Myanmar junta revokes publishing licence over book on Rohingya


Myanmar’s junta has revoked the licence of a publishing house for selling a popular foreign book on the military’s brutal crackdown on the Rohingya minority, state media said on Tuesday, AFP reports.

Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya fled Buddhist-majority Myanmar during a military crackdown in 2017, bringing with them harrowing reports of murder, rape and arson.

In March, the United States officially declared that the violence against the Rohingya amounted to genocide, saying there was clear evidence of an attempt to “destroy” the group.

Lwin Oo publishing house had its licence revoked after it was found to be offering “Myanmar’s Rohingya Genocide” by Irish-Australian academic Ronan Lee for sale online, according to a notice in the state-backed Myanma Alinn newspaper.

According to the author’s website, the book explores Rohingya history and identity and documents the historical marginalisation and abuses against the community.

It relies on extensive Rohingya testimony and historical research and has been lauded by foreign commentators on Myanmar and the Rohingya.

Offering the book for sale “violated the publishing and printing law,” the Myanma Alinn statement said, which forbids expression that can cause “racial and cultural violence between ethnic groups.”

Lwin Oo’s licence to operate was withdrawn on May 28, the notice said.

The publisher could not be reached for comment.

Around 900,000 Rohingya are currently living in the world’s largest refugee camp in neighbouring Bangladesh.

The roughly 600,000 Rohingya estimated to still live in Myanmar are widely seen as interlopers from Bangladesh and have been denied citizenship, rights and access to services.

Junta leader Min Aung Hlaing — who was head of the armed forces during the 2017 crackdown — has dismissed the word Rohingya as “an imaginary term.”

Under a previous junta, all books, newspapers and magazines were required to be submitted to a government censor for vetting before publication.

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