Reporting from outside the capital
It is a privilege and responsibility for a journalist to witness and record such a story – changes that a country almost hermetically closed until recently is going through. There are only few such countries left in the world. Economic reforms, political prisoners released (not all!), smiling Aung San Suu Kyi, fair elections, media freedom – it all sounds very nice and there are many happy faces in pictures coming from Myanmar.
But, what often comes in “a package” is not always so nice – ongoing and new ethnic conflicts in Myanmar threaten to obscure the oversimplified image of a country that is “on the road to democracy”. It is a long and difficult road. Yes, it has to start somewhere and it can’t happen overnight but it is just not enough to be against dictatorship, communism, junta… Ex-Yugoslavia, former Soviet Union, Iraq, Afghanistan – we all know what happened there and how difficult and painful the transition was. Especially knowing how complex is the ethnic structure of those countries. Or was complex, as in my, now late country Yugoslavia.
Over past several weeks sectarian violence brought Rohingya issue onto front pages – houses were burnt, people killed and many thousands displaced… Just before the violence started Andrew Marshall and I visited Rakhin state in northwest Myanmar to make a “special report” for Reuters on Rohingya people.
I’m afraid we will hear more from Rakhine and other corners of Myanmar in the future. Hope to be wrong, but from what I know and from what I hear this could be a long story. I really hope not as violent as in past few weeks.