from Rakhine State,western part of Myanmar.

    It is still very dangerous information to those who has less background knowledge about Rakhine State.

    There has never been such an ethnic group throughout the history of Rakhine State. In earlier Arakan history and in Burmese history, I haven’t seen the word Rohinhya. Even after independence, there was no such word. Rohinga are just immigrant Bengali Muslims in the mids of 19 century.

    I believe now you have already found the solid references regarding with who Rohingyas are.

    Please make proper correction the map by taking Rohingya out from the map and official confession your mistake to all Rakhine.

  • Aung Hla Tun

    As a journalist working for an international news agency, I was really shocked to see such a silly mistake, deliberately or carelessly, made by a journalist from such a reputable media like BBC.
    I’d like to advise the BBC to make their so-called reporters do their home work well and make sure they are free from bias.
    They can ruin your time-tested good reputation.
    You owe the entire Myanmar people and all your readers an apology.
    Aung Hla Tun
    Yangon

    • AYE AYE KHINE

      AYE AYE KHINE

      We are living in our country(arakan or rakhine) state after birth till now.We love our country much.Why suddenly( bengali or rohingya) claimed that this are their country?If like that can claim the country illegally,where can we find the reality?
      Hopefully now BBC aware that they accidentally made a big mistake.We are awaiting for your amending the big such mistake as early as possible.It’s time to takes responsibilities for yours.

      AYE AYE KKHINE
      SINGAPORE

  • Su

    Time to apologize to Myanmar….

  • BBC,
    You have to take fully responsibility for your mistakes. You do not apologize the people of Burma. We don’t want your policy. But we want your apology. That is all.
    Thanks
    Anti-BBC

  • Writer Anna Jones had one map with the article. Most of the
    map labels for Burma’s ethnic groups are wrong. Especially, in Arakan
    state map section, she wrongfully replaced native Arakanese with
    Bengali immigrants (their self-proclaimed name is Rohingya). As you may
    know, Burma is still fighting for democracy and human rights. However,
    some so called Rohingya are claiming themselves as one of the indigenous
    people of Burma and fighting for establishing an islamic state. So far
    the historians and the people of Burma do not accept them as indigenous
    because historic evidence including British colonial records do not bear
    any name of “Rohingya”. This is one of the most delicate issue in modern
    Burma.

    Many people are offended by Anna Jones’s map. Some are furious. We,
    people from Burma therefore demand formal apology from Anna Jones for
    her propagating false information and unethical conduct. We also demand
    a formal apology from BBC.

  • Many people are offended by Anna Jones’s map. Some are furious. We,
    people from Burma therefore demand formal apology from Anna Jones for
    her propagating false information and unethical conduct. We also demand
    a formal apology from BBC.

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