On Sunday, the Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina described Myanmar’s attitude as disgusting and said the country is ruining their own reputation. By now, there are few who would not agree with her. In one of the most sinister twisted and ill devised propaganda campaign ever, the Myanmar army printed a book with fake pictures to justify the genocide of Rohingya Muslims. As if this was not bad enough, the Myanmar army used pictures from the 1971 genocide of Bangladesh when the Pakistani army killed millions of Bengali civilians resulting in a revolutionary war that gave birth to the modern state of Bangladesh.
The 1971 genocide remains the darkest chapter in the history of Bangladesh, and it can be understood why the people of that country, including their Prime Minister responded in this manner to Burmese propaganda.
The 117 page book issued by the Tatmadaw’s department of public relations and psychological warfare has other reasons to offend Bangladesh. The book provides a long and purported history of how the Bengali people, with their Muslim faith intruded into Burmese territory, killed the men, raped the women and took over the territory. Such lies have been used as the basis for justifying the 2017 military operation which killed approximately 25,000 Rohingya Muslims, and resulted in gruesome atrocities such as snatching children from their mother’s wombs and throwing them into the fire, the entire destruction of Rohingya habitats, and so on. Of course the term Bengali has always been used to describe the Rohingya. This book confirms once again that the Myanmar military does not distinguish between Rohingyas and Bengalis.
Additional fake photos include a picture of Hutus fleeing Rwanda genocide in 1996, passed off as a photo of Bengalis entering Arakan en masse. Another picture of desperate Rohingyas escaping by sea was doctored to show Bengalis entering Arakan illegally by the watercourse.
Altogether the book is a clumsy compilation which can fool no one. The book printed only came to international attention after a Reuters report last week. It has caused such an uproar that the Tatmadaw in a desperate attempt to repair their lost reputation issued an apology.
The book shows the extent to which the Myanmar propaganda machine is willing to lie to justify the genocide of Rohingyas. For years, the Rohingyas have been portrayed as a terrorist community, and the oppressed Muslims have been labelled the oppressors. It also shows the gullibility of the Buddhist Burmese population, who are ready to believe all sorts of strange and fictious facts about the Muslims. Despite the international condemnation, support for the Tatmadaw has peaked since 2017 and much of the population whole heartedly support this one sided violence perpetuated by the state forces as a measure of defense against intruding ‘Bengalis’. Few if any in Myanmar cared to point out the fake pictures and the fake content even though it was so obvious, just as they failed to condemn the genocide of Muslims in 2017.