Nay Myo Wai, chairman of the Peace and Diversity Party, threatened journalists ahead of an anti-UN rally in Yangon, saying Japanese and American journalists already got their throats slit and Myanmar's journalists are next in line.
Nay Myo Wai made these comments publicly minutes before the protest in Yangon condemning the United Nations and international media’s claims that many boat people stranded in the Andaman Sea and Malacca Strait are from Myanmar.
Nay Myo Wai’s comments were specifically directed at the Democratic Voice of Burma’s coverage of the migrant boat crisis.
“Journalists from DVB – you guys make so much noise. Guess what? We can make noise too. Hey guys, there are media here right now. Say it once and for all. Not only the media can spread chaos, we can do it, too. You are a journalistic hero only if you report all of the truth and dare to report nothing but the truth. Japanese journalists have had their throats slit, isn’t that true? American journalists have had their throats slit also, isn’t that true? The only ones left are the journalists from Myanmar. Only Myanmar Journalists are left,” shouted Nay Myo Way into a megaphone. His statements were greeted with applause and cheering from the crowd that had gathered for the rally.
Mhu Thit, editor of the Street View Journal, said this is not the first time Nay Myo Wai has made such threats. There are records of him giving speeches and posting statements online that are aimed at stirring fear and hatred of religious and ethnic minorities in Myanmar.
Mhu Thit also said the Union Election Commission and Myanmar Press Council should be consulted on how to respond to such behaviour from a political party leader, who is often granted audiences with the president of Myanmar.
One journalist working for an international media outlet said: “These words that were so boldly said, especially from a party leader vying for leadership in a democratic system, show that he and his party are both heading toward terrorism. If the government truly has democratic intentions, this matter should be handled strictly and expertly.”
On the day, more than 100 Buddhist nationalists including monks and nuns marched in Yangon in protest at the international portrayal of the country's role in the boat migrant crisis.
"Most foreign countries and organisations including United Nations are blaming Myanmar as a source of boat people crisis," said Sayadaw Pamaukkha, a prominent Yangon abbot and co-organiser of the rally.
"Foreign media are saying Myanmar is a land of discrimination against Muslim people," Pamaukkha said.
"This is not true, we have lived together with Muslims here for centuries. "We have no problem with Burmese Muslims. But we don't want Bengali Muslims becoming Myanmar citizens or settle in our land as refugees," he said.
The United Nations Security Council on Thursday held its first closed-door briefing on the human rights situation in Myanmar, focusing on the dire situation of the Rohingya, the United States and council diplomats said.
UN human rights chief Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein briefed the council via video link in a meeting that US Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power welcomed on her Twitter feed as a "historic first" for the 15-nation body, in which Zeid painted a "grim picture of discrimination against Rohingya."
"Zeid gave a powerful briefing on the dire situation and 'institutional discrimination' faced by the Rohingya in Myanmar," a council diplomat present at the meeting told Reuters on condition of anonymity.
"They are often violently abused by smugglers, hundreds recently dying at sea," the diplomat said. "This demands a comprehensive response. Must look at root causes."
Council members welcomed a crisis meeting in Bangkok aimed at addressing Southeast Asia's migrant crisis.
At the meeting in Bangkok on Friday, Myanmar delegate Foreign Ministry Director-General Htin Lynn said in stern response to a UNHCR plea to address the root causes of the ongoing migration crisis including the statelessness issue "this issue of illegal migration of boat people, you cannot single out my country”.
Last week, South Africa's Archbishop and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Desmond Tutu and Tibetan Buddhist spiritual leader Dalai Lama joined the international community’s call to help the poor people.
The Dalai Lama urged fellow Nobel peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi to do more. Opposition leader Suu Kyi is yet to comment on the boat people crisis.
The Tibetan Buddhist spiritual leader said she must speak up.
"I met her two times, first in London and then the Czech Republic. I mentioned about this problem and she told me she found some difficulties, that things were not simple but very complicated.
"But in spite of that I feel she can do something."
Tutu called Tuesday for international aid to Myanmar to be linked to the plight of the Rohingya people.
"2015 is a big year for Myanmar with both a referendum on its constitution and a general election," Tutu told an Oslo conference on the Rohingya.
"We have a responsibility to ensure that the plight of the Rohingya is not lost," he said.
"We have a responsibility to persuade our international and regional aid and grant-making institutions, including the European Union, to adopt a common position making funding the development of Myanmar conditional on the restoration of citizenship, nationality, and basic human rights to the Rohingya," he said.