Facebook is 'beast' used to stoke Rohingya violence, says UN Burma report


Marzuki Darusman, chairman of a United Nations fact-finding mission on Myanmar, told the United Nations rights council that "hate speech and incitement to violence on social media is rampant, particularly on Facebook", according to a written statement of his remarks.

UN Myanmar investigator Yanghee Lee said that "everything is done through Facebook in Myanmar", adding it has been used to spread hate speech.

Lee, who was informed late past year that her access to the country was denied, also expressed serious concern that "the repressive practices of previous military governments were returning as the norm once more" in Myanmar, describing the situation faced by civil society across the country as "increasingly perilous".

Investigators from the United Nations are now looking into a potential - the investigators recently said they are "becoming more convinced" that a genocide occurred - genocide in Myanmar that happened between October 2016 and August 2017. The panel has repeatedly been denied visas to visit Myanmar.

To date, more than 650,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled Myanmar's Rakhine state into Bangladesh, with many refugees providing testimonies of executions and rapes by Myanmar's security forces.

She said accountability for the abuses in Rakhine should be "the focus of the global community's efforts to bring long-lasting peace, stability and democratization to Myanmar".

"It was used to convey public messages but we know that the ultra-nationalist Buddhists have their own Facebooks and are really inciting a lot of violence and a lot of hatred against the Rohingya or other ethnic minorities", she said.

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Facebook has seen a meteoric rise in Myanmar, a fledgling democracy shaking off 50 years of brutal junta rule.

"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.

"The government leadership who did nothing to intervene, stop or condemn these acts must also be held accountable", she added. "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".

Calls have been mounting for the creation of a UN-backed investigation to prepare criminal indictments over atrocities committed in Myanmar.

Bangladesh and Myanmar agreed in November to begin repatriating Rohingya who volunteered to return to Rakhine, but the plan has stalled.

Facebook has not yet made any public comment on the charges yet.