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Burmese army apologizes for mistaken photos in book on Rohingya crisis

YANGON – The Burmese military issued a rare apology on Monday, acknowledging that two photographs it published in a book on the crisis over the Rohingya Muslim minority were “published incorrectly”.

Reuters published an exclusive report on Friday revealing that two of the pictures in the book that aimed at illustrating the army’s account of last year’s events in the western Myanmar state of Rakhine, were in fact archive pictures of different conflicts, and one was posted with an incorrect caption.

The erroneous publication of the photographs comes amid a series of government steps against what it has seen as media abuses, including a report on army activity in an ethnic minority guerrilla zone and the flying of a drone in the capital, Naypyitaw.

The image of Hutus fleeing Rwanda in 1996 (top) taken by Martha Rial for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette appears in the Myanmar army’s recently published book (bottom), purporting to show Rohingya entering the country. Image: Reuters

On Monday, a court jailed for seven years two reporters from Reuters on a charge of violating a secrets law.

Reuters found that two of the photographs in the military book on the Rohingya crisis were actually taken in Bangladesh and Tanzania and a third was falsely labeled as showing Rohingya entering Myanmar from Bangladesh, when in reality the picture was of refugees leaving Myanmar.

The military’s official newspaper, the Myawady Daily, issued a statement on Monday from its publishing arm, which produced the book ‘Myanmar Politics and Tatmadaw: Part I’, apologizing for two of the photographs.

“It was found that two photos were incorrectly published,” the publishing arm said in a statement carried by the newspaper, referring to the photograph from Tanzania and another showing victims of Bangladesh’s 1971 war of independence.

An image from Getty Images (top) showing Rohingya and Bangladeshi migrants, whose boat was seized by Myanmar’s navy as they began to flee. The same image (bottom) appears in the Myanmar army’s book describing Bengalis entering Myanmar. Image: Reuters

“We sincerely apologize to the readers and the owners of the photographs for the mistake,” it said.

It did not mention the photograph incorrectly captioned as showing Rohingya entering Myanmar when the picture was of them leaving.

Myanmar government spokesman Zaw Htay and military spokesman Major General Tun Tun Nyi could not be reached for comment.

The army’s department of public relations and psychological warfare published the book in English and Burmese in July.

Read more from source: REUTERS 

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