Growing up in Myanmar, the back of every newspaper had a section with big, bold letters that read, “BBC is lying, VOA is lying, RFA is lying; Sky full of lies”. The appearance of those words in newspapers, television, and books was stopped in 2010, when the government launched a series of political reforms. But, here I am in 2017, and I hear the same narrative that “the international media is lying” again. Surprisingly, this time, the narrative is being advanced not only by the military and the government, but also by the vast majority of Myanmar people, including even those who spent their whole lives in prison because they had called for democracy and human rights.
The Rohingya exodus, one of the biggest humanitarian crises in the world, has inspired people to echo the narratives set by the military regime over the past few decades is. Following the attack by Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) on police outposts in August 25 2017, the military conducted a “clearance operation” in the area where the attack happened. As a result, over 700,000 Rohingya population had to flee to the neighboring country of Bangladesh. Rohingya are a marginalized Muslim minority who have lived in the West of the country for generations. According to the existing citizenship law passed in 1982, the government wiped out the citizenship of the majority Rohingya population, and the government and the public do not recognize them as an ethnic group of Myanmar since then.