Framing statelessness and ‘belonging’: Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh’s The Daily Star newspaper

  • Kasun Ubayasiri Griffith University, Brisbane
Keywords: Bangladesh, conflict media, Fourth Estate, human rights journalism, Myanmar, journalism, Rohingya


Stripped of Myanmarese citizenship in 1982 and persecuted for three decades, stateless Rohingya have long found precarious refuge in neighbouring Bangladesh. This study explores the framing of the Rohingya in Bangladesh’s largest circulating English language newspaper The Daily Star, to examine how one of the nation’s most prominent newspapers of record framed refugee migration into the country. Analysing two distinct random samples of news stories published on The Daily Star website between 1 December 2011– 31 November 2012 and 1 August 2017–31 October 2017, this article argues that The Daily Star’s press identity, defined though a nationalist frame, failed to successfully deliver human rights-based journalism though a globalist Fourth Estate imperative.


Download data is not yet available.


Metrics Loading ...


Barcus, H. R., & Halfacree, K. (2018). An introduction to population geographies: Lives across space. New York, NY: Routledge.

Baumgartner, F. R., & Jones, B. D. (2010). Agendas and instability in American politics. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

Bhattacharya, B. (1927). Bengali influence in Arakan, Bengal past and present. Journal of the Calcutta Historical Society, 33(65-66), 139-144.

Buchanan, F. (1799). A comparative vocabulary of some of the languages spoken in the Burma empire. Asiatic Researches, 5, 219-240.

Chowdhury, S. T. (2015, February 12). Yaba, the ‘madness drug’, is finding new routes into Bangladesh. Vice News. [Online News] Retrieved from

De Ruyter, K., & Scholl, N. (1998). Positioning qualitative market research: Reflections from theory and practice. Qualitative Market Research, 7(14), 7-14.

De Vreese, C. H. (2005). News framing: Theory and typology. Information Design Journal & Document Design, 13(1), 51-62.

Downman, S., & Ubayasiri, K. (2017). Journalism for social change in Asia: reporting human rights. London, UK: Palgrave MacMillan.

Eaton, R. M. (1993). The rise of Islam and the Bengal frontier, 1204-1760. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Entman, R. M. (1993). Framing: Towards clarification of a fractured paradigm. Journal of Communication. 43(4), 51–58.

European Commission. (2017). The Rohingya crisis: ECHO factsheet. European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations. [Online report]. Retrieved from

Farzana, K. F. (2011). Music and artistic artefacts: Symbols of Rohingya identity and everyday resistance in borderlands. Austrian Journal of South-East Asian Studies, 4(2), 215-236.

Gamson, W. A., & Modigliani, A. (1987). The changing culture of affirmative action. In R. G. Braungart & M. M. Braungart, (Eds.), Research in political sociology, 3, (pp. 137–177). Greenwich, CT: JAI Press.

Gamson, W. A, and Modigliani, A. (1989). Media discourse and public opinion on nuclear power: A constructionist approach. American Journal of Sociology, 95(1), 1–37.

Gitlin, T. (1980). The whole world is watching: The mass media in the making and unmaking of the new left. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

Grundy-Warr, C., & Wong, E. (1997). Sanctuary under a plastic sheet—the unresolved problem of Rohingya refugees. Boundary and Security Bulletin, 79-91. Durham, UK: Durham University International Boundaries Research Unit.

Haksar, N. (2009). Rogue agent: How India’s military intelligence betrayed the Burmese resistance. India: Penguin Books India.

Haynes, A., Devereux, E., & Breen, M. J. (2004). A cosy consensus on deviant discourse: how the refugee and asylum seeker meta-narrative has endorsed an interpretive crisis in relation to the transnational politics of world’s displaced persons. [Online article]. Retrieved from

HRW (Human Rights Watch). (2012, June). ‘All you can do is pray’: Crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing of Rohingya Muslims in Burma’s Arakan state. [Online report]. Retrieved from

Htin, K. M. (2011). Early Buddhism in Myanmar: Ye Dhammā inscriptions from Arakan. In M. A. Pierre-Yves & G. W. Mani (Eds.), Early Interactions Between South and Southeast Asia: Reflections on Cross-Cultural Exchange (pp. 385-406). Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies.

International Crisis Group. (2016, December 15). Myanmar: A new Muslim insurgency in Rakhine state. [Online report]. Retrieved from

Krishna,S. (1999). Postcolonial insecurities: India, Sri Lanka & the question of nationhood. Minneapolis, US: University of Minnesota Press.

Liang, C. (1990). Burma’s foreign relations: Neutralism in theory and practice. New York, NY: Praeger Publishers.

Ma, Y., Pan, Z., Yu, F., Shi, Y., & Siu, Y. Y. (2018). Constructing Rohingya identity: An analysis of media process and self-representations. Global Media Journal, 16(31), 1.

McCombs, M. E., & Shaw, D. L. (1972). The agenda-setting function of mass media. The Public Opinion Quarterly, 36(2), 176-187.

McCombs, M. (1997). Building consensus: The news media's agenda-setting roles. Political Communication, 14(4), 433-443.

McLuhan, M. (1964). Understanding media. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

McQuail, D. (2010). McQuail's mass communication theory. London, UK: Sage.

Morshed, K. (2001). Challenges to democratisation in Burma: Perspectives on multilateral and bilateral responses. International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance. [Online article]. Retrieved from

Pearn, B. R. (1944). Arakan and the first Anglo-Burmese war, 1824–25. The Far Eastern Quarterly,4(1), pp. 27-40. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Samers, M., & Collyer, M. (2017). Migration:Key ideas in geography. New York, NY: Routledge.

Scheufele, D. A. (1999). Framing as a theory of media effects. Journal of Communication, 49(1), 103-122.

Schober, J. (2006). Buddhism in Burma: Engagement with modernity. In S. C. Berkwitz (Ed.), Buddhism in world cultures: Comparative perspectives. Oxford: ABC-CLIO.

The Daily Star(2011, December 05). PM goes to Myanmar today. [Online news]. Retrieved from

The Daily Star(2011, December 06). Dhaka keen to import gas, electricity. [Online news]. Retrieved from

The Daily Star(2012, July 10). Illegal stay thru' dubious means. [Online news]. Retrieved from

The Daily Star(2012, October 02). Tearing out the soul. [Online news]. Retrieved from

The Daily Star(2012, December 06). Why are Rohingyas being refused entry into Bangladesh?[Online news]. Retrieved from

The Daily Star (2017, September 21). Rohingya crisis to take a toll on economy: Sanem. [Online news]. Retrieved from

Thompson, N. A. (2017, August 6). Yaba addiction: The dark side of Bangladesh's increasing affluence. CNN [Online news]. Retrieved from

UNHCR (2012, October). Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights’ Compilation Report. Universal Periodic Review: Bangladesh. [Online report]. Retrieved from

UNHCR. (2018, August 15). Rohingya emergency. [Online report]. Retrieved from

Van Gorp, B.(2005). Where is the frame?: Victims and intruders in the Belgian press coverage of the asylum issue. European Journal of Communication, 20(4), 484-507.

Zaller, J. (1992). The nature and origins of mass opinion. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

PJR icon
How to Cite
UbayasiriK. (2019). Framing statelessness and ‘belonging’: Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh’s The Daily Star newspaper. Pacific Journalism Review : Te Koakoa, 25(1&2), 260-276.