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Aung San Suu Kyi goes for the “fake news” defense in Myanmar’s Rohingya crisis

Aung San Suu Kyi goes for the “fake news” defense in Myanmar’s Rohingya crisis
[Photo: Kjetil Elsebutangen, UD]

Some 123,000 ethnic Rohingya are believed to have fled Myanmar (formerly Burma) since August 25 as their villages have been razed and their people killed in unrest between the mostly Muslim group and the country’s majority Buddhist population. After being widely criticized for her nonresponse, the country’s de facto leader–Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi–has finally commented on the situation.

Per the BBC, her defense may sound familiar to Americans: In a phone call with Turkey’s President Erdogan, Suu Kyi said her government had “already started defending all the people in Rakhine [where the unrest is taking place] in the best way possible,” but added that fake news was making the situation worse, citing “a huge iceberg of misinformation calculated to create a lot of problems between different communities and with the aim of promoting the interest of the terrorists.”

This defense has basis in reality. The BBC reports that many photos of the crisis circulating online are, in fact, mislabeled. For instance, Turkey’s deputy prime minister Mehmet Simsek is getting dragged online for tweeting about the Rohingya crisis accompanied by photos from a Nepali flood and the Rwandan genocide–confusing an already complicated situation.

But the government is not exactly helping to stem the misinformation. “The fake news is generated because the government is not allowing media access to the troubled areas,” the BBC reports, quoting Tin Htar Swe of its Burmese Service.ML