Myanmar’s de-facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi has claimed that the crisis in Rakhine state is being distorted by a “huge iceberg of misinformation”, media reports said on Wednesday.
In her first comments on the latest Rohingya crisis, she said tensions were being fanned by fake news promoting the interests of terrorists, the BBC reported.
Suu Kyi made the comments in a phone call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Efe news quoted her office as saying.
More than 123,000 Rohingyas have fled Myanmar for Bangladesh in two weeks.
The statement carried by the state media, said Suu Kyi told Erdogan that her government had “already started defending all the people in Rakhine in the best way possible”.
Suu Kyi is quoted as saying: “We know very well, more than most, what it means to be deprived of human rights and democratic protection.
“So we make sure that all the people in our country are entitled to protection of their rights as well as, the right to, and not just political but social and humanitarian defence.”
The statement also said there were fake news photographs circulating which were “simply the tip of a huge iceberg of misinformation”.
She said it was a “calculated effort to create a lot of problems between different communities and with the aim of promoting the interest of the terrorists”.
By September 5, there had been 1.2 million tweets talking about the crisis since refugees began flooding over the border. Many with images purportedly showed the violence in the region, the BBC report said.
The BBC report said not all the pictures came from Rakhine. There was one tweeted by Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek dating back to the Rwandan genocide in 1994.
The BBC also said: “The fake news is generated because the government is not allowing media access to the troubled areas.”
The latest conflict was sparked on August 25, when Rohingya militants attacked police posts, triggering a military counter-offensive to protect the civilians.
However, the Rohingya families streaming north into Bangladesh have been reporting that security forces, sometimes backed by armed Buddhist civilians, burned their villages and opened fire on the inhabitants.
Suu Kyi was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize for her work in bringing democracy to Myanmar, but some have called for her Prize to be taken back.
While she has previously acknowledged problems in Rakhine state, she has denied the ethnic cleansing of the Rohingyas, the BBC said.
Several fellow laureates have called on her to act in the latest conflict, and the UN’s special rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar this week said she must “step in”.