The Myanmar government will take legal action against a British tabloid that published a fabricated report and false images allegedly showing an army soldier torturing a Rohingya Muslim child in the country’s troubled Rakhine state, a government spokesman said Friday.
The photos and a video published Wednesday on the Daily Mail’s website shows a laughing soldier using a stun gun on a naked toddler who is crying and appears to roll over in pain on the ground.
Myanmar security forces cracked down on the Rohingya in the northern part of Rakhine state following deadly attacks on three border guard stations in early October. The Rohingya have accused the soldiers of extrajudicial killings, torture, rape, and arson, though the military and government have denied the allegations.
The government will respond legally and journalistically to the Daily Mail for its wrongful publication of the photos, Zaw Htay, spokesman of the President’s Office, told RFA’s Myanmar Service.
“For this case, we will respond by legal means or by international journalistic procedures,” he said.
“At the moment, Daily Mail has not taken any responsibility for its wrongful coverage, but the damage has done by dissemination through Twitter, Facebook, and other social media,” he said.
The images are from an incident that occurred in Cambodia’s Mondulkiri province, he said.
A Dutch man and two Vietnamese men have been arrested for torturing the boy in the photos, while a third Vietnamese man is still being sought, according to a report by state-run Myanmar News Agency (MNA).
Zaw Htay said the fabrication of the story continues to damage the image of Myanmar and its people.
The government has come under fire from western countries, the United Nations, and a few predominantly Muslim countries in Asia for its handling of the crisis in Rakhine and failure to ensure the security of the Rohingya.
Zaw Htay also said the President’s Office is calculating the amount of damage caused via social media and will consult the attorney general about how it can seek legal recourse against the newspaper.
The Daily Mail removed the story and images by Dave Burke from its website soon after they were found to be inaccurate, but archived versions of the article are still circulating on social media, the MNA report said.
The Myanmar government has charged other outside news organizations with publishing inaccurate reports about the security operations in northern Rakhine state.
Reported by RFA’s Myanmar Service. Translated by Kyaw Min Htun. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.