Published: Mon, August 27, 2018
Global Media | By Jackie Banks

United Nations fact-finding mission seeks prosecution of Tatmadaw leaders

United Nations fact-finding mission seeks prosecution of Tatmadaw leaders

It said Myanmar's leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace Prize victor, had failed to use her position to protect the country's civilian population.

Some 700,000 Rohingya Muslims fled northern Rakhine state to Bangladesh after Myanmar launched a brutal crackdown in August previous year on insurgents amid accounts of arson, murder and rape at the hands of soldiers and vigilante mobs in the mainly Buddhist country.

Protests were held to commemorate the first anniversary of Myanmar's crackdown on Rohingyas which started on 25th August 2017 and resulted in a mass exodus of Muslims to camps in Bangladesh.

The UN Human Rights Council established the UN Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar in March 2017 because of credible and serious allegations of human rights abuses in late 2016.

Many Rohingya survivors and victims were traumatised by the killings and rapes inflicted on the Muslim minority past year as 700,000 fled across the border.

Of five acts deemed genocide under worldwide law, four were present in Myanmar, the fact-finding mission found.

Facebook said in a statement issued 10 days ago following a Reuters investigative report into its failure to combat hate speech against the Rohingya and other Muslims that it had been "too slow" to address the problem in Myanmar and was acting to remedy the situation by hiring more Burmese speakers and investing in technology to identify problematic content.

Investigators, working under a mandate from the UN-backed Human Rights Council, called for an global investigation, for the Security Council to impose targeted sanctions and an arms embargo on the entire country.

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Myanmar's Army chief, Min Aung Hlaing and five other top military commanders must be held accountable in line with global norms and standards, the report added.

"Facebook has been the key channel enabling the military's communication with the public and this ban will hit their communication ability hard", said Richard Horsey, a Yangon-based independent political analyst and former United Nations diplomat to the country.

The Myanmar government, which was sent an advance copy of the United Nations report in line with standard practice, has not commented. Members of the mostly Buddhist Rakhine ethnic group and Hindus from Rakhine state said they would hold events to remember those killed by Rohingya militants in attacks that triggered the crisis.

The military ruled Myanmar for almost 50 years after seizing power in a 1962 coup and retains considerable powers under a 2008 constitution. The U.S., which is reportedly mired in its own debate over whether to label the violence "genocide", has accused China of using its veto power to shield Myanmar from censure. The report found evidence of four out of five possible genocidal acts, and "the necessary genocidal intent is present in Rakhine state".

The investigators, who were never granted access to Myanmar, said they based their findings on interviews with 875 victims and witnesses, as well as satellite imagery and authenticated documents, photographs and videos.

The company said in a blog post Monday that it's removed 18 accounts and 52 pages associated with the Myanmar military due to the ongoing ethnic violence against Rohingya Muslims in the country.

The UN report singled out Facebook for its "slow and ineffective" response. Earlier this month, we shared an update on the steps we're taking to prevent the spread of hate and misinformation on Facebook.

The fact-finders' report also comes the same day two Reuters journalists were expecting a verdict in a case that could see them imprisoned for up to 14 years after they were arrested while investigating soldiers' participation in a Rohingya massacre. "The extent to which Facebook posts and messages have led to real-world discrimination and violence must be independently and thoroughly examined".

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