Broadcaster’s Terminology in Arakan Conflict Coverage Irks Military

By The Irrawaddy 4 May 2016

RANGOON — Burma’s military, officially known as the Tatmadaw, strongly condemned a Burmese broadcaster for calling an ethnic armed organization the “Rakhine Tatmadaw” and referring to Tatmadaw troops as “government forces,” according to a military statement released Tuesday night.

MRTV-4, a private broadcaster affiliated with Burma’s Ministry of Information, aired a story on Friday in which it reported that 1,100 locals in Arakan State, also known as Rakhine State, were recently displaced by fighting between the “Rakhine Tatmadaw”—in reference to the Arakan Army—and “government forces.”

The military took exception to the word “Tatmadaw” being used to describe any group that is not the state armed forces, officially translated as the Defense Services in English. Further stoking ire was the replacement of the word Tatmadaw with “government forces,” a term which the military apparently felt had diminished its authority.

“In every country in the world, there is only one armed forces to safeguard the country,” read a statement from the Tatmadaw True News Information Team. “And Section 337 of the 2008 Constitution states that the Tatmadaw is the main armed force assembled for the defense of the Union.”

“This misuse of the word ‘Tatmadaw’ defames the image and dignity of the Tatmadaw, and implies that MRTV-4 supports the Rakhine insurgent group,” continued the Tatmadaw statement.

“MRTV-4 failed to follow media ethics and it was an unfair broadcast. On behalf of the Defense Services [Army, Navy and Air], we strongly condemn and call upon officials to take necessary action.”

The military’s indignation—“fumes” was the verb chosen by English-language state media to describe the Tatmadaw’s mood—was not ineffectual.

Shortly after the Tatmadaw statement was issued, MRTV-4 posted an apology on its official Facebook account.

MRTV-4 “unintentionally misused” the term “[Rakhine] Tatmadaw” in reference to the “AA insurgent group,” according to the apology.

“The editorial team failed to properly check the story and apologizes to the Defense Services … for upsetting them,” it continued.