The exaggerated version of truth about violence in Myanmar propagated by religious groups in Pakistan to recruit and fund their own agendas.
By Taha Siddiqui
Islamabad, Pakistan – Pakistanis are mounting protests online and in the streets of cities like Lahore and Peshawar over the ill-treatment of Muslims in Myanmar, a situation that Islamist groups here are distorting to raise money and potentially win recruits.
The international community has raised concerns about human rights abuses against Muslim Rohingyas in Myanmar. Clashes in June between Rohingyas and their Buddhist neighbors, the Rakhine, left 78 dead, according to the Myanmar government. A new Human Rights Watch report calls the number “grossly underestimated” and charges that security forces failed to protect Rohingyas, and in some cases opened fire on them.
But on the streets of Pakistan, the rhetoric runs much hotter with protesters claiming “thousands” of Rohingyas are being slaughtered in western Myanmar (also known as Burma). Online, meanwhile, a series of doctored and misidentified photographs are circulating widely in Pakistani social media and beyond that purport to show violence against Rohingyas.
Investigations by social media watchdogs, and the respected Pakistani newspaper Express Tribune, have proven that most of these claims are exaggerated or entirely false.
For example, one photo posted on a Facebook page originating from Pakistan show Buddhists dressed in their traditional red robes standing in the middle of two rows of dead bodies. The caption reads: “Bodies of Muslims killed by Buddhists.” In reality, this picture is from an earthquake incident in China in 2010, where Tibetan monks came to help with the rescue efforts.