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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

  • THI HA

    BBC & Anna Jones, We (all legal ethnic groups of the Union of Myanmar) need your legal aplogy for what you have done to the map of the Union of Myanmar.

  • Naing Myo Oo

    You,Anna Jones from BBC should have been ashamed for what you did Our Map and Ethics wrong so that the world wrongly think of about our country ,history,Map and Ethics.

  • Kyaw Win

    If Rohingyas are Bangladeshis, why Bangladesh is not accepting them is the question.

    There are Rakhines in Bangladesh, migrated from Arakan, they are rightfully called as Bangladeshis. Xenophobes everywhere find it difficult to accept human differences.

    • Dear Ko Kyaw Win,

      Thanks for your comment. But there are some netizens who believe that those Rakhine (Arakanese) in Bangladesh are also highly discriminated. And as you might have understood, Bangladesh’s area is relatively small comparing to its population ratio. Hope you would think more for it.

      • nyimg

        Dear Ko Kyaw Win ,

        The Arakan , Maramar in Balgladesh were reconized as the ethnic tribes for many decades since before Bengladesh or Pakistan was not founded as countries . The so-called “Rohingya ” are just the illegal Bengli immigrants who have been staying in Chittagong Region from Bengladesh came to Myanmar after 1825 after the British colonization to Arakan State . In facts , that term ” Rohingya ” were not even reconized in Bengladesh and that term was created bu some Bengalis only in 1950 according to true historical research . If you ask most of the Bengalis in Bengladesh ” who are the so called Rohingtyas ? ” , you will hear that ” they would say ” so called Rohingya ” are Chittagonian Bengalis ” This was not about Xenophobes or racial discrimination , but about the capaigning to correct worng historical facts and misleading faked illustrations of our Map by BBC . Hope you well understand it.

  • ko lay

    make sure ur news & apologize to Myanmar for ur mistake .

  • Dear BBC,

    I am so shock on your article by your professional well trained journalist Anna Jones on one of Myanmar Ethnic Group describing as rohingha. And also amazed even so many comment received for wrong facts of the map. Still ignoring the reader and not following the journalism practice to apology for wrong information. For these fact you will not be reputed media anymore unless apology to Native People Of Myanmar.

  • htetmyoshwe

    BBC,

    That is not right.

    You have no right to decide for “Burmese Affair” regarding these issue.

    This is our problem and we will make decision for our future.

    Htetmyoshwe

  • Zar Ni

    Do apology to us NOW ! Rohingyas are not our ethnics !

  • BBC, apology all of Myanmar Citizen, for your mistake.

  • sunny

    We want your official apology. You are responsible for your deliberate mistake.

  • AUNG NAING

    Don’t call Rhohingya! Thay are Bengali.

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