Myanmar Beauty Queen 'Dethroned' for Practicing Freedom of Speech

By Faith Magbanua, October 03, 2017 23:10 PM

Shwe Eain Si(Shwe Eain Si / Facebook)

A Burmese beauty queen has claimed that she was stripped of her pageant title over a video she made about the ongoing violence in the Rakhine state.

Shwe Eain Si had posted a video clip online last week, accusing Rohingya militants of perpetuating the unrest. As a result of her video, the organizers of the Miss Grand Myanmar pageant announced on Sunday that the 19-year-old's title has been revoked.

According to reports, the organizers stated that the beauty queen has breached contract rules and did not behave like a role model. However, no mention of her video upload was mentioned.

On Tuesday, Shwe Eain Si immediately drew the connection between her dethronement and the video that surfaced the internet.

"Yes, Shwe Eain Si made a video about the reign of terror brought about by the Arsa militants in Rakhine state, but that was hardly qualified as a failure to project a decent image of a pageant contestant," a statement posted on her Facebook page said, making reference to the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army.

It added that she "is obliged as a citizen of this country to use her fame to speak out the truth for her nation".

The Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (abbreviated ARSA), or also known by its former name Harakah al-Yaqin (meaning Faith Movement in English), is a Rohingya insurgent group active in northern Rakhine State, Myanmar. According to a December 2016 report by the International Crisis Group, it is led by Ata Ullah, a Rohingya man who was born in Karachi, Pakistan, and grew up in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. Other members of its leadership include a committee of Rohingya émigrés from Saudi Arabia.

In the video that was posted on her Facebook page last week, the beauty queen says Arsa's "caliphate-style movement" attacks were "out of proportion".

Speaking in English, Shwe Eain Si accuses the militants and their supporters of conducting a media campaign "so that harbingers of terror and violence themselves [now seem] as if they are the oppressed".

Her video makes no remark of the Burmese military's widespread atrocities allegedly committed against the Muslim Rohingya minority. The army, which has been accused of conducting ethnic cleansing, has said it is only targeting militants.

The latest outbreak of Rakhine violence began on 25 August when Arsa militants attacked a security post, triggering a military crackdown. More than 500,000 Rohingya have since fled to neighboring Bangladesh to escape the violence.

Rakhine villagers and other minorities, such as Hindus, have also been affected by violence.

However, correspondents say that the large wave of Rohingya migrants and their widespread claims of abuse at the hands of the military indicate that their community has been disproportionately affected.


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