Rohingya

John Rozario

Newspapers and news portals have been the most conventional and popular medium of conveying local, regional, national and international news to the readers. Newspaper serves us the latest happenings in different parts of the world through a network of correspondents and news agencies.

The national dailies employ their correspondents and reporters in all the major cities of the world. The major news portal in Myanmar’s Irrawaddy would shape and influence the views, opinions and attitudes of millions of readers across the globe, especially throughout South and Southeast Asia, Myanmar. It can be the guardians of liberty, civic and human rights in the Southeast Asian region.

In this modern age, newspapers play a very important role in promoting commerce, trade and business. Big corporates and industrial houses promote their products by giving spacious advertisements in newspapers. Classified advertisements, important public announcements and public notices also constitute the important content and material of newspapers. Sports, educational and campus news, dance drama, cultural activities and fine arts are some of the necessary features of all leading newspapers.

The common masses can express their resentment, appreciation and criticism of the policies of authorities. The radio and the TV may have many other attractions but the inquisitive nature of man remains unsatisfied till he goes through the columns of newspapers.

The Irrawaddy is a widely circulated English-language news portal in Southeast Asia, especially Myanmar. It is also widely known in South East Asia. Irrawaddy is very popular in Myanmar. Policymakers, decision-makers, diplomats, academicians, researchers, and businessmen read this news publication regularly. Its hard-hitting insightful editorials and opinions are keenly followed by the government, lawmakers, diplomats and business people alike.

The Irrawaddy is published in both English and Burmese, with a primary focus on Burma and Southeast Asia. It is regarded as one of the foremost journalistic publications dealing with political, social, economic and cultural developments in Burma. In addition to news, it features in-depth political analysis and interviews with a wide range of Burma experts, business leaders, democracy activists and other influential figures.

But it’s a matter of sorrow that Irrawaddy’s role in the Rohingya refugee crisis is not sufficient. Although it is vocal in favor of the democratic rights activists in Myanmar. But in the case of the Rohingya refugee crisis, it has not been playing a sufficient role in circulating news, articles, opinions, and write-ups massively to create public opinion and help mount international pressure on the Myanmar junta.

It plays a biased role. In the rights of Rohingya refugee issue, it always remains silent but it is very vocal towards the democratic protestors. But it should remember that Rohingya issue is also a very important issue in not only Myanmar but also in South and Southeast Asia. Irrawaddy should not focus not only on the Burmese people’s movement but also on the Rohingya people’s rights.

It should and must play a very important role in resolving the Rohingya refugee crisis. It must publish some pertinent news, reports, and articles related to Rohingya refugees. It has been publishing many write-ups regarding the Myanmar crisis and its solution. It is true that its writings can impact all Southeast Asian leaders including Myanmar’s leaders to think about regional issues.

But it’s really a matter of disappointment that the Irrawaddy has not been playing its due role. It seems to us that the Irrawaddy has no special interest in publishing the Rohingya affairs write-ups because it promotes the interest of the major Burmese. But on the Rohingya issue, the Irrawaddy must come out of Pandora’s box.

They must understand, remember and recognize that Rohingyas are also the people of Myanmar. For example, Irrawaddy always publishes news, and articles regularly on many issues. But if we focus on the Rohingya issue that it has few articles on the Rohingya. There is only one write-up on the Rohingya issue in a month or there is no write-up in a month!!!! But as a promotor of ethical journalism in Myanmar, the Irrawaddy should have a great role. If we find some news links on the Irrawaddy, anyone can understand the matter better.

https://www.irrawaddy.com/tag/rohingya. Here is the full list of Rohingya affairs write-ups on the Irrawaddy. There are only 30 write-ups on the Irrawaddy from last year to the present. Some of them are not directly related to the Rohingya rights issue. It’s too little regarding the Rohingya coverage. But the Irrawaddy should and must play a significant role in the case of Rohingya affairs coverage.

https://www.irrawaddy.com/opinion/guest-column/the-rohingya-situation-on-myanmar-bangladesh-border-is-getting-more-dangerous.html (It was published on January 22, 2022)

https://www.irrawaddy.com/opinion/guest-column/letting-junta-defend-myanmar-in-rohingya-genocide-case-sets-troubling-precedent.html (February 16, 2022)

that Irrawaddy can play a strong role in this regard.  Accordingly, Myanmar’s Irrawaddy can and must play a very significant role to solve the crisis in these ways:

  • Irrawaddy can publish all kinds of news, reports and editorials articles regarding the Rohingya refugee crisis to make a public opinion that pressurizes the policymakers in solving Myanmar and Rohingya refugee crises.
  • It can influence Myanmar’s Buddhist society by publishing its nice write-ups.

Irrawaddy is a very fine and excellent newspaper in South East Asia. The accuracy, credibility and acceptability of publications of Irrawaddy is very high. So, it should create public opinion in favor of the Rohingya crisis repatriation to Myanmar on humanitarian grounds.

Irrawaddy is well known for the government of Myanmar, its decision-makers and its people. Thus, it is very easy for the Irrawaddy news portal to influence the policymakers and people of Myanmar to some extent the decision-makers and leaders of whole South Asian countries.

We would appreciate the role of the ‘Irrawaddy’ regarding the ‘Media Coverage of Rohingya Refugee Crisis in South East Asia’. We hope, the Irrawaddy will continue it. One day, policymakers in this region will understand this. The Rohingya refugee would be solved one day and the whole region will be stable.

We think that the role of the Irrawaddy would be very positive and sufficient in this regard. The Irrawaddy should be on the right track. As the Irrawaddy is outspoken I favor of the democratic rights in Myanmar and strident critic of human rights violations on Burmese by the Myanmar military, the news portal must show the same stance in favor of the Rohingya rights and oppression.

John Rozario is a Karnataka-based South Asian affairs researcher and analyst. He can be reached at johnrojariojnu@gmail.com

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