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.
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!!!