Rohingya hatred spread on Facebook


A Rohingya refugee woman carries relief supplies to her makeshift shelter.

Following the crackdown by Myanmar armed forces, around 700,000 people who belong to the Rohingya community have fled Myanmar and sought refuge in neighboring Bangladesh.

She expressed concern that the "repressive practices of previous military governments were returning at the norm once more".

The U.N. has put blame on Facebook for playing a role in spreading hate speech amid the mounting Rohingya crisis in Myanmar.

"[Facebook] 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 at a press conference on Monday, according to Reuters.

The report of the Fact-Finding Mission, chaired by former Indonesian Attorney-General Marzuki Darusman, was based on hundreds of accounts by victims and witnesses of reported human rights violations, as well as satellite imagery, photographs and video footage. "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".

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The head of an United Nations fact-finding mission denied visas by Myanmar and a special envoy on human rights in Myanmar who has been blocked from visiting the country, both spoke in Geneva on Monday.

Turkey has been at the forefront of providing aid to Rohingya refugees, and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has raised the issue at the UN.

Anti-Rohingya content includes explicitly racist political cartoons, falsified images, and staged news reports.

While approximately 60 percent of the refugee population is children, the United Nations estimates that up to 200,000 children are still in Rakhine.

Adama Dieng said that if the evidence recently presented to him was proven, it would "constitute the crime of genocide".

The agency also found an ongoing systematic campaign of "terror and forced starvation" which are forcing Rohingya out of the country.

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"The scorched-earth campaign carried out by the Myanmar security forces since August 2017 against the Rohingya population was predictable and preventable", he said.

"The bulldozing of entire villages is incredibly worrying".

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

Bangladesh officials have expressed doubts about Myanmar's willingness to take back Rohingya refugees.

Foreign Ministry Permanent Secretary Myint Thu said the offices of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees and the U.N. Development Program responded last week with a proposal and concept paper to the government's invitation for U.N. involvement, which the government is now studying. "But only a court, having heard all the arguments, will confirm this", he said.

He also said Myanmar would no longer cooperate with Lee because she "has made biased, one-sided and unfair accusations against Myanmar".

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The two countries reached a deal in November to begin repatriation within two months, but repatriation has not begun, with stateless Rohingya, who face restrictions on their movements in Myanmar, still crossing the border.