Reuters reporter uncovers faults in Al Jazeera's 'Hidden Genocide'

YANGON - A local reporter for Reuters has turned to Facebook to draw attention to "errors" in an inflammatory documentary about the ethnic conflict in Rakhine State - The Hidden Genocide - that was broadcast by Al Jazeera late last month.

Reuters reporter Soe Zeya Htun said that some of the photos used in the documentary were incorrectly identified, pointing specifically to one image that he said did not even occur in the state where a lingering conflict between ethnic Rakhine and Bengali groups erupted last year.

"The image used at 16 minutes 16 seconds of the video clip is not from Sittwe as Al Jazeera claimed," the Reuters reporter said. "The incident in that photo was from a blast in December 2011 at a state-owned medical warehouse in Yangon," he wrote.

"I myself took that photo for Reuters."

"There are also [other] mistakes in the footage. They said that the arson attacks occurred on June 8, but there were no fires in Sittwe [then]. They first happened in Mingan village on June 10.

"I saw a few snapshots of fires mentioned as 'occurrences on June 9' in the footage," he added.

The image used to depict an arson attack on June 8 was a photo taken by a photographer with news agency Agence France-Presse on June 17, Soe Zeya Htun wrote.

He stressed that he was not claiming the whole footage was right or wrong, but he was of the view there were some errors.

In the mid-December, however, Minister of Border Affairs Thein Htay dismissed the use of the word "genocide" to describe the conflict.

"Just think for yourselves," the Minister said, explaining that the number of "them" [Bengalis] living in the state had risen from 250,000 in 1980 to 1 million last year.

"Neither the residents of Rakhine nor the Bengalis were terrorists," he added. "It was a clash between the two ethnic groups. Both groups have political interests and they tend to use the media for their gain," the minister said.

"We will respond [to specific media reports] if necessary. We do not want to waste our time," he said.

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