On a new book on the Rohingya crisis, a grainy black-and-white photo has been printed. The photo shows that a man is standing over two bodies, brandishing a farming tool. The book has been penned by Myanmar’s army. However, the caption reads, ‘Bengalis killed local ethnics’. The photo pops up in a section of the book that covers the 1940’s ethnic riots in Myanmar. The text read that Buddhists being killed by Rohingya. However, the book refers to the Muslim minorities as ‘Bengalis’ in order to indicate them as illegal immigrants.
After a close examination of the photograph, revealed that the photo was taken during the 1971 independence war of Bangladesh. During the 1971 war, over thousands of Bangladeshi’s were killed by Pakistani troops.
The book which was issued by the Myanmar army’s department of public relations and psychological warfare contained one of these photos. It has been reported that the images have been distorted as an archival picture of the violence which took place in the state of Rakhine against the Rohingya. Among the three pictures which appear in the book, two other images were taken in Bangladesh and Tanzania. As a matter of fact, the third image was maliciously marked to depict Rohingya’s entering Myanmar from Bangladesh. In reality, migrants are actually leaving the country.
No one from the government or from the military was able to comment on the reliability of the images. U Myo Myint Maung, permanent secretary at the Ministry of Information, refused to comment on the matter stating that he hadn’t read the book.
The 117-page Myanmar Politics and the Tatmadaw: Part 1 details the narrative of the army when more than 700000 Rohingya ran away from Rakhine to Bangladesh because of mass killing, arson, and rape by the military. The content of the book has been sourced from the information unit known as True News of the army. From the very start, this unit has been distributing news via Facebook from the army’s point of view. Across the commercial capital of Yangon, the book is on sale at the bookstores.