Published: Tue, March 13, 2018
World | By Paul Elliott

Facebook is being used to incite hatred in Myanmar, says the UN

Facebook is being used to incite hatred in Myanmar, says the UN

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

His remarks come a day after United Nations special rapporteur to Myanmar Yanghee Lee warned the violence against the Rohingya bears "the hallmarks of genocide".

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".

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.

Crimes verging on genocide were being committed against the Rohingya minority in Myanmar, and those crimes bore "the fingerprints of the Myanmar government and of the global community", the United Nations special adviser on the prevention of genocide said on Tuesday.

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. "Bear the hallmarks of genocide, and call in the strongest terms for accountability", she told the UN Human Rights Council, reported the AFP.

In Myanmar, which is still effectively controlled by the military, Facebook is so prevalent that it essentially functions as the entire internet, and is the main source of information for citizens (a local digital marketing agency puts the share of the population on Facebook at about 20%).

The South Korean academic, who has been barred from visiting Myanmar, called for a UN-backed investigation based in Bangladesh.

"We know that the ultranationalist Buddhists have their own Facebooks and really (are) inciting a lot of violence and a lot of hatred against the Rohingya or other ethnic minorities", Lee said.

"Everything is done through Facebook in Myanmar", she told reporters, adding that Facebook had helped the impoverished country but had also been used to spread hate speech.

The U.N. human rights chief said last week he strongly suspected acts of genocide had taken place.

"And I am afraid that Facebook has now turned into a beast than what it was originally meant to be used in other parts of the world too", she added.

Facebook has always been criticised for its role in the Rohingya crisis, an assessment now underscored by comments by United Nations investigators.

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