March 23, 2018

United Nations mission blames Facebook for hate speech against Rohingyas

13 March 2018, 08:57 | Taylor George

A young woman looks at her Facebook wall while she travels on a bus

A young woman looks at her Facebook wall while she travels on a bus in Yangon

He adds that it has "substantially contributed to the level of acrimony and dissension and conflict".

"All the information I have received indicates that the intent of the perpetrators was to cleanse northern Rakhine state of their existence, possibly even to destroy the Rohingya as such, which, if proven, would constitute the crime of genocide", he said. This content goes viral, normalizing hate speech and shaping public perception. And, "as far as the Myanmar situation is concerned, social media is Facebook, and Facebook is social media", said Marzuki Darusman, chairman of the organization's fact-finding mission on the country, according to Reuters.

Almost 700 000 Rohingya have fled Myanmar since August, crossing into Bangladesh with stories of murder, rape and arson at the hands of soldiers and Buddhist mobs in Rakhine state.

Yanghee Lee, another one of the investigators, said she fears that Facebook, despite all the good it has done for connecting people in Myanmar, has become "a beast".

The special rapporteur said she hoped to make official visits to India and China as part of her preparation to report to the General Assembly later this year, and said she remained hopeful the Myanmar government would revisit its decision and grant her access.

Lee was speaking at the UN's Human Rights Council in Geneva.

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Sri Lanka's government spokesman Harindra B. Dassanayake commenting on the ban said, "These platforms are banned because they were spreading hate speeches and amplifying them", while adding that the government believes fake news of ethnically motivated attacks circulating on the network encouraged retaliatory violence.

She called for the establishment of a United Nations structure, based in Cox's Bazar in Bangladesh, for a duration of three years to investigate, document, collect, consolidate, map, and analyse evidence of human rights violations and abuses.

"This must be aimed at the individuals who gave the orders and carried out violations against individuals and entire ethnic and religious groups", said Lee. "And I'm afraid that Facebook has now turned into a beast, (instead of) what it was originally meant to be used (for) - maybe in other parts of the world too". "The government leadership who did nothing to intervene, stop, or condemn these acts must also be held accountable".

Myanmar's civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi has been the target of global vitriol for a perceived failure to stand up for the stateless minority.

Calls for action have grown louder since the Rohingya crisis erupted a year ago, sending some 700,000 of the minority fleeing across the border since August.

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