Contact: Roland Watson, roland@dictatorwatch.org


October 30, 2017

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One thing that is terrible about the situation in Burma is how international media coverage, including from excellent outlets such as the New York Times, the Guardian, and Channel News Asia, and who have reported on the Rohingya genocide fairly, misses other critical facts about the country, or implicitly gets them wrong.

The most important of these facts is this: The Burmans or Bamar ARE NOT the majority group. While they may be the largest group, they - especially pure Burmans, the recruits for Suu Kyi and Min Aung Hlaing's campaign of nationalistic terror - do not comprise greater than 50% of the total population.

This is the only explanation for the refusal by Suu Kyi to publish the ethnicity date from the 2014 national census, and also part of the reason why the Rohingya were not even counted at all. Burma has many other ethnic groups, but not the inaccurate divisions used in the dictatorship's 135 national races. While the major groups certainly have sub groups, the best way to view the country's ethnic diversity is to simplify the analysis to the largest. These include the Karen, Shan, Kachin, Karenni, Mon, Palaung, Pa-O, Wa, Kokang, Naga, Lahu, Lisu, Akha, Chin, Rakhine, and Rohingya. (I'm not a human geographer, so I apologize for not including other smaller groups, and also perhaps listing some which might be considered to be subgroups of bigger families.)

It is no surprise at all that these groups, taken together, certainly when you count individuals who have parents or ancestors from multiple groups, including Burmans, are more than 50% of the population.

This is the dictatorship's biggest conceit, and its greatest lie, that Burma is a majority Burman country: That, as their propaganda name "Myanmar" implies, it is "their" country. This view infects everything. It is the justification for: The colonial war by the Burma Army against the other ethnic nationalities; that the Burma Army itself, Parliament, and even the State governments, have no to very limited ethnic nationality representation; why Suu Kyi has historically refused to cooperate with the ethnic nationality resistance, and why she has no ethnic nationality staff or advisors; why she is pro-development - this means Burmans stealing the resources in the ethnic nationality homelands; and why there is a genocide against the Rohingya, and also their exclusion from the census. (The Rohingya population prior to all of their purges would have been going on two million. This would have been more than enough on its own to push the Burmans in the census to well under 50%.)

There is a black hole in the country. For domestic media, they are almost all exclusively Burman, and repeat verbatim Suu Kyi and Min Aung Hlaing's lies. Virtually everyone from outside in turn parrots the in-country outlets. This means, first and foremost, through acting as it if the ethnic nationalities, and their repression, do not count - that they do not even exist. Diplomats, for example, say that they have to keep backing Suu Kyi, even though they clearly understand that she is a co-conspirator in an actual genocide. But by doing this, they are focusing on an individual who DOES NOT represent the majority of the population. Foreign policy by other countries towards Burma is concentrated solely on accelerating resource and labor exploitation, and therefore backs the companies and other parties who are behind the exploitation.

Unfortunately, the international media, which does not have a money stake in the lies and repression, and which you would therefore presume would be fair, makes the same mistake. Consider Poppy McPherson's article last week in the Guardian, "Rohingya crisis may be driving Aung San Suu Kyi closer to generals."

Some quotes from the article:

1. "If Oxford University takes down one portrait of her, we want to create 2,000 more," says the painter, who goes by the name K Kyaw."

Response: This is a Burman voice. The majority ethnic nationality voices disagree completely.

2. "In Myanmar, the condemnations [of Suu Kyi] are being met with both indignation and pleas for patience."

Response: Again a Burman complaint. The subtext is: "Let us finish the Rohingya genocide!"

3. "As longtime democracy activists fear a return to international isolation and military dominance, diplomats are torn between the need to stand on the right side of history and fear that stronger rebukes, such as sanctions, will further imperil the country's fragile democratic transition."

Response: There is no genuine democratic transition. Diplomats don't care about history, and are always on its wrong side, meaning that they do not support human progress and achieving human rights. They only care about money and power.

4. "The hope instilled in Aung San Suu Kyi – and fear of the alternative – has driven western policy towards Myanmar for years."

Response: Money - business interests, and geopolitical power, have been the only things driving Western policy, certainly not "democracy."

5. "The state counsellor has been criticized for mulling over long-term solutions while neglecting to address the immediate crisis. Both publicly and privately, she is said to have echoed army rhetoric."

Response: the first part is complete bullshit. She's not mulling over anything. She is a fully committed ally of the generals and is waiting - hoping - for the Rohingya genocide to be 100% completed.

6. "The EU has suspended invitations to Europe and is reviewing "all practical defense cooperation". The US has promised to stop inviting senior army officials to events, but is considering imposing targeted sanctions."

Response: These are meaningless reactions to genocide. They are just for show, and only temporary. When the Rohingya genocide is completed and then forgotten in the international press, full on military cooperation including selling weapons to the Tatmadaw will resume.

7. "In the current situation, what the international community are doing is not supporting this government, what they are doing is putting the country back into the hands of authoritarian rule," he says. "They are pushing the Lady and the military closer and closer."

Response: Again, total bullshit. The "government" is part and parcel of the dictatorship. Suu Kyi's authoritarian "leadership" is now fully aligned with the genocidal generals.

In conclusion, Poppy McPherson did what literally almost every single journalist does. She ignored the ethnic nationalities completely - their voices, feelings and issues. She only quoted Burman voices, really, Burman racist ultranationalistic voices.

Please journalists, you are intelligent. You were able to get your jobs in the age of media decline, and with the top remaining outlets. Don't be lazy. Do your work. Understand the situation. Write the true story.