United Nations officials blast Facebook over spread of Rohingya hate speech

A United Nations human rights envoy said last week that Myanmar is continuing its "ethnic cleansing" of the Rohingya with a "campaign of terror and forced starvation" in Rakhine state, six months after a military crackdown sparked a mass exodus of the Muslim minority.

The report was based on information gathered from a series of missions to Bangladesh, Malaysia and Thailand, where teams of investigators conducted over 600 in-depth interviews with victims and witnesses of reported human rights violations and abuses.

"It 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", said UN Myanmar investigator Yanghee Lee, reported by Reuters.

The group detailed "gross human rights violations", including indiscriminate shooting at fleeing villagers, burning of elderly and children alive in their homes, hacking people to death, and sexual violence towards women and girls.

According to Marzuki Darusman, chairman of the UN Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar, social media had played a "determining role" in Myanmar.

Lee said the violence in Rakhine had eclipsed anything seen in recent years in Myanmar, where the government has also fought insurgents in Shan, Kayin and Kachin states. Dieng said Myanmar had made "no genuine efforts" to ensure those who returned were guaranteed freedom and safety.

"It points at human rights violations of the most serious kind, in all likelihood amounting to crimes under global law".

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They also seized a strategic mountain in the northeast of the enclave, a military official from the Turkish-led operation said. Ankara views the YPG as a terror organization and the Syrian branch of the Kurdistan Workers' Party ( PKK ).

But Myanmar's government rejected the legitimacy of the reports.

Myanmar's national security adviser, Thaung Tun, last week said his government did not support such atrocities.

Myanmar's civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi was last week stripped of a prestigious human rights award by the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, which accused her of doing little to halt the ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya. "Everybody should be clear about it".

"Of course, there is always more we can do and we will continue to work with local experts to help keep our community safe".

She interviewed more than 100 refugees in Bangladesh, and they told her awful things: "Parents told me harrowing accounts of witnessing their young children being thrown into fires".

Myanmar has said that it is prepared to take back Rohingya refugees who want to voluntarily return to northern Rakhine state, if they can prove that they lived in the region prior to October 9, 2016, when soldiers launched a smaller-scale crackdown in response to deadly ARSA raids on border guard stations.

"We have been working on accepting back refugees who actually lived in Rakhine state", Zaw Htay said. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.