Myanmar is the latest country to piggyback off of a dangerous rhetorical strategy made popular by President Trump. The New York Times reports that an official in Myanmar’s Rakhine state recently said: “there is no such thing as Rohingya. It is fake news.” Rohingya is the Muslim minority in Myanmar facing sweeping persecution from hard-line Buddhists. Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya people have fled the country in the wake of what a top UN official called ethnic cleansing.
This isn’t the first time the country claimed fake news: A few weeks ago, Myanmar’s de facto leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, alluded to reports about the Rohingya crisis and said the situation was being exacerbated by calculated misinformation campaigns.
Over the last year, Trump has made “fake news” one of his most commonly used tactics for evading criticism. Other regimes appear to have taken notice. Last month, Trump tweeted that CNN International is “still a major source of (Fake) news, and they represent our Nation to the WORLD very poorly.” Days later, a Libyan news broadcaster began questioning a CNN report about slave auctions happening in the country. Essentially, the outlet was calling CNN‘s damning report “fake news.”
These are two examples in a matter of weeks. It’s only a matter of time before this new strategy becomes a dangerous anti-press trend.