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March 2024

Episode: KPN 30-03-2024

Kaladan Radio March 30, 2024 1812 6


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UN probe finds Myanmar army behind anti-Rohingya campaign

Myanmar’s military was behind dozens of seemingly unrelated Facebook pages spewing hate speech against the Rohingya prior to its dramatic 2017 crackdown against the Muslim minority, a UN probe found on Wednesday.

Facebook has long been accused of helping spread vast amounts of hate speech against the Rohingya before hundreds of thousands of them were driven into neighbouring Bangladesh in a crackdown now subject to a UN genocide investigation.

In late 2021, Rohingya refugees sued Facebook for $150 billion, claiming the social network failed to stem the hate speech directed against them. Now, the United Nations’ Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar (IIMM) says there is clear evidence Myanmar’s military secretly orchestrated the hate speech campaign.

The military had in a “systematic and coordinated” manner “spread material designed to instil fear and hatred of the Rohingya minority”, the investigators said in a fresh report.

Junta propagated that Rohingya posed an existential threat to the country through violence, terrorism and ‘Islamisation’

“It accomplished this by creating a clandestine network of pages on a social media site with the potential to reach an audience of millions.”

“Rather than taking all steps to prevent the violence and protect its people, the Myanmar military conducted a social media campaign that excused and promoted violence against the Rohingya minority.”

‘Excused and promoted violence’

The “hate speech content often played upon prevalent discriminatory and derogatory narratives concerning the Rohinguya, it said. These ranged from the narrative that the Rohingya pose an existential threat to Myanmar through violence, terrorism or ‘Islamisation’”.

Some of the hate speech also played “to the narrative that they pose a threat to Burmese racial purity through their alleged rampant breeding”. The connections between the pages were seen in various ways: they often shared creators, administrators, and editors, and regularly posted material using the same IP addresses used by the Myanmar military. “Identical material was often posted on multiple pages in this network, sometimes within minutes,” the IIMM said.

The investigators highlighted that the military’s hate speech campaign “was ongoing at the very time that many Rohingya villages were burned and while thousands of Rohingya men, women and children were beaten, sexually assaulted and/or killed”.

And, they pointed out, it had “continued as hundreds of thousands of Rohingya were forced to flee from their homes.

‘Interconnected network’

The IIMM was established by the UN Human Rights Council in 2018 to collect evidence of the most serious international crimes and prepare files for criminal prosecution. Its new analysis looked at content posted on 43 Facebook pages between July and December 2017.

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