Facebook bans Myanmar military accounts, pages including military chief

Pompeo Decries ‘Abhorrent Ethnic Cleansing' in Myanmar

Top military leaders of Myanmar should be prosecuted for genocide against the Rohingya population in the country's Rakhine state, a United Nations report on Monday said.

The government, led by Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, has denied refugees' allegations of atrocities, saying security forces lawfully suppressed Muslim militants in Rakhine.

It raises the remarkable prospect that the Nobel Peace Prize victor could see her own generals put on trial for crimes against humanity.

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 worldwide law, principally by... the Tatmadaw, but also by other security forces".

"Many of these violations undoubtedly amount to the gravest crimes under global law", it reads.

The U.N.'s Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar released its report on Monday. But he expects that referring the matter to the International Criminal Court by the UN's security council will be hampered by China and Russian Federation, which have been blocked moves in past.

UN leaders, foreign government officials, and human rights watchers have for months cited evidence of genocide in Myanmar, and the United States late a year ago said that "ethnic cleansing" was occurring in Myanmar.

The mission, which was created by the UN Human Rights Council in March 2017, concluded in a report that "there is sufficient information to warrant the investigation and prosecution of senior officials in the Tatmadaw [Myanmar army] chain of command". "Its standard response is to deny, dismiss and obstruct", the United Nations report said.

They included Brigadier-General Aung Aung, commander of the 33rd Light Infantry Division, which oversaw operations in the coastal village of Inn Din where 10 Rohingya captive boys and men were killed.

"The military's contempt for human life, dignity and freedom - for global law in general - should be a cause of concern for the entire population of Myanmar, and to the worldwide community as a whole", said fact-finding mission chair Marzuki Darusman, a former Indonesian attorney-general, at a news conference.

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The 20-page report consisting of its main findings was based on 847 interviews, satellite imagery, authenticated documents, photographs, and video, and covered serious abuses in Rakhine, Shan, and Kachin States from 2011 to the present. "And that is the role of the commander-in-chief, Min Aung Hlaing".

But in a trial that has commanded an worldwide spotlight and is widely seen as a litmus test for the civilian government's relationship with the press, the delay was widely perceived to have political motivations, especially as the decision comes on the eve of the U.N. Security Council briefing on Myanmar.

Decades of state-sponsored stigmatization against Rohingya had resulted in "institutionalized oppression from birth to death", the report said. "The U.S. will continue to hold those responsible accountable".

Worldwide experts have pointed to Facebook as being a major source of misinformation and hate speech fueling violence against minorities in Myanmar.

But the claims were undercut by a police witness who said his superior had ordered a set-up and by arguments that the allegedly secret documents had been published in state media.

Defence lawyer Khin Maung Zaw said the delay could be linked to global developments on Myanmar.

"Although improved in recent months, Facebook's response has been slow and ineffective", the report said, calling for an independent investigation of the extent to which posts and messages on the platform had "led to real-world discrimination and violence".

A total of 18 Facebook accounts - not all the individuals listed in the ban had a presence on the network - one Instagram account and 52 Facebook pages were removed.

Facebook was a key outlet in which hate speech was propagated against the Rohingya Muslims, the mission said.

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