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World

AFP
June 13, 2018

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US-backed broadcaster drops Myanmar channel

YANGON: US-backed Radio Free Asia has pulled broadcasts from a television channel in Myanmar after the government tried to ban the word "Rohingya" on its shows.

Myanmar labels the persecuted Muslim minority "Bengalis" as it does not recognise the Rohingya as native to the country, and bristles when the word is used in media coverage. Radio Free Asia made the decision to stop airing its Burmese broadcasts with local network Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB), which airs on state television.

The move came after the government told DVB that they could not carry content with the word "Rohingya", referring to Radio Free Asia’s coverage. The president of RFA Libby Liu said complying with Myanmar’s order would be "inaccurate and disingenuous to both our product and our audience" in a statement posted online on Monday .

"RFA will continue to refer to the Rohingya as the ‘Rohingya’ in our reports," she said, adding that forbidding the usage was an "Orwellian step". RFA said it will continue its coverage of Myanmar on radio and social media platforms such as Facebook.

The Democratic Voice of Burma worked in exile during military rule but came back after Myanmar launched political reforms in 2011 that included the abolition of pre-publication censorship. It was one of a handful of companies recently granted new television licenses by the government and started broadcasting on the state-controlled MRTV channel in April.

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