Published: Tue, August 28, 2018
Global | By Craig Ferguson

Facebook bans Myanmar military chief, dozens of pages

Facebook bans Myanmar military chief, dozens of pages

Since August 2016, more than 600,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled Myanmar for Bangladesh, causing a humanitarian crisis.

A report to the U.N. Human Rights Council on Monday is calling for the investigation and prosecution of Myanmar's military leaders for war crimes, including Commander-in-Chief Senior-General Min Aung Hlaing.

The Security Council should "adopt targeted individual sanctions, including travel bans and asset freezes, against those who appear most responsible for serious crimes under global law" and impose an arms embargo on Myanmar, they said.

They should also be investigated and prosecuted for "crimes against humanity and war crimes in Rakhine, Kachin and Shan States", it said, insisting that the army tactics had been "consistently and grossly disproportionate to actual security threats".

Min Aung Hlaing's pages - one of which was "liked" by 1.3 million people - gave detailed running commentaries of what it said were battles with the militants.

On the contrary, the civilian authorities have spread false narratives; denied the Tatmadaw's wrongdoing; blocked independent investigations, including of the Fact-Finding Mission; and overseen destruction of evidence.

The Mission, established by the UN Human Rights Council in March 2017, said it found patterns of gross human rights violations and abuses committed in Kachin, Rakhine and Shan States that "undoubtedly amount to the gravest crimes under global law, principally by... the Tatmadaw, but also by other security forces".

The investigators named Min Aung Hlaing and five other top military commanders, adding that a longer list of names could be shared with "any competent and credible body pursuing accountability in line with worldwide norms and standards".

"Through their acts and omissions, the civilian authorities contributed to the commission of atrocity crimes", it said.

An October 2017 satellite image from Inn Din village, in southern Maungdaw Township, Myanmar, shows the eastern and southern Rohingya settlements burned, while the non-Rohingya western settlement remains intact.

The social media giant announced its decision today, just hours after United Nations investigators said Myanmar's military carried out mass killings and gang rapes of Muslim Rohingya with "genocidal intent".

"The ethnic violence in Myanmar has been truly horrific", it said.

The investigators warned that the latest wave of violence was part of a "history of abusive military conduct going back at least half a century".

Decades of state-sponsored stigmatization against Rohingya had resulted in "institutionalized oppression from birth to death", the report said.

Warning that "impunity is deeply entrenched in Myanmar's political and legal system", the investigators insisted the only chance of obtaining accountability was through the worldwide justice system.

The investigators urged the U.N. Security Council, which will convene tomorrow, to refer Myanmar's top brass to the International Criminal Court.

They also recommended an arms embargo and "targeted individual sanctions against those who appear to be most responsible". Investigators were not allowed to enter Myanmar, but reported that the country's military has been given full reign and is now considered above the law.

Facebook's action came on the same day the U.N.'s top human rights body released a report charging that "Facebook has been a useful instrument for those seeking to spread hate, in a context where for most users Facebook is the internet". Stecklow said the social media platform is the only news source for many people in Myanmar, with millions of users.

"We continue to work to prevent the misuse of Facebook in Myanmar - including through the independent human rights impact assessment we commissioned earlier in the year", the company said.

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